Friday, March 05, 2004


February 28, 2004

It is now approximately 7 in the evening. I turned off the generator and the national electricity
returned. Tranquility enveloped the house and street- how lovely the calm is! The weather in the
garden is very nice- there's no cold, the stars are shining and the moon is a beautiful crescent
that says that the Arabic month is at its start.


In the morning I had a headache… I took some pills but it has remained with me all day. I don't
know- maybe it's exhaustion and too little sleep. When I went to the shop, I had intended to hurry
home, have lunch, take more headache pills and then sleep. The work day was ordinary- full of
talk, debates and laughter. Debates on the science of water, and politics… Iraqis can't live without
debating politics and the latest news.

I surfed the internet and checked my emails. There were emails I read that made me smile… and one
email whose writer asked I teach him Arabic words for greeting and welcoming. He wasn't the first
to ask for this help. There was a previous letter from Portugal whose sender asked for the address
of a site that taught Arabic. Another person from Australia said that he wanted to learn Arabic so
that he could read the blogs before they were translated. All those letters made me happy and gave
me the impression that people like our language and are eager to learn something of it… even if
only simple words like: marhaba, shukran and ma'a il salama…

This creates affection between people and supports the theory that the world has become a small
village. I'm thinking about linking a site that will teach a few, limited words for people as an
introduction to learning for any of the readers who want to learn another language.


I left the shop and went to the butcher to buy some chopped and minced meat. This is usually
Azzam's job but since he's traveling- I have to do it. The man said, "Please have a seat- you'll have
to wait a quarter of an hour while I finish up my work…" I had no choice but to sit and wait
because the freezer was empty and I needed to buy something. As the man started working, I looked out
into the street with boredom.

A group of children entered the shop accompanied by an old lady in an abbaya [black cloak-like
garb]. She said to the small girl, "Come in, dear, this is the 'shams il baqila' [horse bean sun]-
don't sit too long in it, you'll catch typhoid." An identical phrase jumped to my memory- my mother
(God have mercy upon her soul) used to say the same thing to me when I was a little girl, sitting
on the roof sunning myself and reading. 'Shams il baqila' [horse bean sun]… as I grew older, I
understood. This is a particularly hot sun that speeds the growth of horse beans in the winter (even
though the beans love the heat)… and they are available for most of the summer. In the winter
though, they are available only for a short period and are often expensive… then they disappear to
return in the summer.

I smiled and looked at the little ones- three girls and a boy. They approached the butcher and the
little one yanked him from his pants and shouted, "Give me some money- I want chocolate!" He
laughed and opened the drawer, handing out paper money. I imagined parents on Eid Day, handing out
'Eidiyat' [gifts of money] to the little children with their voices raised in shouts and mirth. The
kids ran out of the store to the neighboring shop.


I finished purchasing the meat, fruit and cheeses from different stores on the same sidewalk.
Before I entered the car, I glanced at the watch and noted that it was 2 in the afternoon. I felt
annoyed because I was very late for lunch. The smell of kabab filled the car and increased the feeling
of hunger. It had been the butcher's suggestion- "Allow me to cook a kilo of minced meat for you
at the neighboring restaurant…" What a suggestion it had been… I was regretting it that moment.

I noticed an Iraqi police car standing at the beginning of the street I'm accustomed to taking
home every day, so I took another direction. Everything looked normal until I got to a certain point
on the road leading to the airport where there was a sizeable crowd that spread well into the
horizon… Ohhhhhhh… you'll die of hunger and waiting… I said to myself. I began slowing the car. There
were dozens of small cars and trucks with their annoying horns… and large buses… and the smell of
smoke. I recalled my suffering as I used to drop the kids off to school through daily traffic
jams, and I remembered the grandmother and the children at the butcher's and the talk about the horse
bean sun. What luck! I said to myself… a traffic jam and horse bean sun on the same day…

I looked at the car windows of the small cars around me and the passengers. They were spending the
time by talking and I felt lonely and bored. I looked at the watch- it was almost three… I should
have been home over half an hour ago but I was still at the beginning of the way home! I took out
the mobile phone and called the kids. "Where are you mom?" I heard them yelling. "I'm stuck on
the airport road… there's a traffic jam… some sort of a problem. Don't worry about me."

