I have been thinking a lot about Kamsin’s experiences in Bosnia, working for a Turkish Muslim boss. Putting aside this man’s abilities as a leader and administrator, I want to consider why he has had so many problems with American and British staff members. Nine or ten members of staff have left or been asked to leave over the past couple of years; three (all American) since last September. I think this leaves two Americans and two British teachers. Of the two British teachers, one is a British Muslim and the other is Kamsin. None of the teachers are happy with the working conditions but the Bosnians need the job too much to complain. I am wondering about the extent of anti-British and anti-American feeling since the invasion of Iraq and whether or not this is a factor in the situation.
Kamsin tells me that her Turkish students are very proud of being Turkish and look back to the glorious days of the Ottoman Empire. It could well be that the British and American teachers are not accepted solely for their lack of ‘Turkishness’, but Kamsin has overheard some of them making favourable comments about Sadam Hussein. Whatever the truth of the matter, here is one of my poems, which alludes to both 9/11 and a time when a WMD was actually used.
Journey to Hiroshima – September 13th 2001
‘I will write Peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.’
(Sadako Sasaki 1943-55)
No planes are flying west but I’ve flown far away
– despite armed guards at the terminal and rumours of delay
– east, to where Enola Gay dropped Little Boy.
Our hand luggage is searched.
I surrender scissors
whilst a teenager worries over unwashed underwear.
By bullet train to
Hiroshima’s Peace Park where parties of schoolchildren,
and multicoloured origami garlands, enfold the statue of a Little Girl.
Sadako’s medicine papers reborn as cranes– if
she could fold one thousand she would be well again.
We tour the museum – taste the charred remains
in a child’s lunch-box – cleanse ourselves with iced coffee.
Under the shade of the A-Bomb Dome, we watch
cranes dip down into the once black river – rise – and fly away
Little Boy, the first atomic bomb, was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August, 1945.