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Shadow and Light

Abdul Aziz El-Atrachi (#177)


Abdul Aziz El-Atrachi: PhD in Plant Protection in the College of Agronomy and Forestry, Mosul University. He was killed by a loose bullet shot by an American soldier. Date unknown.

Artist Statement

Dear Dr El-Atrachi,

We both once lived in Mosul. But I grew up in England, and I left when I was so young that I don't remember anything. When the war began, I saw images of Iraq on the TV, and it looked like a desert. My parents told me that contrary to what the media was portraying, Iraq is full of rich plants and wildlife, that in fact Mosul experiences four distinct seasons in the year, and that spring is incredible with colours.

You must have known all about this. I wonder what it's like in Mosul in the spring. What it smells like, how many colours there are, what kind of colour. On holiday once, I saw a tomato that was the brightest red I had ever seen. What shade of red are tomatoes in Iraq?

I looked up agronomy. It's the study of how best to use crops and soil to feed people. Everyday I walk around so distracted by life. I live in a concrete jungle and so I have forgotten where my sustenance comes from, where life begins. It has been so long since I felt the earth beneath my feet. When I took this photo, I remembered the earth, the land that has fed Nineveh, my roots and your roots too.

Mosul has been destroyed. Our land is scorched with war and violence. We need people like you more than ever, to teach us how to protect our earth. I want to hope for something, for Mosul, for spring. Where are you? Do you hope too?

Rest in Peace,

Diyan Zora