The cars were moving very slowly. I wished there was someone around to explain the reason for
this. Helicopters came and hovered low… then went far away… as if there was some battle field nearby.
I turned and opened the bags. I made myself a small kabab sandwich, opened a can of soda and
smiled. I decided I would ignore everything that was happening and enjoy my time. I turned on the radio
to a station playing songs and retreated from the happenings in the street.

A truck full of American soldiers passed on my left and in front of it and behind it, small
humvees. I watched them from behind the glass, in a state of indifference brought on by exhaustion. I
didn't care. I was trying to pass the time and stared at the details of the truck. On normal days,
they would pass quickly and, terrified, I wouldn't turn to look at them. Today, they were stuck in
the crowd… and it was a chance.

There was something strange in the middle of the truck. The soldiers were sitting to the left and
to the right with their guns aimed and there was something in the middle I couldn't identify at
first. It moved and I thought it was some sort of an animal. I couldn't believe it… an animal? What
would the troops be doing with a strange animal? I continued driving my car slowly with my gaze
stuck on the truck. In a moment, I realized that the strange creature was actually a human. A human
sitting on their knees with their hands tied behind their back and a rough sack on their head with
little points that looked like horns!

I couldn't swallow a bite anymore… I laughed and laughed a black laugh… does laughter have a
color? I knew that moment that laughter does have a color… and this laugh had to be black to match the
moment and I asked myself what that poor person did- throw a bomb at them or simply get in their

The scene deserved a picture with the caption, "No Comment" underneath it. Simply stare and think
of the possibilities… if he pointed something at them, he'll disappear for months and months in
their detainee camps for questioning. If he did something against Iraqi civilians, he'll be out
after a short period of time… and to hell with the Iraqi civilians. I tried to imagine if I had been
out of work, or the ministry I work in had been dismantled, and I had no money, no future and no
chance to work- what would I do???

The idiotic policies are creating an air of animosity against the American presence… and the
people can't be blamed. The sight of that man with a bag on his head… if it had been Iraqi police
surrounding him, I would have felt sympathetic with their situation. But the American troops
surrounding an Iraqi civilian… it's a provocative sight and one word jumps to mind: occupation… and you feel
anger and insult.

The crowd lessened for a moment and the American car sped off in the direction of the airport and
we all went off in another direction as the Iraqi guards shouted, "Take any other direction except
the airport- they'll shoot at you!" I don't know. There was also an attack against them near the
airport… a never-ending tornado. I looked at the gas gauge- there was still enough, I didn't need
to worry about gas.

I started on another long way… the trip home. I got home at around 4 p.m. I was supposed to be
there at 2:15. Thank God, I said to myself, I didn't get a stray bullet… learn to look at the bright
side of things, I said to myself as I knocked the door and heard the sound of the kids welcoming
me home…

[ Translated by Riverbend ]

hi all,
many people asked about Salam and his mom
I visited them yesterday. they are fine.... and happy.
so don't worry about them.

hi all,
I've received lots of emails askign about Salam and his mom..
both of them are fine, I visited them yesterday :-).
so, don't worry about them, ok?
yalla, bye.

