Saturday, September 04, 2004

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004
Good evening….
The weather in Baghdad has improved a little…in the early morning there are some nice breezes, but at noon and after, the weather is still hot…so, here is the end of August, and no door of winter was opened, as the old proverb says….perhaps in September the weather will be better….now, small flowers started blooming in the garden, and that is a new sign that the heat started breaking its intensity…
I would like to talk a little about some daily happenings in my life these days…
In the morning the driver comes for me, rings the bell, I hurry out, carrying my purse, and a lot of papers concerning the business, the society, and other matters…
I close the front door behind me, I look suspiciously at the street and the passing cars, and I tell myself everyday that a car will stop, its windows will open, and machine guns will appear out of them, and shoot at me….
This thought always comes to my mind, and after the incident of my car, it became more intense. It haunts me in the morning, and when I get home at noon. I started to convince myself day and night that death walks with us, so, whenever it comes, welcome, we shall not stop working as long as there is life in our veins. There is a proverb of the Prophet (Prayers and Peace be upon Him), saying, in meaning: If the Day of Judgment comes upon you, and you were carrying a palm plant you intended to plant, go on, plant it and do not hesitate.
Well, the work day is usually busy, talking to customers about Filters and Water Treatment Systems, in villages, towns, privet and sate-owned factories, and houses. Some times the talk is about Politics, our daily sufferings, war, the occupation, the Interim Iraqi government, and the ambiguous future of Iraq… I open the Internet Line, read my new messages, and answer most of them, while I finish checking the books, sales records and accounts…
And in business, there are some over settings, sometimes…
What provokes me most is a state official who buys equipments for his office, and asks for an increase over the bill value.
I say to him: in the days of Saddam the salary was law, and there was a reason for these acts, so, what is the reason now??
He laughs foolishly and says: Lady, the salary isn't enough yet, and there are still many people in the office who want their share…the head of the department, the accountant, the purchasing official….
I put my hand on my check and sigh, saying in my heart: The Ill-begotten money is like sea water…too salty to quench the thirst, and these will keep steeling, and never feel satisfied.
Today, a purchasing official in some state office came to me; I have already given a price list to a colleague of his in the morning, for an offer to buy a softener device, for reducing water hardness… He said he wanted to buy the device now, pay me in cash, without a bill, then he would sell it to his office by another price…
I stared at him, and all the sparks of anger flew from my eyes…
I said: This is not permitted…these are disgraceful acts, I do not make a deal with some people, then strike them in the back…
He said: What does it matter to you? I'll give you a clear sum of money, you'll pay no taxes…
I said: Thank you, and do not spare me the taxes, I do not care about it, but I do not like foul play, so, find someone else… I went back to my computer screen….
But he started insisting….Why are you so cross??? He said.
I looked at him and said, trying to be calm: My dear, I am not cross, but this is the way I understand things. This is my shop, I am free, and I behave in my own convictions. No one can force me to think his way, O.K???
He babbled a lot, he begged… but I preferred to act cool, and not answer. I busied myself with the Internet…so he left the shop.
I clapped my hands together…and said: Pity for the days of Saddam Hussein, when they were taking bribes, but in fear of being exposed…Today, there are limitless thefts, bribes, and official corruption….Who would ask, or know….each sings his own song….
What is the difference between these people, and those who robbed my car? All of them are regarding what is wrong as right, without care…all of them are the sickly product of a sickly time.
I remembered yesterday as I went back home from work, as we stopped to buy some groceries, the driver came to me and said: Can you imagine that, this taxi driver had a quarrel with that woman over there, she was wearing an Abba, and a veil over her face. He pulled the veil, and she turned out to be a man with a moustache, who wanted to rob him of his car.
