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Authors: James Loney

Captivity

BOOK: Captivity
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PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA

Copyright © 2011 James Loney

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Published in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Distributed by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Knopf Canada and colophon are trademarks.

www.randomhouse.ca

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Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Loney, James
Captivity : 118 days in Iraq and the struggle for a world without war / James Loney.

eISBN: 978-0-307-39929-8

1. Loney, James—Captivity, 2005–2006. 2. Hostages—Iraq—Biography.
3. Iraq War, 2003– —Personal narratives, Canadian. 4. Hostages—Canada—Biography.
5. Christian Peace Maker Teams—Biography. 6. Pacifists—Canada—Biography.
I. Title.

DS79.76.L65 2011      956.7044′37092      C2010-904226-3

v3.1

For Tom.
For all those who have given their lives for a world without war,
those especially whose names and stories we will never know.
And for my father,
who never got to read these pages.

Sleep Jonah in the belly of a paradox. Now you need have no purpose, nothing to prove, nowhere to go.

You may, as of now, stop talking, stop planning, stop thinking. The God who thinks of you has no need of your thought. The God who loves you has no need of your love. The God who upholds the universe has no need of your strength.

Sleep Jonah, in a motion that is no motion, in a direction that is no direction. Does the unborn child order its mother about, when to sit, when to eat, when to go forth, what words to speak? Be still, then, and know that I am God.

Be still, Jonah, sleep at last. (He sleeps at last.) In the belly of your saviour, in the perilous fathomless sea, where salvation is a miracle and death is most likely—sleep …

Until then, I bear you through the pathless sea. Another than you plans for you, another than you breathes for you, another than you loves you, another than you sees before and after, yesterday and tomorrow. While you lie there, ignorant of where you come from, where you might be going, indeed, of who you are.

—from “Whale to Jonah” by Daniel Berrigan,            
read to Jim by his partner Dan before he went to   
bed, every night that Jim was held in captivity      

Contents
GLOSSARY

In general, the terms listed below reflect the author’s hearing and understanding of the Arabic used by his captors. This glossary is not correct in every instance, in terms of meaning or transliteration, and should only be used for the purpose of reading this book.

abiya
– ankle-length black coat worn by women

abu
– father

afwen –
you’re welcome

akeel –
food

aku akhbar –
any news?

alakum salam –
the response to
salam alakum
, “and peace to you”

ali baba –
thief

Allah –
God

Allah ackbar –
God is great

Amriki –
American

ani –
I

Arabi –
Arabic

asbooah –
week

bacher –
tomorrow

beit –
house

Britannia –
Great Britain

cahraba –
electricity

Canadi –
Canada

chai –
tea

chees –
plastic bag

clatha –
three

dishdashda –
one-piece, loose-fitting tunic worn by Arab men

duwa –
medicine

el messiahiyea –
Christianity

el yom –
today

faloos –
money

firar –
escape

Franci –
French

frook hind –
rub together

Furat –
Euphrates River

haji –
term of respect for someone who has completed the pilgrimage to Mecca

halal –
religiously pure to eat

hamam –
bathroom

hum da’Allah –
praise be to God

haram –
something forbidden, taboo, a moral offence

hazeen –
sad

hazeem –
escape

helcoom –
a type of candy

Hind –
India

hooriya –
freedom

hubis –
bread, money

humburger –
hamburger

ianni –
means, also a common conversational filler, as in English “like,” “so,” “well”

imshee –
walk, hurry up

inshallah –
God willing

Islami –
Muslim

isma –
listen

Issau –
Jesus

jaysh –
soldier

jaysoos –
informant, collaborator

Jenna –
heaven

Jehennem –
hell

kabir –
big, old

kadim –
old

kaffir –
unbeliever

killam –
talk

killeator –
hat

kineesa –
church

kool yom –
every day

la –
no

leaish –
why

majnoon –
crazy

makhtoof –
kidnapped

mazboot –
truly

mbhara –
yesterday

melabas –
clothes

Messiahiy –
Christian

mezjoon –
prisoner

minundra ani gulak –
likely
ma’adree ani gulak
, which means I don’t know, I will tell you later

mooreed –
sick

mooseh-dis –
gun

mooshkilla –
problem, nuisance

mot –
dead

mozane –
no good

mujahedeen –
holy warrior of God

mumkin –
could I please?

my –
water

najis –
spy, piece of soiled toilet paper

nam –
sleep

na’am –
yes

noos –
half

noos-noos
– so-so

numibasra –
a sour fruit used for making tea, flavouring food

Nuzlander –
New Zealander

ogod –
sit down

Ordoon –
Jordan

petrol –
kerosene

portugal –
orange

qatil –
murder

romana –
grenade

sabha il hare –
good morning

sabha il noor –
morning light

sadika –
girlfriend

salam –
peace

salam alakum –
peace to you

sena –
year

shid ghul –
repeat again, I didn’t hear you

shlonik
– how are you?

shokren –
thank you

shoo –
what

shorta –
police

shstem –
smell

shuhada bil Arabi –
how do you say in Arabic

shwakit
– when?

shwaya
– little

sierra
– car

soba –
heater

t’al wiyaya –
come with me

talib –
student

thnein –
two

umma –
mother

wahid –
one

wardeh –
flower

whalid –
children

zane –
good

zengeel –
chain

zowage –
marriage

zowagi –
married woman

zowja –
wife

INTRODUCTION

Did it really happen, those four months of handcuffs and chains, terror and uncertainty, excruciating boredom without end? Sometimes, when I’m not sure, I go down into my basement and open a cardboard box to reassure myself. It contains a pair of pants, a sweater, a collared shirt, two undershirts, a pair of socks, two sets of underwear, the green string I used to hold up my pants—and one handcuff. The things the RCMP took from me on the day of our rescue, while I stood shivering in an emergency room hospital gown, in a hospital located in the Green Zone, headquarters for the occupation of Iraq. They said it was for forensic evidence.

I was alarmed. Will I get them back? Even the handcuff? It was the only thing I cared about. Yes, they said. True to their promise, the box came in the mail a year later, each item meticulously folded and wrapped in brown paper. Proof that it really happened.

One hundred and eighteen days. To say “we thought it would never end” would be to dilute an understatement with a cliché. Glaciers moved faster than any single minute of any single one of those days. Each day, each minute was a lash, an open grave, a forced march, an agony and a theft for the four of us held hostage together—Tom Fox, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember and myself—and all of our families and loved ones imprisoned with us in that four-month tomb of unknowing.

BOOK: Captivity
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