الأحد 29/2
الساعة الآن الثامنة مساء... المولدة تدور في الخارج...
وعندي صداع ونعاس ...لكني لا أقدر أن أذهب للنوم.
ثمة أمور تزعجني ...وتجعلني متوترة ,...
كان يومي مزدحما بالعمل والكلام الكثير...منظمات أجنبية جاءت تطلب أجهزة فحص مختبرية...وتجمعوا اليوم كلهم
وكأن ثمة شخص ذكرهم بي فجأة...
كنت أفتح الأجهزة لكل واحد وأشرح كيفية الإستعمال...ثم الأسعار ثم أعمل وصولات للذي يشتري, وأعود فأستقبل وفدا آخر. أبتسم وأشرح وأطلب لهم الشاي.....معظمهم يحبون الشاي العراقي .
منظمة إيطالية , ثم فرنسية , ثم ألمانية...كل مشاريعهم للأهالي ...وأنا أحترمهم جدا ,لإنهم يخاطرون بحياتهم من أجل عملهم الإنساني...وأظل سعيدة لأيام طويلة لأنهم يذكروني إن الخير لم ينقطع من البشر...فما زال من يؤمن ويعمل لصالح الناس....الناس الغرباء الذين لا علاقة بهم أبدا سوى الشعور بأنهم إخوتهم في الإنسانية....
وعندما كنت أعمل الفاتورة تفاجأت إن اليوم هو 29/2 وليس 1/3 , حيث دفعت رواتب الموظفين أمس , وجلست في الصباح أعد الفلوس في الصندوق من أجل الجرد الشهري . وعندي شعور بالذنب أنني لم أجرد المبيعات للشهر ...
وأستدرت وسألت الموظفين , لماذا لم تقولوا هذه سنة كبيسة ؟
ابتسموا وقالوا ...لم نكن نعلم ...نحن مثلك ظننا الشهر انتهى أمس...
صار عندي شعور بالفرح...ثمة يوم إضافي لم أحسب حسابه...
تفقدت بسرعة بريدي الإلكتروني...وطبعت عددا من الرسائل أثناء انشغالي بالكلام ...
ولم أقدر أن أقرأ أيا منها....أحسست أنه نهار ممل ...ولن يكون فيه لحظات صغيرة أخلو لنفسي..
رن الهاتف...وكان صوت إحدى القريبات...مشغولة ؟ سألتني....نعم , أجبتها...سأتصل لاحقا...قالت وأغلقت الخط.
انتابني شعور غامض أن ثمة مصيبة حدثت....
بقيت مشغولة مع الزبائن ...ثم رن الموبايل...نظرت ..مكالمة من الأردن...إنه عزام ...سألته بقلق عن أخباره وأخبار أهله وعن رائد ...فقال بهدوء , كل شيء تمام ...قلت في نفسي إذن ثمة مصيبة حصلت هنا للأقارب في بغداد ...
بدأ القلق يسري في دمي....
كان ثمة زبائن جالسين حين رن الهاتف ثانية ...هي ثانية...قلت لها صوتك لا يعجبني ...توجد مشكله؟ تكلمي...
قالت ...مصيبة, وارتعش صوتها...وارتعش قلبي !
إبني...خطفوه هذا الصباح. وهو في طريقه الى الجامعة, أنزلوه من السيارة وأخذوه..واتصل من موبايله , وقال لأبيه أنا في صندوق السيارة...جماعة خطفوني...
وها نحن مجتمعون في البيت....هل ستأتين ؟
وضعت يدي على خدي ...وأطرقت ...ستبدأ رحلة العذاب والمفاوضات...كم ستدفعون ؟؟؟متى سنراه؟...
كل يوم نسمع هذه القصص وأتوقعها ستحدث لي أو لأولادي...لا أحد يملك الحماية .
نخرج من بيوتنا بالرعب والقلق , ونعود معهما...
لا أدري كيف انقضى وقت الدولم...لم أكن بمزاجي ومرحي العادي..اعتذرت من الزبائن, بأنني متعبة, فلا يطيلوا الأحاديث والأسئلة. وكانوا جدا متفهمين للظرف...وخففوا عني .
نهاية الدوام أحسست ألما في معدتي ولا رغبة عندي حتى بشرب الماء.
