Friday, September 17, 2004

Monday, September 13, 2004
Good evening…..
Baghdad today is calm and quiet…Yesterday was the day of explosions…I went out to finish some lagging matters, but found all the streets closed, we kept turning around, trying to get on, without success, until I told the driver: Take me back home, for half the day has passed uselessly…
There were some bombings in the morning, the noises of mortar grenades shelling on the Airport, then on the Green Zone, then the explosion of a trapped car near the bridge of the Embassies Quarters in Ameriyya…
All accesses and streets leading to the area were sealed….
Every body's business was halted……..
And by evening, T.V. screens showed reports of violence acts and fighting in Haifa street, between the American forces and Iraqi Gunmen. We are tired, we no longer ask-What, How, or Who??
Then we saw Al-Arabiya Channel Correspondent get shot in front of the camera, and die. He was only 26 years old.
I kept thinking of his poor parents all night long, and what they would do. He was a young man at the beginning of his life's journey.
How many young men like him fell here, whether we know them or not, the victims of a stupid, foolish war, which some stupid, foolish people still support, not knowing what they are doing.
And the news of the two kidnapped Italian girls is still obscure…
There is an organization that threatens to kill them, and of course you will find the words Islam or Muhammad in the organization's name….so that the Media proposed story would be complete.
The organization that kidnapped the girls reaped the results of its crime exactly as planned.
All the Humanitarian Organizations members remaining in Iraq has left, that was the First Target, and the threats to kill them, issued in the name of an Islamic organization, in the name of GOD, and in the defense of Islam…and that was the Second Target- to Destroy and Maim what is left of Islam….
To kidnap two girls from a humanitarian organization, whose attitude is well known against the war on Iraq, , and against the Berlusconi war- supporting Government…why didn't they kidnap Italian soldiers, for example???
Because they are lying cowards, and their hands couldn't reach further than peaceful women who carry no weapons and wear no armors…
These women came here to help the Iraqis, to build their schools and hospitals…who decided they are the required target??? Who else but a coward who doesn't even have the ability to face men… just like the cowards who drew weapons in my face and robbed my car…if they had an ounce of manhood they wouldn't have stood in the face of a defenceless woman who carried no weapons…
I pray to GOD day and night to save Simona Torreta and Simona Parri and those with them in this ordeal, send them home to their family in safety, and expose those who were behind this organized crime, to have HIS revenge upon them, and scandalize them…GOD is the one capable of everything.
This week was full of events and confrontations for me…
As for the Women's Society, there was a meeting at the Conference Palace with an American lady whose husband is an Iraqi, and she has a humanitarian organization in Kuwait.
We went to the Conference Palace, the driver drove away after dropping me at the gate, and I told him to come back for me in 2 hours.
This was the first time I entered the place, I was dying of curiosity…I wanted to see what's in there, for I always heard about it, but no occasion occurred to take me there… now I have my Women's Society ID, and we have a meeting, and that was a story I shall keep repeating at every checkpoint…
I can't recall how many checkpoints, but my handbag was opened, and its contents scattered many times, while I smiled patiently…wanting to get to the meeting, and find an end to all this torment.
The labyrinths I walked through, surrounded by cement barrels filled with sand, then surrounded by barbed wire, all say that we are here in the heart of battle.
I took my first steps saying: In the name of GOD, by GOD let it be cool and safe… If I die here, take me to YOU as a martyr who died for the Iraqis, her whole intention is to work well for them. If you keep me alive, BE with me, and help me finish the road in the way that satisfies YOU.
That is how I give my self confidence, and drive fears away…
Inside the Conference Palace is another world… a quiet, beautiful, clean world…the soldier's faces are nice and smiling, not like the grim faces of those in the streets driving Humphys or tanks, their faces cruel and frightening.
Some of them sat in a hall, behind glass partitions, working quietly on a lap-top. Others moved around in the various halls, carrying cups from which the Nescafe' aroma was spreading. The whole atmosphere here is peaceful and calm… The Iraqis here are a certain type, cooperative and very much convinced about the atmosphere… No, I wouldn't call them traitors or such…perhaps they are satisfied as to the rightness of this relationship, the rightness of collaboration with the invading forces. And I do not mean the visitors like me, but the employees who come here daily, facing death and fear everyday, or face being assassinated at their front doors as they get home in the evening...
Yes, it is a risk, my judgment, and my question is: Is it for the sake of the job here, and the high salary??
I do not know, for the equation is tough, and even if you ask the American soldier himself: Why are you here?? Isn't it for the high salary??
Do not tell me it's about freedom and democracy and all that nonsense…
Even if such was the case back in America, when you get to Baghdad, you will see the other side of the story, and will be shocked by the painful question: Why am I here?? The high salary will then become the solace to your sadness.
