Friday, January 16, 2004

Saturday 10/1/2004

Today I want to explore a new topic for discussion. As a result of many
questions I got by email and in order to alleviate the boredom that I
feel and to alleviate the general feeling of depression in Iraq, I
decided to talk about something personal, about our daily life. All the
schools are having mid term exams. Usually these are tense times in our
family. Each one of the kids is hiding in his room and you can not expect
any aid from them because he would just yell “I have exams, leave me
alone!”. They stay up till late at night and wake up early to finish
studying. I have to pressure them and beg them so they would eat breakfast.
Warnings are issued that if they don’t eat breakfast they won’t be able
to answer well to the questions of the exam… Mama warnings! Usually
they listen to my pleadings and as they are running towards the car they
ask mama that she won’t forget them all day long and to pray from their
good performance in the exam. I stay worried and occupied all day long
until they come back and then I feel relieved. And so we start again
the next day, the thinking and worrying, what does tomorrow hold? Why is
life so pre-determined and repeatable?
When we are children we are just innocent and naive creatures. Then we
learn and grow up. In our teens we become troublesome creatures for
our families and ourselves. Then we grow up a bit and learn
responsibility and we mature. We start to feel comfortable, we become confident and
we gain inner peace. But our children stir this peace. So we start to
worry about them and worry about their future. Now I remember my mom and
dad, I feel all the pain that they lived through in order to raise us.
All the troubles they have faced when they had limited income and many
children. We now both work, me and Azzam, the income of the family is
excellent, praise to God. We worked hard and long in many companies and
many different countries. Then suddenly, without intending to, we found
out that work opportunities were better here, because the market is in
need for new skills and sets of expertise. The kids became involved
with their studies, that is what made us stay here. We are always trying
to meet the demand of the home and the kids, we stay worried about the
future. I think that people in the olden days were more at ease and had
more peace of mind. Life was calm and safe. Life was less complex,
people’s dreams where simple and naive.
We were 8 kids, 4 girls and 4 boys. We studied and graduated from
universities (Engineering, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy) It did not cost
my family a thing because university was free. In the Eid Alsagheer
(Muslim holiday) they would buy us new clothes, we would put them away and
wear then again in Eid Al Kabeer (another muslim holiday). Because
their budget was too limited to purchase new clothing on both occasions.
Both Eids had a short interval between them. My father used to own a
bookstore In Baghdad’s old market, he sold books and stationary. It was
called Al Sarai market. It is still there till today. Our house was
located near the market and so were the schools. Sometimes we would go to the
store to help out. We would be shaking with fear when one of our
teachers would walk into the store to buy pencils or notebooks from my dad,
we would hide under the table so that the teacher wouldn’t see us. We
used to respect this greater than life figure called teacher, because
that job was sacred unsoiled by sins. The teachers had lots of self
respect, they knew that this job held a big responsibility towards raising a
generation and not just teaching kids to read and write. We were a
humble family. We lived in a house with many rooms, old design, In the
basement a storage place for my dad’s library. He had hundreds of books,
stories and novels, historical and religious books, folkloric books and
old songs. During the summer holiday we would go down into the storage
room and sink into reading all these books. My poor mom would scream and
yell and we wouldn’t help her out in the house work. I always remember
this when my kids give me a hard time and I laugh. I tell myself, such
is life. You torment your mother today and tomorrow your son will
torment you. It is divine justice. My mom would spend the whole day doing
the laundry, cooking, cleaning the house. She didn’t have a servant to
help her out, nor home appliances. She would wake up early in the morning
to make us breakfast, then she would wake us up and help us get ready
to go to school. Then she would go to the market to buy fruits,
vegetables, meat to be cooked on that day only. That is what life was like in
those days, and everybody found a way to live. I learned to be energetic
from my mom, but I find myself to be spoiled compared to the women of
the previous generation. They were deprived of education and work and
had to dedicate themselves to house work. This has its own advantages and
disadvantages. My mom would tell us you are better than me, because you
went to school, you won’t be prisoners of the authority of a husband
and kids. They can become tyrants when they grow up. We didn’t really
understand what she meant, but then we grew up and witnessed the cruelty
of the world. Life passes and everybody wants to fulfill his own
ambitions without caring about others. We started to understand that it is
beautiful to have our own dreams and ambitions, makes us sense our own
humanity, without neglecting our kids and home. My generation is less
likely to get depressed, because we don’t feel like useless creatures that
spend their time doing nothing. My mom and dad died many years ago, but
I remember all the details of those days. I regret every advice they
gave me that I didn’t listen to. I regret each word I said to them in a
loud voice and a defiant attitude. I would argue with them with the
enthusiasm and foolishness of my youth. Now I laugh at myself when my
children become stubborn and argumentative. I tell them I used to be like