أقاربنا هؤلاء. يملكون محلا تجاريا..وعندهم سيارات حديثة ...هذه نقطتا جذب للصوص..خصوصا إنهم يسكنون بمنطقة ليست غنية ..إذن وضعهم يلفت النظر..
إتصلت بالأولاد وقلت لهم سأتأخر...وذهبت فورا الى بيت الأقارب...أغلقت أبواب السيارة من الداخل ,وكنت متوترة طوال الطريق, أتخيل ثمة عصابة ستوقفني وتخطفني...أنا أيضا صيد ثمين...بالنسبة للصوص. فكرت مع نفسي وزاد رعبي ....
وصلت الى الساحة الخارجية لعمارتهم ..وأوقفت سيارتي..ونزلت بهدوء...
طرقت الباب...ففتحه أحد الضيوف...البيت فيه سكون غريب...يمتليء بالناس والسكون !
دخلت الغرفة الأولى فوجدت الأب وحوله أخوته وجيرانه من الرجال..
قلت السلام عليكم...ان شاء الله بردا وسلاما ...ان شاء الله يعود بالسلامة...
لا أدري ماذا يقول الناس في هكذا مواقف ؟
قال الأب شكرا ...إذهبي الى الداخل ..النساء هناك, ثم أشار بيده نحو اليمين...
توجهت الى الغرفة الأخرى حيث تجلس أمه مع جاراتها وقريباتها... كانت شاحبة الوجه, وعينيها منتفختان...ضممتها الى صدري وقلت لها إصبري وصلي الى الله عساه يعود بالسلامة...
وجلست أستمع وهي تروي القصة...
قلت له في الصباح لا تأخذ السيارة , أحتاجها اليوم ,,لكنه عاند...
خرج الى الكلية...وأبوه ذهب قبله الى العمل, لكنه عاد مبكرا ..وقال إن ابننا اتصل وقال أن جماعة مجهولة قد خطفته , وهو في صندوق السيارة..ويأخذونه الى مكان مجهول...وإنه ترك السيارة قريبة من البيت , فليذهبوا ويأخذوها...طبعا كانت السيارة من الموديل القديم...وهذا ربما جعلهم يغضون الطرف عنها..ولو كانت واحدة من الحديثات ...لكان خطفوها معه.
والآن نجلس وننتظر أن يتصلوا ...ونسمع شروطهم...
غرقت في أفكاري...لا توجد أي طريقة نموذجية لمنع حدوث هذه الأشياء...
لو خرج الولد لوحده بسيارته سيخطفوه, لو خرج مع سائق قريب أو غريب فلن يقدر أن يمنع حدوث الإختطاف...سمعنا عن حوادث كثيرة..كل قصة لها تفاصيل مختلفة..تجعلك تصل لقناعة, أنه لا توجد طريقة نموذجية , حيث تم إختطاف ناس من بين مرافقيهم الشخصيين...فلا تقل لي إنها مسألة قلة حرص أو إنتباه...
أنا صرت أقتنع إنها مسألة إرادة الله...يفعل ما يشاء...
تذكرت قصة قصيرة كتبها تولستوي, عن رجل نائم في الغابة...جاءت نحلة تحوم لتقرصه ...حامت وحامت وكأن ثمة ملاك طردها..فمضت , ثم جاء دب ..أو ما شابه لا أتذكر بالضبط ..لكنه مضى ولم يقدر أن يؤذيه ثم جاء لصوص..وأرادوا سرقة محفظته...وبطريقة ما هربوا ولم يقدروا....وحدثت عدة مصائب ....لكن ولا واحدة مسته بسوء...ثم استيقظ...وابتسم ...وتثاءب ,,وقال ..آه , ما أجمل هذا المكان وما أكثر الأمان فيه!!!
طبعا...هو لم يعلم أن ثمة ملاك حارس يبتسم ويقف الى جانبه...
وهذا الملاك هو الذي ما زلت أؤمن بوجوده.. ... وإلا ما بقيت هنا ...ولا احتملت صعوبة الحياة اليومية..
عدت الى البيت قبل حلول الظلام...
عدت واتصلت في وقت متأخر...كان ثمة إتصال مع الخاطفين ووسيط تكلم معهم ...وقالوا غدا صباحا نبلغكم الجواب...
كيف سيمر الليل على أمه وابيه وأخوته؟؟؟
بقيت أفكر طوال اليل..
وأنتظر الغد...