I finally got inside the building…and asked about the meeting place, then looked for hall No. 4, and found it upstairs. It was empty, the meeting to start in a short while…so I walked around the floor, then spotted a cafeteria, where I stopped and had some juice… I wandered slowly, meditating… in the 1990 war this building was bombed by American planes, or guided missiles from the Red Sea, and before the last war, the former government carried out a major maintenance campaign for the building, which probably cost millions… and during the Air Raids in the last war I said to Azzam: Maybe they will not bomb all presidential sites, for they will need some of them, and wouldn't harm it… and as I expected, the Conference Palace was not harmed…as if fate was mocking Saddam Hussein: Did you reconstruct it to become a post for them???
Well, the world is full of silent irony…
I moved around in the floor, gazing at the slogans, carvings and ornamentations, some of them used to have photos of Saddam Hussein, but those has been destroyed… and slogans like: Coolness and Peace… The Martyrs are The Most Generous of Us All… remained.
I read those and smiled… I imagined the voice of Saddam Hussein still ringing around the hall, and the noise of those who clapped for him, and cheered him… how foolish Man is, and how full of lies and hypocrisy??
If the walls could speak of what it has heard here, perhaps people would feel ashamed, and be wiser.
I felt lies were mingling with truth, right with wrong, and there is no clear identity for anything… that's how the world is today….. Double-faced, and disgusting.
The American lady arrived, along with members of Iraqi non-governmental humanitarian organizations, from Baghdad, and from the South, men and women… there were some men who are the heads of organizations caring for children ill with Cancer, or young people addicted to drugs.
I found that most people present did not speak English, so I volunteered to work as an interpreter, and in truth, I found it an enjoyable task, as I laughed a lot, maybe because I was a volunteer, I performed the task with a full mood, and by the audience's, so we laughed a lot… but were I an employee, I would have been more serious, and wouldn't even smile…..
All right, the lady was very respectable, and decently dressed, wearing a two- piece costume, in the Gulf women fashion ( a long dress, over which she was wearing a long black overcoat, embroidered by golden threads)…Her hair was completely white… she was nice and calm…very elegant and clean, and she smelled of refreshing shampoo ( these are my personal impressions, because I stood beside her on the platform all the meeting…).
Her speech was logical and calm, she said she lives in Kuwait, and knows a lot of rich families there who want to help Iraqis, Mothers to Mothers, and Fathers to Fathers. She said she can collect donations, clothes or books or toys, for poor and orphaned Iraqi children. She shall try to explain to us how to prepare project's proposals, that could have a chance to be implemented, and get funding… the important factor being the budget, for however small and logical it was, that project would gain a chance to reach the implementation stage.
The audience had a lot of questions, mostly from frustrated people, as they submitted their projects, only to be rejected time and again, without finance… or that someone took the financing to himself, and run away…
The woman said she sympathizes with them, and want them to give her a chance to help them again…
A woman present protested, she had a society, saying to me: Ask her why our people are poor, while our country is full of wealth?
I laughed and said: What has she to do with that?? Are we going to tell her our life story??
Laughter spread in the hall, but the woman insisted and said: Ask her, I looked at the lady in embarrassment, what has that subject to do with what we are about? I felt ashamed to tell her, because I found that as an insult to her…
Tell her we do not want the used clothes she will bring us… tell her that every dollar she will give us is our money…Iraqis money…
I fell to laughter, and couldn't translate; I found these questions unnecessarily aggressive. This is not Mrs. Bush; this is a lady who came to help.
The lady was standing beside me, wondering at what is happening, as I told them: Listen, we are humanitarian organizations; we do not say this is an American, so we do not want her help, or those are Kuwaitis, so we do not want their help. She came to help us in the name of humanity…we are all brothers here…
The angry woman said: This is your personal opinion, tell her ours…
I started explaining, feeling embarrassed.
Her husband came into the hall, he is an Iraqi Doctor working here…he stood beside her and explained what they said…then addressed the audience…
I told them: well, this is her husband, an Iraqi, so listen to what he has to say… of course they laughed, and said: We didn't know her husband is an Iraqi, then she is one of us… and all was quiet again.
The talk returned to being clear and friendly, not interrupted by troublesome people. Strange how people sometimes think???
I went back home full of hope and happiness…I shall write plenty of projects. But I was surprised by an angry Azzam: The conditions are not proper, working with the Society is dangerous for you and the family, and I suggest freezing your activities with them for the coming month or two… go to work in the morning, but cancel all your social activities, we want no troubles…in the evening when I get back, tell me your opinion.
I told my self: Thank GOD there is still room for democracy, I'll think very well, and be prepared to give my opinion. I sat down with my papers, pencils, and calculator…and started thinking of my project about marketing and selling the products of poor Iraqi families.
