Saturday, December 11, 2004

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004
Good evening….
The weather is still cold, and the electricity bad.
Today I planted some new rose saplings in our garden; after I got back from work…the nursery is opposite our house…I walk each afternoon to see the new plants…how beautiful they are, pulsing with life.
In the Holy Quran, the description of Paradise Is that it is full of plants and fruits…the believers would be happy, while sitting there, or walking about its gardens.
The workday was crowded, as usual.
Azzam is abroad…. And work is making me tired, and exhausted…but I am happy to have my experience, taking my responsibilities bravely, and increasing my self-confidence.
The materials of new orders come from outside of Iraq; so, we form a team of engineers, take stock of the materials and make an inventory, then send some of it to the storage, keeping others in the shop, then write down every thing in lists, hanging the price lists on the notice board, after we receive an e-mail from Azzam with the new material's prices.
Work breeds self confidence, and dealing with people teaches us a lot… we encounter many types of people's personalities daily…some are smooth and easy to deal with, others are annoying and burdensome… but I try to make them all feel satisfied with our manners of dealing…I rarely quarrel with a customer and be rough with him…very rarely…this career taught me how to be more patient, diplomatic, and warm, in dealing with people.
The love and respect of people is a great art, which I learnt in this shop, and from direct dealing with people. All my life I have been a design engineer in an office…and when we opened up this shop, my husband and I, seven years ago, I was afraid, and confused about how to manage my business…I used to call Azzam in his office tens of times, asking him about every detail, big or small…but today, I have learnt how to manage the job, even if he was away for long months…
I feel very tired….but my happiness in managing the job makes me forget all aches.
Success is happiness….whether by raising children and seeing them successful in life, by achieving success in work, or in relations with people…
Why do I see various aspects of success sometimes connected with each other? Meaning, as they say, success drugs another success after it…
I do not think it is a matter of luck…but rather a manner of dealing with life.
And so is failure…not a matter of luck…but perhaps also a manner of dealing with life.
Today, a customer, a young man, entered the shop…I thought he was chic in his attire, rather, a little 'over-dressed', as if he was going to a party.
At first I ignored him…I was talking to my former secretary about something…so, one of the engineers went to him, to see to his need. Then he brought him to me… said he was a dentist looking for some device to prevent lime from accumulating on the dental equipments.
The secretary cut her speech, looked at him, laughed…then turned to me… I looked at her and laughed, then looked at my account book, trying to hide my laugh. I understood her laughter…he was a very attractive, smartly dressed young man…perhaps at the beginning of his thirties.
I do not know what men do when they see a very beautiful woman…I suppose they laugh and feel confused, like me, or what?? I don't know how they think…
There was some long talk about the suitable filters for the clinic, their catalogues, and prices. I answered his questions, avoiding looking at him, so I wouldn't be charmed…by GOD I laugh as I remember this…
Usually it is the man who is charmed by the woman…acting foolishly. I seldom heard about a woman who did this…and in the Holy Quran we have the story of Joseph and the Minister's wife, and how foolishly she acted, becoming the gossip stock of town.
If I was twenty years old, and met a man like this, one of the priorities of my life would have been how to win his heart…Huh… but today I see this a silly notion, even might I have been an independent woman, and not engaged…
My priorities in life has changed a lot…my head is full of History, Geography, Religion, the Clash of Cultures, the silly wars, and their destructive influence on people.
I do not know…. but somehow, my priorities in life has changed… I no longer care much for cloths, shoes, coiffures, or jewels, not at all… I have a lot of those, and they make me bored, they can no longer provide happiness to me.
Is it age, or the circumstances??
I can't tell…perhaps the war changes the moods of people.
This week, most of the orders at work were Water Treatment Systems for emergency use in Fallujah. There are some Humanitarian or Local Organizations who are trying to provide healthy drinking water to the residents of Fallujah, who are now living in camps outside their town. We provided systems with (100 cubic meters / hour) capacity, sand filters, and liquid chlorine or gas injection systems. The water source shall be the river….
At night, when I go to sleep in my room…the room would be so cold…electricity is off most of the day…as I do not operate the electric heaters…so, the room would be cold and damp… I hide beneath the blankets, shivering…remembering the people of Fallujah, who lost their homes, the roofs under which they take shelter, fending of the cold of winter…and my heart turns in pain…I no longer think of the cold of my room.