السبت 28/2
الساعة الآن حوالي السابعة مساء, أطفأت المولدة , وجاءت الكهرباء الوطنية , وساد الهدوء في البيت والشارع....
ما أجمل الهدوء !
الجو في الحديقة جميل جدا , لا توجد برودة, والسماء صافية جدا , وثمة نجوم تتلألأ , والقمر قوس جميل , يقول إن الشهرالعربي في بدايته....
في الصباح كان عندي صداع , أخذت حبوبا , لكنه ظل يلازمني طوال النهار...لا أدري ربما إرهاق وقلة نوم ,
وعندما خرجت من المحل, كنت أنوي العودة السريعة للبيت , حتى أتغدى , وأتناول حبوب صداع أخرى, ثم أنام...
كان يوم العمل عاديا , فيه كلام , ونقاشات وضحك , نقاشات في علم المياه , والسياسة, لا يقدر العراقيون أن يعيشوا دون الكلام في السياسة, وآخر الأخبار...
تصفحت الإنترنت , وبريدي الإلكتروني , وثمة رسائل قرأتها وابتسمت , وواحدة يطلب صاحبها أن أكتب له عن
كلمات عربية مناسبة للسلام والترحيب , ليتعلمها...
ولم يكن هذا أول من يطلب هذه المساعدة, كانت رسالة سابقة من البرتغال, طلب صاحبها عنوانا لموقع لتعليم العربية,
وآخر من أستراليا , قال إنه يريد تعلم العربية حتى يقرأ المقالات قبل ترجمتها...
وطبعا كل تلك الرسائل تسعدني وتعطيني إنطباعا إن الناس يحبون لغتنا وعندهم فضول لتعلم شيء منها , ولو كلمات مثل : مرحبا , شكرا ’ مع السلامة,....
فهذه تعمل مودة وتقارب بين الناس...وتثبت فكرة ان العالم أصبح قرية صغيرة .
وأفكر أن أضع على طرف موقعنا , ربط مع قاموس كلمات عربية محددة, وقليلة , تكون مدخلا للتعلم , لمن يحب , من قراء اللغات الأخرى...
خرجت من المحل , وذهبت عند القصاب لشراء اللحم المقطع والمفروم, هذه من مهمات عزام في العادة , لكنه مسافر , وأنا مضطرة لأنجازها , قال الرجل تفضلي واجلسي , ستنتظرين حوالي ربع ساعة, حتى أنجز العمل...
لم يكن أمامي سوى الجلوس والإنتظار, حيث المجمدة فارغة, ولابد من شراء وجبة جديدة .
بدأ الرجل بالعمل, وبدأت أنظر الى الشارع بملل,,,دخل مجموعة أطفال ومعهم سيدة كبيرة في السن ترتدي عباءة ,
وقالت لإحدى الصغار , تعالي إدخلي بيبي, هذه شمس الباقلاء, لا تجلسي طويلا فيها , يصير عندك تيفوئيد...
قفزت لذاكرتي نفس الجملة كانت تقولها لي أمي رحمها الله وأنا طفلة صغيرة أجلس على السطح أتشمس وأقرأ....
شمس الباقلاء,,,عندما كبرت فهمت, إنها هذه الشمس الحارة التي تسرع بنزول محصول الباقلاء في الشتاء مع إنه
محصول يحب الحر, ويظل موجودا معظم شهور الصيف...لكنه في الشتاء ينزل لفترة قصيرة ويكون سعره غاليا ثم يختفي, ليعود في الصيف ...
وابتسمت , ونظرت للصغار,ثلاث بنات وولد , واقتربوا منه , والصغيرة شدته من بنطلونه , وصاحت ,إعطيني فلوس أريد شكولاته, ضحك , وفتح أحد الأدراج ووقف يوزع عليهم النقود الورقية, تخيلت منظر الآباء يوم العيد وهم يوزعون العيديات على الصغار....فيعلو صراخهم ومرحهم ....
خرج الصغار يتراكضون الى الدكان المجاور...
أنهيت شراء اللحم والفواكه والأجبان من عدة محلات على نفس الرصيف...
وقبل دخولي السيارة نظرت للساعة فوجدتها الثانية ظهرا...وأحسست بالإنزعاج حيث تأخرت جدا عن موعد الغداء...
رائحة الكباب تملأ جو السيارة...وتزيد من جوعي...هذا كان إقتراح القصاب ...دعيني أشوي لك كيلو من اللحم المفروم عند المطعم المجاور...ياله من إقتراح ...ندمت عليه الآن .
لاحظت وقوف سيارة شرطة عراقية عند مدخل الشارع الذي أسلكه في طريق العودة اليومي...
فاتجهت نحو طريق آخر...كان كل شيء يبدو عاديا...والطريق سالكة ...حتى وصلت نقطة ما..في طريق المطار ,
وانتبهت أن ثمة إزدحام محترم بدأ يلوح في الأفق...أأأووووو.....ستموتين من الجوع والإنتظار , قلت لنفسي, وبدأت أخفف السرعة ....
كان عشرات من السيارات الصغيرة والشاحنات بأبواقها الهوائية المزعجة ...والباصات الكبيرة ..وروائح الدخان ...
وتذكرت معاناتي حين كنت أوصل الأولاد للمدارس خلال إزدحامات يومية....و أعود للبيت كل يوم بصداع يلازمني معظم النهار ...وأقول هذه آثار وجبة التسمم الصباحي من غازات الكاربون......