Azzam came back in the evening…. I said: I want to talk, will you listen?
He looked coolly, as usual, then nodded his head in agreement.
I told him that people are different…the matter of difference arising from the vision each has towards life. Some people like sacrifices and participation, while others feel afraid, and want to hide, perhaps so they could stay alive longer… in the meeting today I saw a light as if coming from far away… the light of hope in building a new Iraq…and the contributing to that building… this is a priceless happiness. I went to the meeting regardless of danger and fear, but I came back with a strong, happy, optimistic personality…
If I sit at home, I will see nothing but frustration, sadness, and bad news, explosions, death and destruction… this is our daily life… but social work has a different taste, gives hope of a beautiful future, and to participate in manufacturing that future is boundless happiness…
I who saw criminals in front of my face with their weapons, they almost killed me, they robbed me of my car, I remained shocked and frustrated, closed the door of my room and cried….for a week or more. Then I came back to my life, stronger, more active, and convinced. I do not want those scums to have their victory upon me. I don't want thieves to fill the streets, government jobs, and public societies, while I hide at home… I will keep participating, pushing towards the better, and if they kill me, do not be sad for me, but say she died happy and satisfied. This is the life that I see worthy of living… I do not want to hide like a rat…
Azzam remained unconvinced, indignant….
Saturday came, that was the weekly meeting of the Society, I called and apologized about not coming… I told them the situation at home is tense, and I learned not to escalate situations…
I always have my life's priorities…GOD, then the family.
I do not want to cause trouble in the family. Next week by GOD's will I shall attend. Call me this evening and tell me what your discussion was at the organization today??
I thought to my self, the parable says: Behind every great man there is a woman who supports him.
I said to my self: and in front of every intelligent, ambitious woman there is a man who opposes her… her father, brother, or husband… one time propelled by love, another by fear for her…. That is the reason for the shortage of distinguished women in our lives…. How many a woman who had intelligence, abilities, and ambitions was aborted and killed, because she is a woman.
With whom do we discuss these questions??? With women?? Or men???
In the evening, two members in the society's administration group called. They said the meeting was a battle. The head of the society monopolizes conferences and training courses abroad to herself, spends the society's money in her own way, and refuses questioning and giving accounts. So come in the next meeting, and speak up….
I Put my hand on my cheek again: How many sorrows we see, and how many lovely dreams is spoiled by the selfish?? We joined this society to contribute, and work honestly…and here we are colliding with corruption, selfishness, and single-mindedness in authority… a contagious virus from Saddam Hussein, or perhaps it is an old virus, since the beginning of man's history.
There is a parable that says: They asked the Pharaoh, why have you become an unjust tyrant?? And he said: No body stopped me in my limits….
I told my colleagues in the administration group: Next meeting we shall speak frankly, and stop the new Pharaoh in her limits.
Life is tiring, but interesting .
The engineer who came a few weeks ago, to whom I gave a softener system's offer, then his colleague came to offer buying it from me, to sell it back to the factory, with a price of his own, so I threw him out of the shop…
Well, that first engineer came today, paid the money, and took the equipments… he said the factory Manager sent his greetings, he read your name on the card, and said: I know this engineer, isn't she UM Raid ( Raid's mother)??
He called his wife and asked her about you, said she knew you… then the manager suggested that we buy only from you the next times…
I laughed and asked: How do they know me?? He said: I didn't really get it, perhaps they were with you in collage, the Manager and his wife are both engineers.
I smiled and said inside: This is a small sign that GOD is with what is right. All the conspiracies of the Purchasing Committee has failed, and GOD supported me some way.
I still have the matter of Majid…
He called me, angry, and said: Mama, I am not in Vancouver, I am in British Colombia…
I said: Wait, let me get the Atlas and look, so I could understand you…
In the Atlas I found that Vancouver was a small island, and British Colombia was a big state. I said: But darling, when you got there you said you were in Vancouver, and the collage is in a town one hour from there… so I thought your town is the smaller one. All right, I'll tell everyone you are in the town of Victoria, in the district of British Colombia, and I'll write the name of the school.
''Pearson college of the Pacific, Victoria, BC ''
He said: Mama, we see the coast of California from here…
I said: Son, are you crazy?? California is in the south, perhaps you see the coast of Seattle… he stubbornly refused my opinion… so I said: All right, I have the Atlas in front of me… go buy one for your self, so u would believe me…

I hoped all the problems of the people, and their quarrels about life matters could be solved as we solved the problem of Geography by the Atlas…
Look for your self, and be sure…. But Man was created a lover of arguments and debate… and these are tiring traits.
No two people could agree to a solution….
GOD created the world, and humans…
HE has the wisdom of everything….

Translated by May/ Baghdad.

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