I was amazed, and asked him: Where is she? He said: come, I'll show her to you…
We drove back to the main street, and there was this woman wearing an Abba, a veil over her face, showing the eyes only, and with her there was a 14 years old boy. She stopped a taxi, got in the back, and the boy sat beside the driver. I told my driver to move slowly until we are adjacent to the taxi, for I wanted to speak to the taxi driver in English, maybe he would understand, and get them out of his car. But my clumsy driver drove to the other side of the taxi, then shouted like a fool: Watch out, these are robbers, then drove on.
I was angry because of his foolishness, for foolishness is a gift sometimes, as they say. I told him to stop, the man did not understand you, he kept looking right and left for the robbers in the street, not knowing they were with him in the car, stop here and let talk calmly to him….
He said: UM Raid(oh, mother of Raid), be careful, they might be armed. This man dressed as a woman is surly carrying a gun…
I felt helpless, exactly as I felt in front of the thieves who robbed me of my car. And this fool with me ruined my whole idea, as we cannot move ahead now and talk, for the gang was in the car now, undoubtedly armed…. I kept following the car with my sight, as it went into a side street…my heart squeezed in sorrow for its owner, and his unknown fate. I kept thinking about what happened to him all day long, and at night, praying to GOD to be on his side, for this car is the livelihood of him and his family….
There was an Iraqi Army Search Point, somewhere in the distance, an American convoy heavily armed with automatic weapons, moving along the Airport Road….and the burning noon sun…
I rested my back to the car seat, sighed sadly again, and smiled bitterly. I went back home with a sour temperament….
Two women came to the shop today, they were wearing Abbas. One of them sat on the chair in front of me to rest, while the other stood to ask about House Filters and their prices… I threw the pen out of my hand, stopped working, and kept staring at the seated woman…
I thought, maybe she will draw a gun from under her Abba and point it at my face, what shall I do??
I called one of the engineers to stand in front of me, beside her…I remained nervous, until they bought the filters, and left the shop….
I think life here will give me some hard psychological diseases, ha, ha, ha.
Yesterday, one of the employees in the shop said, Good Morning, Yesterday my wife was beaten, and her purse was stolen…
I smiled, as I was receiving the morning's new disaster….a new disaster each morning, which is how to deal with matters, in a sporty spirit. So he said she was going to her school, for she works as a teacher, with her little daughter, and while going back home in a Mini-bus, with some other passengers, the bus stopped in Al-Gazzalia Street, two or three passengers took out some knives, asking the others to hand over their money and hand bags, then they beat them, and threw then in the street….
I do not know what to say…whether to laugh or cry??
And always the comment is: This is the Great Iraq….we have seen plenty of things in Saddam's time, and today we see more wonders….
I called the poor woman and said: Thank GOD you are safe, then laughed and said: Do not care, we are all drinking from this glass…. This is how you prove you are an Iraqi, you get burned by fire….and be patient…
We have no other choice……
I went to a Charity society a few days ago, and I saw a young woman with a familiar face, who wanted to join the society…
I smiled and asked her: Where have I seen you before?
She said: I do not remember, but your face is familiar….
I said: My name is such, my job is such, and my work address is such….
She said: Oh…yes, I remember, I came to you with a French Organization, and we bought some equipments…
I clapped my fingers in the air, saying: yes, I remember you. You are a Doctor? She moved her head positively.
I sat with the ladies to discuss some issues. Then they suggested discussing the young Doctor's request to join the society.
She said she has worked with Non-Governmental Foreign Organizations, and now wants to work with a Non-Governmental Iraqi Organization.
They read the application, and found out her father was a Minister some time, and her mother is a well-known social and humanitarian activist, so they all said, Of course we agree for her to join us…
I lowered my head, and smiled….
I know another face of this woman; she came to the shop with some French people asking about equipments, then came back with a colleague without the French Organization members, and stood aside with Azzam, arguing with him how to gain a $10 commission….
I looked at her today, and smiled….the Minister's daughter wants a $10 commission, what do I tell a poor people's son when he asks for a commission???
And how do people choose clean symbols for leading posts???