أغلقت شبابيك السيارة...وأحسست بالحر...الشمس شديدة اليوم , وتذكرت الجدة والأطفال عند القصاب والحديث عن شمس الباقلاء...ياله من حظ !...قلت لنفسي ..جاء الإزدحام وشمس الباقلاء في نفس اليوم ؟
نظرت من شبابيك السيارة حولي الى السيارات الصغيرة وركابها...وجدتهم يمضون الوقت في الكلام ..وأحسست بالوحدة والملل...نظرت للساعة...تقترب من الثالثة...كان يجب أن أصل البيت منذ أكثر من نصف ساعة...لكني مازلت في بداية الطريق !
سحبت الموبايل واتصلت بالأولاد ...أين أنت ياماما ؟...سمعت الصراخ ...عالقة في طريق المطار...إزدحام شديد ..ثمة مشكلة..لا تقلقواعلي...
السير بطيء ...وددت أن أجد أحدا يشرح ما سبب هذا...
جاءت طائرات هليكوبتر وحلقت بمستوى منخفض... ثم ذهبت بعيدا ...كأن هنالك ساحة قتال قريبة...
استدرت وفتحت الأكياس ..وعملت سندويشة صغيرة من الكباب , وفتحت علبة مشروبات غازية....وابتسمت.
قررت أن أتجاوز كل ما يحدث وأستمتع بوقتي....وفتحت الراديو على محطة منوعات ..وابتعدت نهائيا عن جو الشارع...
مرت على يساري شاحنة أمريكية فيها جنود ...وأمامها سيارة همر صغيرة وكذلك خلفها...تأملتهم من خلف الزجاج
وأنا في حالة اللامبالاة التي أصابتني من التعب..ولم أكترث..كنت أحاول تمضية الوقت وأحدق بتفاصيل الشاحنة,
في الأيام العادية يمرون مسرعين وأنا مرعوبة فلا أعطيهم إلتفاتة...أما الآن فهم عالقون في الزحام...وهذه فرصة.
ثمة شيء غريب في منتصف الشاحنة...الجنود يجلسون على اليمين واليسار..يشهرون بنادقهم...وثمة شيء في الوسط
لم أميزه في البداية...تحرك...فظننته حيوانا ما...ولم أصدق الفكرة ..حيوان ؟...ماذا يفعل الجنود في الشاحنة ومعهم حيوان غريب ؟..بقيت أقود السيارة ببطء ونظري معلق على الشاحنة...في لحظة ..أدركت أن هذا المخلوق الغريب هو إنسان...إنسان يجلس على ركبتيه مكتوف الأيدي وحول رأسه كيس من الخيش...له نتوءات مثل القرون !!
ما عدت أقدر أن أبلع اللقمة...ضحكت..ضحكت ضحكة سوداء ...هل للضحكة لون ؟
في تلك اللحظة أدركت أن للضحكة لون ...وهذه الضحكة لا يليق لها الا أن تكون سوداء حتى تناسب الموقف.
وتساءلت في نفسي عما فعله هذا المسكين...
ألقى عليهم قنبلة أم شاغب عليهم بطريقة ما ؟
المنظر يحتاج الى صورة ..وتكتب تحتها : بلا تعليق .
فقط حدق ...وضع إحتمالات .....إن كان وجه ضدهم شيء ...فسيغيب لشهور طويلة في معسكرات الإعتقال والتحقيق...
وإن كان ارتكب جريمة أو أذى ضد مدنيين عراقيين ....فسيطلق سراحه بعد فترة قصيرة...وليذهب المدنيون الى الجحيم ..
وتخيلت ..لو أنا كنت عاطلا عن العمل ,أو تم إلغاء الوزارة التي أعمل فيها..وأنا بلا راتب بلا مستقبل بلا فرصة عمل
ماذا كنت سأفعل؟؟؟
ثمة سياسة غبية تخلق جو العداء ضد الوجود الأمريكي ...والناس لا يلامون....
ومنظر هذا المغطى بالكيس رأسه ... لو كان حوله شرطة عراقية ..لأحسست بالتعاطف معهم وعدالة ما يفعلون...
لكن الجنود الأمريكان يحيطون بمواطن عراقي ...وهذا منظر مستفز للمشاعر...وتقفز أمامك كلمة: إحتلال.
فتشعر بالغضب والإهانة...
خف الإزدحام للحظة , ةانطلقت السيارات الأمريكية باتجاه المطار...ونحن في إتجاه آخر...حيث صرخ رجال الحراسات العراقيون حين صرت بمحاذاتهم..اسلكي أي طريق عدا المطار....سيطلقون عليك النار...
لا أعرف , ثمة هجوم ضدهم , في طريق المطار ...دوامة لا تنتهي...
نظرت الى عداد البنزين...ما زال فيه بقية...لن أقلق على البنزين ...وبدأت في طريق بعيد جديد ...رحلة العودة الى البيت...
كانت الساعة حوالي الرابعة حين وصلت...
كان المفروض أن أصل في الثانية والربع...
الحمد لله ...قلت لنفسي ...لم تأتيني طلقة طائشة ... وصلت بالسلامة...تعلمي كيف تنظري للوجه المشرق من الصورة...قلت لنفسي وأنا أدق الباب...وأفرح بسماع الأولاد يستقبلون عودتي....

