Eyes to the soul
Selma tells us about a feature of her grandmother that lives on in herself. This along with stories from the family gives Selma an insight into her grandmother's life.
Music by Asim Al-Chalabi.
They say she had the same eyes as me.
She was an Iraqi woman born in Baghdad in 1918, married at the age of 18 and died at the age of 31 from rheumatic arthritis... a disease now easily curable.
I am a British woman... a child of the eighties... a woman of the nineties and very much alive at the age of 33.
We have two things in common... her son is my dad... and her eyes are my eyes... blue eyes... a good thing in my family.
I've always wondered why - perhaps it's prejudice - blue eyes seem to be rated as being more beautiful in Iraq. Or perhaps it's because she has blue eyes and she has gone down in family legend. Her name was Nabiha, meaning bright and alert in Arabic. When her brother and her sons talk about her, they cry. She was everything a woman should be in their eyes: kind, compassionate, proud, dignified.
Her husband had no time for the family; he was too busy with politics.
She brought up three sons in poverty but still found time to sew clothes for other children in her street. She was good at singing, but didn't sing in public.
When I look at her picture - the only picture I have of her - I see a woman of spirit...
I want to ask her what her desires were... what would she have done with her life in different circumstances?
Here I am, her granddaughter... a woman of my time... a woman with opinions and ambitions. I like to think she's watching me. I like to think that by doing things I want to do, I'm living for her.
She deserves more than her 31 years and after all, we do have the same eyes.
End slide - 'Nabiha Jaafar Al-Chalabi 1918-1949'