Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fuad As-Saden Meets His French Daughter

After 45 Years of Separation, Fouad As-Saden, Iraqi Violinist, Teacher and One of the Early Founders of the INSO, Meets His French Daughter in Erbil, IRAQ

by Wefa

© Copyright Yasmin, 2009
Fuad As-Saden with Daughter Yasmin in Erbil

A French woman sent me an email on April 18, 2008 inquiring about whether I knew the whereabouts of Fouad As-Saden, one of the early founders and musicians of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO). She introduced herself as Fouad’s daughter whom she has not seen since 1964. She searched his name on the Internet and was directed to me through this INSO blog, which I have been maintaining for over three years. After we exchanged phone numbers and talked a couple of times, I emailed a large number of Iraqis requesting Fouad's tel. number.

Unfortunately, the number I had for As-Saden when I met and interviewed him in 2003 was not working in 2008! So it took us few weeks before obtaining his valid number. Yasmin, his daughter, contacted the French embassy in Baghdad to obtain his mobile number. Her first call to him was overwhelming having been after 45 years of separation and because they could not understand and hear each other well. She was uncomfortable with English and he was with French. As a result, I phoned him in Baghdad and had a conference call with Yasmin in Paris talking simultaneously. It was a touching voice reunion.

Theirs was an unsuccessful story of mixed marriages between easterners and westerners: The mother left Iraq with Yasmin and they never met with Fuad As-Saden again.

After several attempts of phoning her father and communicating with her half brother, Faris, in the UAE, Yasmin and her husband met with her half brother in the UAE on November 30, 2008. Later in Christmas of the same year, Yasmin’s son, Nicholas, visited Faris. Finally, Fouad As-Saden and his two sons, Faris and Zaid, met with Yasmine on November 13, 2009 in Erbil. This Movie-like reunion lasted for only five days. But for Fouad, it was his first trip outside Baghdad in 25 years!

About flying to Erbil from the UAE, wrote Yasmin, “We had to take a flight by an unknown airline company using an airplane without any logo on it to go to the North of Iraq. It was a strange and stressful situation for me. The flight was postponed for two hours, so we ended up flying at night over Iraq without any flashing lights! This added more stress. We arrived at about 8pm at Erbil airport

Then she continued, “Zaid, the elder brother came to introduce himself at the reception. It was our first meeting! He was gentle, nice and very shy. He helped us with our luggage. I had stomachache, I felt nauseous, and my heart was beating very strong before going to my father’s house and his wife. I entered first and saw my father; he was sitting on a sofa and his wife was standing up with her arms open to kiss me. After that I sat near my father on the sofa and he took my head in his hands and kissed me. My stress disappeared immediately after our meeting

About her father, Yasmin stated, “My father has no teeth. He walks with the help of a crutch taking small and slow steps. Sometimes I was very sad, my emotions were very strong. My father was old, yet I remembered a different image from the distant past, forty-five years ago. I was not sad about my parents’ divorce because it was their concern, but about the fact that I always thought that my father did not care about me. However, after this reunion, I have the answer; he has loved me, and still does.”

© Copyright Yasmin, 2009
Zaid (left) with his father, Fuad As-Saden and Yasmin

© Copyright Yasmin, 2009

Zaid (left), Yasmin, Faris (right) and his mother

The case of Yasmin finding her father through this INSO blog was not the only one in 2008. On July 28, 2008, the German niece of both INSO musicians, Nuri and Ghazi Bahjat, wrote to me inquiring about her uncle's contact information in Baghdad after twenty-eight years of separation. These stories have added value to this blog. I look forward to document other positive stories.