Thursday, March 04, 2004

I have decided to teach you Arabic. If you want to learn our languge go to [Faiza Teaches you Arabic] but you will have to wait a couple of days until I actually put something on the blog.

This is a link to an Iraqi cook book by Nawal Nasrallah

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Friday 27/2

Today is the weekend. The whole family gets together and we have breakfast and lunch together. This doesn’t always happen during the week since our schedules are so different with school and work. On the weekend I always cook something special, since I have lots of time. I envy house wives because they have lots of time all week long. Today I cooked stuffed vegetables (dolma), it included zucchini, cucumber and pepper. You can also add onions and other vegetables but I wanted to keep it simple. The woman that helps me clean the house came today with her son, he is younger than Majid. They are a poor, well mannered and trust worthy family. She has lots of dignity which I really like about her. It makes me respect her, I would never exchange her for another hired help. I finished cooking and she did the clean up afterwards. I served lunch for myself and the kids in the kitchen and for her and her son in the garden where the sun was warm and beautiful. The weather is more spring than winter. I don’t like to eat while they wait. I think it would be insulting to them and in bad taste from my part. I remember the words of prophet Muhammad when referring to poor people, “Feed them from what you eat and dress them from your own clothes”. I usually donate some of my clothes that are in good shape and also shoes. I am too ashamed to give away something that is not in a good shape or that is not ironed. I feel it might be insulting to the receiver. I like to be generous and treat people as I would like to be treated. Friday is a day of prayer for Muslims. People go to mosques and other places of worship. Khalid and Majid decided to went out for prayers. I was worried about them with all the explosions and troubles that are happening all over the place. Then they came back home safely. Each time they go somewhere, I stay worried and I recite verses from the Quran in my heart. I keep praying to god that they return home safely. I think that belief in god is a person’s last resort in time of hardship.


