We are driving in Baghdad, looking for pizza, Danielle is on Samir’s mind today.. “Sean, I keep thinking of her. Really I still love her.” I point out to Samir that he said he still loved his ex wife a couple of days ago.. “Yes.. I love her as well..” Later we open an email, it is from Angela, another NGO worker.. “Really Sean I love this woman also!” Samir is passionate about love.

“Sean we need love to live.. that is why we are alive. If we don’t love what are we? You know every year I’ve been in love. And every year I’ve composed beautiful ballads for the girls I love.” Samir’s face changes. “This is the only year that I’ve not been in love.. that is why I’m so miserable.. look at me.. not composing.. nothing..”

He plays me a medley of his own compositions; A Ballad for Danielle, Ballad to Marie, Ballad to Angela….

Danielle worked for a charity in Saddam’s Iraq, in a time when Samir enjoyed a life of ‘fun with fear’. She was a piano student of his, but when they fell in love he became her student. “She used to push me, encourage me to play, to write. After years in a stale marriage she gave me my life back.”

Samir has sacrificed many things in life for his women, but nothing compares to what he gave up for Danielle. 3 years ago he had an invitation to go to America, to join his daughters and ex-wife. America has always been Samir’s dream, he wants to be famous there. Danielle was leaving for a new job in North Korea. Samir had his papers to leave as well. He waited to spend a little more precious time with Danielle before leaving. But as he waited, events that would change the course of history took place on September 11th in New York. Samir was refused entry into the USA as all visa’s from Iraq were withdrawn.

They stood kissing, in floods of tears in a crowded airport and Danielle left forever. Samir was lost again waiting for his way out to America. He bought a packet of cigarettes and started smoking again. He smoked the whole packet crying for Danielle, sat on the kerb of the busy airport road. As her plane left he made his way back to Baghdad, to his piano, the empty restaurant, his empty life. Samir has made a new application to live in the States which has been agreed, he is waiting for his papers to arrive before he will leave Iraq forever.

Each night he counts the days, the hours and minutes to the moment he can leave. Staying here is painful, seeing what is happening to his country upsets Samir. He worry’s about the future, “This place is finished now… I blame Saddam for giving the Americans an excuse to put their dirty feet on our soil and soak the land of it’s oil.”

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