The Second floor

Jamila S. Ghanm

       The second floor of the house I lived in as a child was my favorite place during my childhood. It was on the rooftop of my grandfatherís house in the center of Maiysan city in southern Iraq.  The house was an old design, but it was wide and light. There was a courtyard surrounded by many empty rooms on the second floor.  One of those rooms was my special spot that I considered my own private home. It was on the right side of the second floor close to the stairway. Inside the room there were two old lamps hanging from the ceiling, an old chair and table, some old pictures on the wall and a few old toys. I spent all of my free time after school in this room. Around that room were many windows overlooking the street and an outer porch surrounded by a wooden banister. I would sit out on the porch watching the people walking by, listening to hawkers selling their goods and sometimes reading a book. On weekends, my cousins came to my home and we would play in those second-floor rooms during the day time. Everyone chose one room to be her own house, and we would pretend to be neighbors, so we would visit each other, cook and exchange food and have parties. Sometimes my mother became very angry because I would take her kitchen utensils such as cooking pots, dishes, spoons and plastic glasses and leave them in the second floor rooms.

       On hot summer nights, my older sister and I would sprinkle water on the surface of the courtyard, which was made of dirt, to reduce the heat from the sun and make it ready to sleep on. Then we put all of our family membersí beds beside each other. After eating our dinner, we lay on our beds breathing fresh air, talking to each other about our hopes and dreams, watching the moon shining and the stars glittering in the sky, and smelling the scent of the wet dirt. It was like the smell of the rain. My older sister and I would play a game in which each of us would make a wish and choose a star to wish upon. If the star glittered, that meant the wish would come true. One day I made a wish to travel around the world and chose one star which  immediately glittered. My older sister started to laugh and said, "Please wish for something that is possible." Whenever we played this game, I would close my eyes and imagine myself flying among the moon and stars. In the morning I would wake up with the roosters crowing and enjoy the sound of the birds singing. Now I dream of returning to to this wonderful childhood room and courtyard on the second floor of my grandfather's house. I havenít seen anything like it in all the places I have lived.