you when I was your age when I had no experience. I was stubborn and
arrogant, I thought I was smarter than them all, just like you are doing
now. I wonder how many wishes where shattered and how many ambitions I
couldn’t achieve? How many things I thought were beautiful, I exhausted
myself in order to get them, only to discover that they are trivial
illusions. How many years of your life will you spend running after a
mirage and then another mirage until your get reasonable and mature and
stop this foolishness.
Now we live in a detached house with a big garden around it. Baghdad is
a flat city and the buildings tend to be low, not many high buildings
around, because these is lots of room for construction. There are many
wide areas that could be used for construction still. Our house is wide
with four bedrooms and sittings rooms, dining room, a big kitchen, a
storage room and three bathrooms. There is a woman that usually comes in
three times a week to help me clean the house. I need her help because
time passes quickly and I don’t have enough time to do everything. I go
to work at the store before 10 am, I get back home after 2 in the
afternoon. At the store we sell imported laboratory equipment used to test
the quality of drinking water, it can also be used in factories or
laboratories. We also sell water filters that can be used by individuals,
organizations, governmental agencies, embassies or hospitals. Many
clients come to the store from all walks of life. I discuss the customer’s
needs when they come in, I help them choose a suitable piece of
equipmeny. Sometimes I am busy writing acquisition requests or doing inventory
management. When I am busy with other work I ask another engineer to
deal with the customers and he can always come ask me questions if he
gets into any difficulties. I am the operations manager, I look after
sales, inventory, and all the details of the daily business … we have
management staff and engineers working at the store. I like to think that
we are like a family and not just coworkers at business. Because I am a
woman, I like to be spoiled at work, which means I get the men to do
things like taking care of the electric generator, the gas, the oil,
pushing the heavy carts, paying bills , cleaning the pavement outside the
store, giving money to the beggars (there are so many). I gave
instructions not to turn the beggars away, we have a set schedule for giving
these people money, each group of beggars has a day of the week. Sometimes
I get busy with the computer, I can’t hear anything nor do I pay
attention to anything and them comes the loud shouts. I sometimes wish I
could close the store and just surf the internet looking for websites about
swimming pools and websites about water pollution issues, I don’t even
go have lunch. Raed would say, Mama enough this addiction! I justify it
to muself, I say that they are obnoxious. They are spoiling my few
moments of pleasure. I sometimes wish the day was 48 hours or 72 or more.
This 24 hours goes by quickly and I haven’t done a thing.
The neighbors always say that I am hiding. I always apologize because I
am busy. They are all house wives. When we get together, they ask me to
tell them the latest news, since they are locked up in the house and
they have no new news. I tell them many different stories about what I
have heard and seen in previous days, we laugh, drink tea and eat with it
pastry or cake. We discuss world affairs and politics. Sometimes we
agree and sometimes we disagree…. Depends on the mood. My neighbor on the
left was a Baathist, so was her husband. They were very isolated,
nobody liked them. Now they are even more isolated, we never see them. My
neighbors on the right, most of their family was deported to Iran during
the war with Iran. That was Saddam’s great effort in solving problems.
Also their brother was executed. My neighbor to the right of her, her
brother was executed by Saddam. The neighbor next to her , most of her
brothers immigrated abroad to escape Saddam because they were
communists. The people living behind us, their uncle was executed by Saddam,
because he hosted a person belonging to the Al Da’awa party in his house.
What a blood stained history. Everybody hates him and swears at him. We
remember the war days and laugh at our sorrow. I say we got out of a
hole and fell into another. One of them would interrupt me to say no! we
got out of a hole and fell into a water well. We explode laughing.
When work hours are over, I pass many stores before I go home. I buy
vegetables, fruits cheeses and bread. I take my clothes to be ironed and
also to buy things I need like shampoo or other cosmetics. There is a
specific cosmetics store that has un tampered merchandise. Also I might
need to repair a watch or exchange batteries, buy bedroon linens or
towels or other stuff that you only buy once in a while. I try to rush
when I am shopping because I am usually hungry and lunch hour is near.
After lunch I might go to sleep, read or surf the internet . In the
evening, I either go visit one of the neigbours or I go with the driver to
the market to go shopping for clothes and shoes, depending on the
occasion. I might have to visit the doctor or get a hair cut or visit one of
my sisters. After eight in the evening, is dinner time. We all gather
together in front of the TV. The kids eat and laugh while staring at the
screen. These are the happiest moment of my life. When the outside door
is locked and the family gathers together, we are eating dinner and our
number is complete. Nobody is outside and nobody is traveling
somewhere. I think it must be the same for all the mothers of the world. That is
why I hate the wars and disasters, because they rip families apart. I
wish peace to the whole world and to all mothers. If it was upto women
there would be no wars in the world because we love our husbands, sons,
brothers and fathers too much.

[translation by]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Extreme Tracker