Of course I would have been happy by her joining my society, if she asks that, and I found her to be the daughter of that man, and that woman…but today I look to the matter with a different eye… she has taken bribes, how could I trust her???
Iraq today lives its worst conditions, who will reform this distressful reality… the Public Sector and Public wealth are being stolen and robbed very easily, and in public….who will be the judge??
Who will fix matters, who will elect honest, impartial leaderships, to lead the future of Iraq… Thieves are increasing daily, in numbers and experience, how many years shall we need to control them, and eradicate them??
And some small projects are being constructed for Iraqis, and huge expenses are being spent, most of them are bribes and thefts…
This is a continual depletion…who shall stop it??
The country is in an eddy, and the existence of foreign forces adds to the complications of the situation….
An honest, strong, nationalist Government, that's what is needed…to solve all problems…
But what is happening now, is that the Government is in a confused situation, complying to the biddings of the occupation forces, to eliminate the opposition, and open-up fighting fronts against Iraqis, instead of opening dialogue doors, doors of compassion, gathering the shreds of the torn people.
This is the disaster of foreign forces existence in any country….forces that posses a political and military agenda which they want to carry-out at any price, and let the country and its people go to hell….
This equation will have some other elements, in and out of it, if there was a national Rule, then, the equation and its elements would be totally different… There would be priorities to reconstruct the country, keep security, and control the gangs and stealing of public monies…
The American elections are getting near… We no longer care who shall win, what we care about is that the American people should pressure its coming government to be more truthful and serious in accomplishing peace and security for Iraqis, to reconstruct Iraq, and to open the horizons of a shiny future… all that they have failed to accomplish till now…
What have they succeeded in doing???
They succeeded in opening new warring fields in Iraq, succeeded in admitting foreigners and terrorists into Iraq, and destroyed what was left of good in this country, and these people.
Some small, humble, good accomplishments took place ( restoration of schools and Medical centers, and some water and sewage stations, for example…), but they are not in proportion with the endless tide of daily disasters…
I want to get back and think about this war since the beginning, and who wanted it to happen… the American Government has special interests, some of which are exposed, the others are subject to possibilities…so they put their hands into those of the Iraqi Opposition, or the part of it that permitted itself to enter Iraq on an American tank. I know of some Iraqi opposition who refuse, till now, to put their hands into the hands of the occupation Army, saying their existence here is illegal….but those are broken, so lights aren't directed on them…
All right, so these parties whose interests are coincided with the American interests, are laboring after Authority, Seats, and Posts. They have spoken in the name of the poor Iraqi people, whom everyone speaks in his name, while he is the last to know…. These parties and people received Authority here, and fought upon it, and Ahmed Al-Chalabi is one sample of them…
These samples think of their advantages and privileges, while the advantage of the Iraqi people is in the heels of their shoes…. Exactly as I used to say: The Interest of the Iraqi people is written on the bottom of Saddam Hussein's shoe heel….and those who came after him were no more merciful to Iraqis than him… each is panting after his interests, and let the people fall in hell…
This war has been waged in the name of the people, the occupation forces are present in the name of the people, the fighting in Fallujah and Najaf is in the name of the people, and the National Conference that has been elected there, far away in the Conferences Palace, also speaks by the name of the people….
And all this is taking place by the blessing of America…..
What can we say??
All that happened to us is by America's knowledge, America's partaking, and America's consent….
So, is America foolish??? Or vicious??
Did they posses any good intentions that they couldn't fulfill???
I wish I could be naive enough to believe the subject had some good intentions, and a complicated reality that stood against fulfilling them???
The question is: Who rendered the Reality into what it is now, and thus pushed it out of control??
The parable says: The road to hell is full of good intentions.
And we say: War in Iraq is like the road to hell…filled with good intentions.
But what have we reaped???