Raid sent 18 cartons of medicine from Amman two days ago, for which he paid from a donations campaign he announced on his web site. They included various injections for treating inflammations, or preventing them after medical operations, cotton, medical alcohol, syringes, and various medications for treating wounds and burns… he sent them with an Iraqi girl coming to Baghdad from Amman…
I went yesterday morning to her house with my driver, and a hired pick-up truck, we too the medicine from Adhamiya, where I photographed it and sent the pictures to Raid by e-mail, then a family friend, a doctor, went to Fallujah to deliver the boxes to the hospital there, but they found all accesses to Fallujah closed. There was an area, however, a provincial subsidiary of Fallujah, called Garmah, and the doctors of Al- Fallujah Hospital were working there, in the Garmah clinic, offering medical care to the people of Fallujah who left their homes, and took refuge in that area.
The medicines were handed over to the clinic, the pick-up went back to Baghdad, with its users, sometime after p.m…with the lists of medicine stamped, and signed, by the manager of the clinic, and a specialist in a department there.
Baghdad is full of families who ran from Fallujah; to their relatives…those relatives are in need now for help in providing the expenses of whole families living with them…like food, clothes, blankets, and extra bedding…the weather is cold…so, there is the need of fuel, and heaters too…people are helping, donating…. by way of Mosques, or small societies among neighborhoods.
I wish their ordeal would be over, and they would go to their homes, that the government would reconstruct what the fighting and confrontations destroyed there, as they promised…I wish this would happen, as soon as possible.
During the fighting in Fallujah, the news papers headlines, those who support the government, of course, used to announce: $ 140M to reconstruct Fallujah.
I used to smile when I see it, remembering the families scattered in buildings' frames and tents, in the biting cold…I used to ask those near me: Are these words like anesthetic injections, to ease off the pain? Will these promises be fulfilled, or just to clam down people's anger??
GOD Knows…and the coming days will show us truths, from lies.
Two weeks ago, I received an invitation by Internet, to attend a conference for Professional Iraqi Women, at the Conference Palace.
Azzam, as usual, was opposing. He said the security conditions were not permitting…but I was going to die of curiosity if I wouldn't go…Huh.
So we, a group of engineers, deliberated, decided to go, and participate.
Most of my friends in Societies go to the Conference Palace once or twice weekly, as an average…to meet foreign organizations, asking for financing for their projects, or to meet new, important people…and of course, nothing came out of it, no finance, and no projects, till now…all they got was nice talk, and promises…dreams and dreams…out of which nothing was ever fulfilled, yet…
We arrived at the Conference Palace, so, our driver went to wait for us in the nearby garage, until we finish our meeting… there were some barbed wires, and I saw young people, holding cameras and wearing jeans, jumping over it, and moving towards the passages that were surrounded by cement barrels filled with sand…as if it was a battle front…. As if?!
It is really a battlefront here…for there are always some mortar shells falling on the Green Zone…and I suppose the Conference Palace is considered a part of it…
I moved ahead to cross over the barbed wires, my friend shouted in warning, but I didn't hear her, so, I soon found my trousers hooked to the sharp parts of the wire, and could no longer move…the guards came and stepped over the wire with their feet…I shouted at them, because they wouldn't let us pass by the gate…they disentangled the cloth of the trousers from the sharp, small thorns that were ripping it…the cloth was almost ruined…many threads were pulled out of it, gapping out…I felt sorry for it, because it was a part of a beautiful suit I only wear for happy occasions. Huh. Where is happiness here today?
We passed by the boring security passages, we presented our identity cards many times, our bags were searched many times, and so were our shoulders, backs, and chests…what an ordeal…we said “Good Morning” some twenty times, we smiled, and paid courtesies to all we saw, Iraqis, or non-Iraqis…
Then, at last, we entered the grand hall of the Palace, I mean, the Interior Hall…the Iraqi women were talking and saluting each other, then saluting some American men and women whom they were acquainted to previously…with some on-going issues between them…
I stood aside…feeling lonely…. That was the second time I got here…and the place had an effect on me…there was a feeling of foreboding, and sadness, here the conferences for Arabic and Foreign Delegations used to be held, there was an Iraqi State, with a form, a Presence, and Dignity, in spite of its faults, and the dictatorship of its leader…now, all is gone…. Iraq now is a torn country, across which the winds of destruction and chaos are storming about… and this Conference Palace became an important center of the occupation force…around which some soldiers move about, while drinking Nescafe, and on some sections there are signs bearing the words: No Entry…Army Restricted Zone.
