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Prison Narratives in the short stories (Abu Gharib Buses)

Nadia Hanawi

 

   Prison is one of the important places in Realistic Narratives, because of the closure it contains, as it is also the most containing ideas that can be intense stories with drama and symbolism. This fit between spatial narrowness and dramatic condensation is appropriate for the genre of the short story. Despite this, the prison’s investment in fiction as a starting point for events is still little, if not rare, for the majority of Iraqi writers.

Perhaps the reason is that the reality of the prison requires a real experience of the daily details that take place inside its halls. It was believed that the writer who produces a story about prison must go through the experience of imprisonment and taste the horrors of arrest and its tragedies, and only then will he be able to transform a moment into an artistically interesting and influential story material.

However, it is important in prison narratives to focus on the real and symbolic prison connotations with which we know that imprisonment behind bars is life when the necessities of life are lacking. This is because both prison and life are threatened by two powers:

 1) Surveillance, which means accountability, eavesdropping, and espionage.

 2) Punishment, which makes the function of imprisonment anti-life and the opposite of freedom.

But how does the writer reconcile the narrator’s sense of being watched with his practice of storytelling as a punishment for a crime he did not commit or committed

It is natural to take prison as a realistic subject and a narrative place, so the prisoner becomes the center around which the other elements revolve.

 The more intense and compact the moments of slavery, the more lonely and isolated the narrator will be in representing himself and expressing his plight alone, so that the idea of ​​winning life and escaping from punishment would seem more frightening and disturbing than death that would be without punishment.

If we take into account that there are no laws in prison that threaten its oversight system, the reality of intimidation will become real in physical abuse, because there is no law that controls it, and there are no links in the minds of the convicts, individuals or groups, that combine punishment for crime and abuse of bodies.

Which we find an example in the stories (Abu Ghraib Buses) by the Iraqi writer Pauls Adam, issued by the Nineveh House in Damascus 2021. It was started with a sentence outside fiction or metanarrative signifying saying: (This collection of stories represents the third book of my brutal realism). Brutality means that in reality something strange or surprising, or perhaps both, as a kind of confirmation of the reality of the injustice that affects the prisoner. This injustice not only leads to being part of the architecture of the place, but this place becomes outside the law as an institution not for reform – as it is supposed – but for delinquency and in which the prisoner is a criminal person who always needs a punitive authority that reorganizes himself with penalties and legalizes his behavior with procedural rules.

This paradox is embodied in the nine stories, in which there is one place, which is the prison, and the human bodies in it are subjected to abuse, assault and humiliation, as if life is a prison from which there is no escape but to it, and there is no way out of it except by revolving around it. This alone is a punishment imposed by the narrator on himself, observing the physical attraction between opposites and behind each body, and he receives an infinite punishment for the act he did.

This is what the imprisoned narrator faced in the story (Al-Anqarji) as a representative of the narrations while speaking in her tongue as non-human beings that do not know how to move except by the order of the jailer.

Just as prisons are prepared for punishment (not reform), life becomes a dystopia of collective intimidation with images etched in the memory like tattoos, so that we hardly distinguish the idea of crime from the idea of punishment and retribution. This is confirmed by the story (Benjamin’s Box), where life is summarized by memory, which is a box that we should not risk opening

Madness alone becomes an incentive for Benjamin to continue his crazy behavior with his box, and he prevents others from opening it, knowing that the scream inside him if it explodes was a mine.

While life in the story (mysterious stab) is a struggle with knives in which a stabber must be overcome. Indeed, Ziyad, the traitor, stabbed Sabhan at the sight of the guard and the watchtower. Imprisonment is life in darkness, violence, hatred and imprisonment until there is no longer any difference between death in the open air or in solitary confinement.

Because prison is a physical embodiment of punitive power and a censorship method for controlling the body, Michel Foucault asked: Is prison: a punitive city or a coercive institution? His answer was that imprisonment is a punishment and the purpose behind it is two: the first is to involve everyone with one social enemy, and the second is to make the practice of punishment public, not regulated by legislation, but rather a reform strategy. Which we find a clear representation in the story (Abu Ghraib buses), from which the group took its name, and in which three actors appear: the jailer, the prisoners and the leaden square, the first two moving on it in opposition, and the third being disciplined by the opposition that overcomes punishment.

This inspection and monitoring are means that increase the role of the prison in directing punishment, whether by isolating the prisoner from the outside world or depriving him of his freedom, and make the prison a complete and strict institution that has no outside and is also without a way out. As for delinquency and reform, they are twins, as Foucault says, who take care of all aspects and situations of the individual, such as strengthening his body, his daily behavior, his moral attitude and his competencies.

Thus, the short story is able to benefit from the naughty history of prison, including oral testimonies, secret documents, and documentary notes, all of which are employed in probing the horizons of the history of the prison narrative. Which is what the Pauls Adam did brilliantly in (Abu Ghraib buses).

 

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