Authors: James Loney
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.
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Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Captivity : 118 days in Iraq and the struggle for a world without war / James Loney.
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.
DS79.76.L65 2011 956.7044′37092 C2010-904226-3
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
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.
– ankle-length black coat worn by women
aku akhbar –
alakum salam –
the response to
, “and peace to you”
ali baba –
Allah ackbar –
God is great
one-piece, loose-fitting tunic worn by Arab men
el messiahiyea –
el yom –
frook hind –
term of respect for someone who has completed the pilgrimage to Mecca
religiously pure to eat
hum da’Allah –
praise be to God
something forbidden, taboo, a moral offence
a type of candy
means, also a common conversational filler, as in English “like,” “so,” “well”
walk, hurry up
kool yom –
minundra ani gulak –
ma’adree ani gulak
, which means I don’t know, I will tell you later
holy warrior of God
could I please?
spy, piece of soiled toilet paper
a sour fruit used for making tea, flavouring food
sabha il hare –
sabha il noor –
salam alakum –
peace to you
shid ghul –
repeat again, I didn’t hear you
– how are you?
shuhada bil Arabi –
how do you say in Arabic
t’al wiyaya –
come with me
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.