Sunday, March 07, 2004

February 29, 2004

It is now eight in the evening... the generator is running outside. I have a headache and I'm
sleepy, but I can't sleep. There are things bothering me and making me nervous. My day was crowded
with a lot of work and talk. Foreign organizations came asking for laboratory equipment and they all
gathered today, as if someone reminded them of me suddenly.

I would show the equipment to one group, explain how to use it... give them the price and then
make out a receipt for the buyers... then turn to welcome another delegation. I smile, and explain
and order tea for them- most of them like Iraqi tea. An Italian organization, then a French one,
then German... all of their projects are for the people. I respect them very much because they are
risking their lives for humanitarian work. I remain happy for long days because they remind me that
good hasn't been cut away from all humans: there are still those who believe and work for the
people... strange people they aren't related to except in that they are brothers in humanity.


As I was making out a bill, I was surprised to note that today was 2/29 and not 3/1 because I had
given the employees their wages yesterday. I sat in the morning counting the money in the safe for
the monthly stock check, all the while feeling guilty for not having done the monthly sale check.
I turned to my employees and asked, "Why didn't you tell me that this year is a leap year?" They
smiled and said, "We didn't know. Like you, we thought the month ended yesterday." I started
feeling happy- this was another day I hadn't expected. I checked my email quickly and printed some
letters while talking. I couldn't read anything. I felt that the day was boring and I wouldn't have a
few small moments to be by myself.


The phone rang and there was the voice of a relative. "Busy?" She asked me. "Yes." I answered.
"I'll call later" she said and hung up. I had a mysterious feeling that something catastrophic had
happened. I remained busy with the customers. The mobile phone rang... I looked at it... a call from
Jordan. It was Azzam. I asked him worriedly about his news, his family and Raed. He calmly told me
that everything was alright. I thought to myself, "Then some catastrophe must have happened to the
relatives in Baghdad." The anxiety began flowing through my blood.

There were still some customers when the phone rang a second time. It was her again. I told her
that her voice wasn't right... was there a problem? Talk. She replied, "A catastrophe." Her voice
wavered and my heart shivered. "My son," she said, "they abducted him this morning while he was on
his way to the university. They dragged him out of the car and took him. He called from his mobile
phone and told his father that he was in the trunk of the car...'I've been kidnapped by someone'
he said. We are all gathered at home- can you come?" I put my face in my hands and thought... here
starts the trip of agony and negotiations... how much will you pay? When will we see him???


We hear these stories every day and I expect it to happen to me or my kids. No one has protection.
We leave our homes with terror and anxiety and return with them. I don't know how the rest of the
day passed... I wasn't in my usual cheerful mood anymore. I apologized to the customers and told
them I was tired so that they wouldn't prolong the conversation and the questions. They were very
understanding and tried to console me. I felt a pain in my stomach by the end of the working day
and didn't even feel like drinking water.

Those relatives of ours own a shop... and they have modern cars. Those two things attract thieves-
especially since they don't live in an expensive neighborhood. Their situation attracts attention.
I called the boys to tell them I was going to be late, and went directly to our relative's house.
I locked the doors inside of the car and felt tense the whole way, imagining a gang would stop me
and abduct me... I'm also a valuable catch for thieves. As I kept thinking, my terror kept
increasing. I finally got to the parking area of their building and stopped my car. I calmly stepped down
and knocked on the door. One of the guests opened it. The house was strangely silent... full of
people and silence.

I said, "Al Salamu Alaikum... God willing he'll be back safe..." I wasn't sure what to say to
someone on an occasion like this. The father thanked me and told me to go inside- the women were
there. He pointed to the right and I went to the room where the boy's mother, her relatives and
neighbors were sitting. She was pale and her eyes were swollen. I held her to me and said, "Be patient
and pray to God that he may be back safe..." I sat and listened to her telling the story...

"I told him in the morning 'Don't take the car- I need it today.'" She said. "But he was stubborn
and he went off to college. His father had left before him to work, but he came back early and
told me that our son had called him and said that some unknown people had abducted him. He was in the
trunk of the car and they were taking him to a strange place." He had left the car near the house.
The car, of course, had been an old model and that was probably why they didn't take it. Had it
been one of those newer cars, they would have taken it with the boy. And now we were sitting and
waiting for them to call and give their conditions.

I drowned in my thoughts... there is no ideal way to prevent such things from happening. If the
boy leaves alone in his car, they'll abduct him. If he leaves with a driver- related or strange- no
one could prevent the abduction. We heard of many situations. Every story has different details
that leads one to believe that there is no ideal or standard way to prevent it... there are even
people who were abducted from right in the middle of their personal bodyguards- so don't tell me it's
a lack of caution.

I am convinced that it is a case of God's will... he does what he wants. I recalled a short story
Tolstoy had written about a man sleeping in the forest. A bee came along to sting him... it
hovered and hovered and there was an angel to chase it away- so it left. A bear came along or something
like that- I can't remember exactly- he passed and couldn't hurt him. Then came thieves who wanted
to steal his wallet... and somehow they ended up running away without taking it. Several tragedies
occurred, but not a single one harmed him. He woke up, smiled, yawned and said, "What a lovely
place this is- and how safe it is!"

Of course, he didn't know there was an angel guarding him, smiling and standing by his side. I
still believe in that angel... or I wouldn't be here... and I wouldn't be able to cope with the daily


I got home before dark. I called my relatives late at night. There had been a phone call from the
abductors and negotiations. They told them that they would call in the morning to give them the
final answer. How will the night pass for his mother, father and siblings? I stayed up thinking all
night... and waiting for the morning.

{traslated by riverbend }

<< Home

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

Extreme Tracker