A couple of weeks ago, my sister visited my grandmothers’ house for the first time in about 20 years. She ended up finding a drawer full of her diaries from 1956 until present day, organized year by year. She sent me pictures and I was amazed. I tweeted about them, and the tweet sort of went viral.
So my sister visited my grandmother’s house in Baghdad and found this treasure:
60+ years of her diaries from 1950s till present day. Absolute gold. pic.twitter.com/bEMyI0lV9a
— Ahmed AlRawi (@ahmedtherawi) December 29, 2018
Apparently, a bunch of people also found it to be pretty amazing. I was encouraged to explore the diaries further, archive them, translate them, etc…
A few journalists wrote pieces on the topic, reporters from CNN & Skynews got in touch for stories/documentaries, and the internet did its fair share of spreading the word on hundreds of pages for millions of people. It was overwhelming. People were very kind with their words and their feelings of awe.
I never thought I’d go to Baghdad any time soon. I had no business going there, quite frankly. Although we have family there, it’s not known to be the safest of places. The whole thing however made me not only curious about the diaries, but made me miss my grandmother and reminisce the vivid memories I have of visiting her house in the late 90s. I got quite excited, and booked a flight to Baghdad for a few days.
My grandmother was as I had always remembered her: kind, caring, and generous. I seized my time talking to her, asking about events and stories in her life I never was mature enough to get curious about, and she happily answered with all details she remembered.
I told her how much people loved the fact that she kept writing her diaries to this day. How many people were interested to read her stories, write about her, or interview her. It drew a smile on her face, but she quickly dismissed it as unnecessary. “Those are private writings” she said, not wanting any of the attention it grabbed.
I didn’t want to pressure her much, knowing how personal diaries are meant to be. Although they mostly carried events of her every day life rather than her feelings towards those events, she wasn’t interested in making them public. They belong to her, and her decision was to keep them to herself and her family, which I very much respect.
To date, my grandmother is alive and well, still writing her diaries. I asked her why does she write them? She didn’t have an answer per se, but said that it just became a habit that she enjoys. She never planned to write a book. Never planned to do anything with them. She was and still is doing it for pure joy.
That story in and of itself frankly is inspirational. One doing a thing merely for oneself’s intrinsic joy, and not for any extrinsic reward. The discipline of carrying such habit through for over 60 years of age is nothing but outstanding.
May we have the audacity to attempt such endeavors; doing things for ourselves.