Sunday, January 04, 2004

Friday, December 26th, 2003:
I visited the neighbours today. The lady told me she wants to immigrate and sell the house. All her children live abroad and life here is difficult with no sign of improvement in the near future. She is right. I wish I could think like her, then all my psychological problems would be over. But I am too attached to this land. Despite all the trouble and disaster, I love my country and would accept no substitute. We have an apartment in Amman and right before the war broke out my husband suggested that the kids and I stay there until the war ends. We were on vacation at the time and I rejected the
idea completely. The thought of the war taking place while I was away from Iraq drove me crazy and I hurriedly returned to Baghdad. It is a matter of principle! Many people ridiculed my decision, even my sisters called me a hopeless romantic but I stuck to my decision and have no regrets. I told them I had not been there with them during any of the previous wars and I felt guilty for that. I also had a hunch that this would be Iraq’s final war, and I had to share the experience of war first hand with my family, neighbours and friends and therefore decided to remain in Baghdad and not to leave whatever the circumstances. Besides, what is there to live for if you all die and I am still alive? What would I do? Life would be pointless and dull.
Those who experience the war have higher spirits than those living abroad listening to the news worrying sick over friends and family. I have experienced that feeling before during the Iraq-Kuwait war while I was living in Amman. I cried daily feeling helpless worrying over my family and loved ones in Iraq. Being there with everyone during wartime is a mercy; consoling each other, laughing at the status quo, and hoping to live to tell the stories.
The early days of the war were easy on the people. The main targets were presidential and the army. Then the airborne attacks got closer to strike targets in residential areas and this is when disaster struck. Days and nights became frightfully scary, and fear prevented us from going to sleep. The first night I took a valium tablet and slept like the dead, but with
time the valium stopped being effective and the intensity of the raids did not subside. The whole house would shake and the windows would break and we’d have to board up the windows. We’d wake up in the morning with pale faces and headaches from pain and worry. Many families left their houses to areas far from Baghdad, but they were also haunted with the fear that their
houses would be burgled or destroyed by the strikes. That was until the day the US forces entered Baghdad airport; that day was living hell for most residents of the capital, and we all left our houses to stay with relatives living far from the airport area. I still think and wonder what Saddam was betting on when he sacrificed us into that hell! No one felt with us
bombarded by the US army with the Arab satellite channels screaming the breaking news of the daily attacks on Baghdad, and the whole time the Americans believing that no civilians are coming to harm! Only God knows how we survived those days, hearing news of raids on locations where military leaders ‘supposedly’ were, where innocent civilians were killed instead, which is precisely what happened during the strike at the Al-Sa’a restaurant in Al Mansour at around three in the afternoon when the street was packed with people walking about thinking they’d be safe in daylight when there are no strikes! The buildings shook at the intensity of the attack, windows broke and houses were demolished on the families trapped inside. Those were harsh, dark days and we don’t know who takes responsibility for them. Both sides lay blame on each other, and no one pays the price but us. We still do. And I cannot stand like an idiot and forget all we saw and idiotically applaud the occupying army. I am sorry but the scene is too painful and those on the stage are tiresome.

translated By: Candide

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