Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Friday, November 17th, 2006
Peace be upon you…
To finish my talk about my visit to Baghdad…
We went to the restaurant in Al-Mansoor Dist., I found my friend and her children waiting for me. I was happy to see them; they asked me about our news and conditions in Amman. I told them that life there is more secure and settled, but there is no peace for Iraqis while outside their country…
Her children, God bless them, are smart, both boys and girls. The son, who is Majid's age, is in third year medical collage. I asked him about his studies, he said that most times there is no regular school day, but students copy the lectures and study at home.
I remembered when we were in Iraq, at the time of the embargo in the nineties, then the war in 2003, how much the Iraqi children's eyes went sore while they studied by the light of a candle or a kerosene lantern? Years passed until small generators became available for us to start buying them to reduce the damage to our children's eyes.
And with all the difficulties, our children excelled, and went their way successfully.
One of Majid's friends' name is Omar (a Sunnie), and the other's name is Hayder (a Shia'at), they both study at medical collage. And now each of them carries two identity cards in his pocket; one a Sunnie and the other a Shia'at. While they go to collage, the mothers remain terrified all day long, waiting for their sons to return safely.
What kind of a life is this?
The eldest daughter of my friend achieved a high mark at the high school exams this year, God bless her, and she was admitted to the medical collage. I was so happy for her, and thought to myself: Are there intelligent and patient people like the Iraqis? In spite of all the ordeals they study, excel, and have smiling, laughing faces?
I respect the Iraqis, and I am proud of being one of them. I see them as strong, renitent people, in spite of catastrophes, people who are proud of themselves and their civilization, even though Bush disfigured their image in front of the world, making them look like barbarian tribes who fight among themselves.
The truth is- the role of the intellectuals, the nationalists, and the wise ones in Iraq was deliberately marginalized. The shiny, beautiful picture of the Iraqi people in the media was blotted… and the authority was put into the hands of leaderships that are foreign from the people, that used to live as opposition abroad; those who planned the war on Iraq with Bush, then we discovered that they are worst than Saddam Hussein, as they brought along their militias that kill and terrorize the Iraqis, they turned the land of Iraq into a blood-shedding field, and the occupier watches, and feels happy, because this is exactly what he wants to justify remaining in Iraq for indefinite years.
But I found that the Iraqis understand exactly what is happening. I found no sectarian hatred in their hearts against each other.
I found that Hayder and Omar are friends who loved each other since childhood days, and each fears for the other from being kidnapped by the criminal sectarian death gangs, of which the Iraqis are innocent- innocent from its presence, its notion, and from those who finance it…
I found that Hayder and Omar are a model of the Iraqi young people and their sufferings now…
We had lunch together; we talked for a long time and laughed a lot, even though I kept watching the restaurant's door from time to time, imagining an armed gang would burst in and shoot us all…
After lunch we had some Iraqi tea, which I haven't tasted for a long time.
At three o'clock my friend said she must leave because she has an afternoon duty at a hospital other than the one in which she works in the morning. I admired this brave spirit of hers, in spite of all conditions, for she works mornings and afternoons to help Iraqi women who suffer a lot of problems in pregnancy and childbirth because of the pollution caused by the war, and the terror of giving birth to a deformed baby, which is something that has become a truth looming in front of every Iraqi pregnant woman, for such cases became a frequent occurrence after the 2003 war.
I said good by with kisses, we all wished the fire of turmoil would die down, that we would go back to Iraq, and be together again.
My friend from Adamiyah called, said she was in Mansoor and wants to see me. I gave her the name of the restaurant, and she came. We drank tea together, I asked her about the conditions in Adamiyah, she said things were difficult and dangerous, and life moves just barely. I told her I know that completely, my heart goes with you, praying to God to save you, and these difficult days would be over…
She brought a box of sweets with her for me. I was amazed and asked - why? She said- but it is a small thing.
I said to myself: how sweet natured the Iraqis are? Even in times of stress they do not forget courtesy and warmhearted behaviors.
But later, all my friends who came to greet me, each brought a gift with her; a t-shirt, a bed shirt, or some sweets.
They surprised me, and filled my heart with happiness and certainty that these people could never be defeated, or give up their identity…
I said to myself: Iraq should be ruled by good people like his people, and not by a bunch of gangs who know no mercy…
I said goodbye to my friend from Adamiyah with kisses and good wishes, that the fire of distress would die down, that Iraq would settle down, and we should all be together once more.
Then we went to the house of a friend of mine in Al-Dawoodi.
The lady of the house is an old woman, a retired school headmistress, living with her are her sons, their wives and children. I love them very much; I see them as a model of the good Iraqi family. They presented to us tea and Kleecha (Iraqi pastries filled with dates). We talked a lot, we cried and laughed…time passed quickly, and suddenly they told me: Um Raid, you must leave now, darkness fell, and the streets are dangerous…
We kissed and said goodbye…
I went out quickly with my relative to drive me to my friend's house in Dragh District, Al-Mansoor. I didn't realize the seriousness of the situation until we reached the 14 of Ramadan Street a few minutes later, for I found the street dark and deserted; no cars, no shops, and no pedestrians. My heart shook with fear when I saw a checkpoint, is it real, or false?
What time is it?
I put my hand forward, and with difficulty saw it was 5.40 pm.
Oh, my God!
This street was always so full of movement and cars since it was, until a late hour at night, its lights bright, its restaurants open. How did it turn now into a street of terror and ghosts before 6 pm?
We passed quickly, going to my friend's house, for that was a true check point, thank God.
And before her house's entrance there was another checkpoint. They said: there is no entry. We said: we're sorry, we weren't aware we were late. The Iraqi soldier smiled, and said: all right, go on, quickly, and waved us in with his hand.
We entered the district quickly, and knocked on the door. The area was dark for there was no electricity. There was a generator working somewhere, illuminating some houses.
My friend said: Tomorrow there is a curfew, it is the trial of Saddam, and the situation is tense. Adamiyah was bombarded by mortar shells today, since 4 pm…
I was very annoyed. I called my friend in Adamiyah to check their safety, she said –yes, there is a bombardment, but it isn't near our street.
I breathed with relief, but I thought of the poor families on whose houses the shells fell.
My friend prepared dinner with her husband, I was annoyed by the news; tomorrow there is a curfew, the city is tense, the people are afraid, the country is broken and is living in a real ordeal, tomorrow is Saddam's trial, isn't what catastrophes we are going through enough? What is the meaning of timing this trial now while the country is going through a severe crisis; the government is weak, the security is deteriorating, the militias poisoned people's lives- raking havoc and no one stops them, neither the government nor the occupation forces. Everything is collapsed.
The last thing the Iraqis care about now is Saddam's fate, what is the difference if he dies or remains in prison? What would this influence or change from the bitter everyday reality? Will it stop the violence and bloodshed? Will it make the government stronger, and make it acceptable in the eyes of the Iraqis?
I don't know. We kept talking, wondering and grumbling about the absurdity of what's going on… we were all worried about what will happen tomorrow…
Maybe they will sentence him to death, and that will provoke new clashes among people, or between them and the government.
At that moment I felt how mean Bush is, and how cruel is his heart, feeling no mercy, does he want to gain victories for his Party in the Congress elections, at the expense of the miserable Iraqis' souls?
God knows what will happen…
I slept with my heart clenched, afraid of what tomorrow might bring…..

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