Today I read in a newspaper that the Conference of the Republican Party is in session in America… and there was a photo of an Iraqi woman speaking in the conference, saying: the United States presented Liberty and Democracy to the Iraqis…
And this is exactly what Bush and his administration wants, Witnesses from Iraq, to verify the success of his campaign in Iraq…
But that woman was in an opposition Party against Saddam, and now she is an official in the American Islamic Council, so the reason looks obvious, why did she come to thank Bush, did she come by the name of the miserable Iraqis here? Those who are dying of fear, distress, and sadness for what destruction has done to their lives?
But the question is: How much percentage among Iraqis does the opinion of this woman represent?
Those in the Parties who have their own viewpoints, are they some 5% of the people, or maybe 10%? Does the opinion of those really represent the Majority of people? Would the American people understand such tricks?
I smiled as I imagined a conference held by Saddam's supporters somewhere, they would bring tens and hundreds of people to testify that Saddam Hussein was a brilliant leader, a democrat, and…., and….
Politics is a game far removed from truth and reality….a game that uses all means to convince people with a certain viewpoint… which wouldn't be correct most of times.
A happy person is that who can get away from the continuous brainwash, going on day and night through different Media means.
I can perfectly understand the attitude of the American Government…. They have waged war on Iraq, they have vouched to rebuild Iraq in a new style… so, it is to their advantage, and to keep face, they would say everything is all right in Iraq…and moving according to schedule. Because admitting defeat would destroy the government's future, and that of the Ruling Party…
Well, all we care about as Iraqis is for the coming administration to be more honest and transparent in dealing with the Iraqi file…we want no excuses for the catastrophes that happened, but we want a successful and tangible work plan, that would rebuild our life again…this is better than apologies.
If I have done some wrong to a person, or a group, the best thing would be to help them get over their pains, which I was partly responsible for. That is how I understand things, according to my view and experience in life. To help those whom I have, intentionally or non-intentionally, shared in destroying their lives. To lead them to a better future…to help them build their new life…
This is what Iraqis want from America and its new government….good deeds on the ground of reality…deeds that would make Iraqis happy, and prove the honesty and seriousness of America towards us….
I do not wish for four new coming years of pain, unsuccessful experiments, unclear visions, and going astray…..
The American people will be the one to help us, they will be in test, and not only the government's credibility…. The whole nation there is subjected to the test…. A test of truthfulness in keeping promises, a test of the humanitarian vision towards other nations….
The test of Civilization, and the ability of Cultural Communication with others….without violence, without boasting or bragging, nor lying to oneself.
I hope America will succeed in the test here, for it will give her a good, clean reputation, and will give us a lot of hope in the presence of an honest, understanding partner, who intends to help us..........
Days will be between us........
I received an E-Mail from an American reader, who says she is against war on Iraq, but her mother, who represents the old generation, approves of the war, and what happened during and after it… She sent me a web site address containing a letter from an American father to his four sons, justifying the war, and stressing the need to stand by Bush and his Administration to finish the campaign….that father says that war against America is as old as 1979, meaning since the kidnapping of the American Diplomats in Iran… the operations against the Marines and the Embassy in Beirut, the Embassy in Nyrooby, and other terrorist operations.
The letter is full of malice against Islam and Iraqis, illustrating them as monsters who hate America and envy her….
The letter was disgraceful, representing a short-sighted, limited, and malicious viewpoint…. I was astonished by that logic, wondering to myself, do they hate and despise us like this, then claim they waged the war because they love and pity us….
I can't understand whether they came here to help us, or to have their revenge upon us???....
I only want to understand the true face of America…is she with us, or against us… I want frankness…nothing but frankness, for that is the first key to know the other, and his true intentions.
The military operations of the war ended in a short time….
But that who deserves respect and clapping, is the one who can make peace and stability, reducing the disasters of the after-war period, disasters like gangs, thieves, robberies, and official corruption…
This is the true test of the American ability here….
If she succeeds, she deserves to be the Paramount Nation who deserves respect… And if she doesn't….then she is the nation who deserves pity….more than Iraqis. For her bereavement is a lot bigger than theirs.
Translated by May \ Baghdad.

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