And on the sign, there is an American flag…
Something inside of me broke…and the joy of my day vanished…
I felt sadness, and humiliation…. which I do not know how to explain.
I looked at the outside green garden…. at the grass…the palm trees…among which personals of the American Army stroll…who would have thought this would be a stepping of their feet??
I don't know…. I see handsome men…with colored eyes, and shining faces…but they are strangers…and their military uniforms break my heart…announcing that some tragedy has befallen, and an occupation…
Who knows the meaning of occupation??
Strangers walking in your house…acting like it is theirs. And you cannot tell them: what are you doing here?? Who brought you??
By what right did you enter my house??
No, you are not allowed to encroach them.
For today, they are the masters of the house, and their word is the one obeyed.
At the Conference Hall, some Iraqi women were sitting, and some American women were on the stage. Some were civilians, and some military. Then I understood that some of them are engineers, explaining how to fill some special forms, for contractors. During the discussions, the Iraqis protested, saying that they have submitted all the requirements, but their companies were not given any work for the last months.
The American engineer said that those were new requirements, and within the coming 60 days, new projects will be implemented.
I remembered the American lady who came from Kuwait, saying she will get financing for Iraqi Societies, that there are some projects for British Companies, whom they want Iraqi contractors to implement, starting next month…and of course, the months passed, and nothing happened…
I saw her today, smiling, standing there…I asked my friends about her…they said: we got nothing out of her…only talk, and promises.
I looked at the Iraqi women sitting there, I knew almost all of them…engineers, doctors, or the chairwomen of women's societies. Almost all of them were out of work….going always to the Conference Palace looking for an investment, a contract, or financing…taking risks with their lives, and reputations.
I thought to myself: What am I doing here?? I have a lot of work waiting for me at the shop… and stretching a hand to deal with the Americans is a subject I hesitate about very much.
The conditions are still unsettled, and unclear, we do not all agree to the good will of the occupiers, his intentions are still the aim of our doubts, and the subject of our debates, so, how can we put our hands in theirs, acting foolishly, risking our lives?
I decided to leave the hall…
With all my respect to those who were present, and their reasons for being there…each had her own circumstances.
My circumstances, and convictions are advising me to leave.
If I would have met those American women in other circumstances, in another place…some other time…perhaps we could have been friends. As for now, I saw myself in the wrong place, with unsuitable people.
I went back to the shop, and found it filled with customers, I laughed and told my employees: Um Raid (mother of Raid) is the head of the job, and its arm and leg…if she is absent…things become difficult and complicated…
They laughed and said: By GOD you are right…
Yes, my place is here…helping people with my knowledge and science, instead of risking my life foolishly.
We discussed all possibilities of constructing an emergency system of purifying river water, for the people of Fallujah, in residential clusters near town.
I originally intended to give them clarifying filters, then some Ultra- Violate devices for purifying. But those we have now are not capable of high capacities output, so we suggested Chlorine Injection (Gas or Liquid) Systems, after clarifying. We signed the contract with an Iraqi contractor.
Next week, we shall supply, and mount the devices, by the Will of GOD.
At the Sharm al-Sheikh meeting, France demanded from America to set a timetable for the occupation's withdrawal from Iraq, but America refused to make this issue a dialogue point…
Some of my American friends write to me by e-mail, trying to convince me that America has no greed in Iraq, that they will withdraw as soon as peace is accomplished in Iraq…I wish I can be naive enough to believe this…
The reality of the situation here says that they will remain forever…this chaos and daily fighting, the conditions getting worst day after day. Six months ago the situation was better…there were some foreign organizations working… foreign and Arabic companies for contracts, and project implementation…now, all these run away from Iraq…as if the criminals are gaining victory on us.
Translated by May/ Baghdad.

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