This is the first month of the higri year (muslim calendar). We use the regular calendar used in the west for our daily life, business dealings and birthdays. I don’t know at what point we stopped using the Islamic calendar as the official calendar in Arabic countries. I know people are more committed to the muslim calendar in Persian gulf countries like Saudi Arabia. It stayed as a symbolic thing in most Arabic countries. It is symbolic of our the police and the army as a precaution against potential trouble caused by the Shi’ite muslim sect. The first ten days of this month commemorate the killing of Hussein may peace be upon him. He was the son of Fatima the youngest daughter of prophet Muhammad. Hussein attempted a now famous revolution against the Ummayed ruling family at the time. At the time there was lots of corruption and oppression in the ruling ranks. People in Iraq pleaded with Hussein, who was living in the Arabian peninsula. Hussein decided to answer the call and traveled to Iraq with his family, brothers, their wives and children. They were about 70 people. Negotiations occurred between them and the ruler in Syria. The ruler sent them threats. Messengers were sent to warn Hussein from entering into a battle because he would be at the losing end. They told him that the people of Iraq are with him in heart but their swords would be used against him. History books mention that he considered withdrawing and return to his home. He wasn’t interested in power and wealth but rather he was an honorable person wanting to support the poor and weak and stand up to the corrupt rulers. According to history books, the oppressive ruler wouldn’t allow Hussein to return home. He was afraid that the opposition would strengthen and he would come back to fight him at a later point. So he sent an army to surround them. On the tenth day of muharam, close to a water well in Karbala, they were denied access to water, they were killed. Hussein and his supports fought in the most honorable way, but all the men died. As for the women and children they were taken prisoners to Syria. With them the severed head of Hussein to show to the ruler. Hussein’s revolution remained alive in stories that people tell from one generation to the next. About an honorable man who wouldn’t stay silent in the face of oppression. He paid the price with his life and the life of his family.


Now everywhere you look in Baghdad you see black flags, in sadness about the death of Hussein. Many house holds cook to give food to the poor, a specific kind of food. When we cook on this occasion we stir the food in the pot with a huge spatula while saying, may peace be upon you, O! father of Abed Allah, may god have mercy on you, god bless you and bless your place in heaven with the martyrs and prophets. I love this story but it is also painful. I don’t like the exaggerations that happen. The hitting over the head or the self whipping. These are violent and hurtful acts that bare no relation to the story of Hussein. Remembering the story of Hussein brings up noble, refined and beautiful values that are inspiring to the soul. They make a person remember the values that Hussein died for. These values are about to become extinct. We live in a time where people are willing to die for material things.

[translation by]

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thursday 26/2

It is sunny in Baghdad. Today is the end of the week. On my way back from work, I smiled when I saw the mountains of lettuce displayed for sale on the pavements everywhere. Today I saw big sacks of carrots, bunches of green onions and pumpkins. All piled up on the streets. Majid laughed, what are they doing with it? Isn’t this for the Halloween? I laughed at him and told him that the pumpkins are for the jam. Nobody knows about Halloween here. I remembered my mom when we were kids, she would buy pumpkins in its season and make a big pot of jam. We would eat that jam every morning for breakfast; we would have it with cream and butter.


Assam is away on a trip. Work has become exhausting for me. I am forced to stay longer hours at work and get home late. I spend my time answering the customers questions about various orders. Pumps, drinking water systems, lab equipment. It is easy to deal with orders when the equipments is already available, but when we don’t have it at the store I have to go back to the catalogs, look up prices, submit proposals, technical specifications, delivery time to Baghdad. All these details cause a headache. The annoying part is that most of the people coming into the store are unqualified in this field. The person either owns a small money exchange store, retired from the army or real-estate agent. They ask stupid questions and they don’t always understand the answer. This kind of work requires technical knowledge, I wonder about what is going on. Isn’t there supposed to be a file for each person with his qualifications? Shouldn’t the priority be given to the people who are qualified to do the job? I don’t know, this is a mystery to me, I don’t understand what is going on? or how are these people getting hired?


The same thing happened this week on many occasions. The contractor comes in with a specification for a water system to be used on a water well. He wants me to give him the price of digging the water well and supplying the equipment. Digging a water well has nothing to do with our business and therefore I can’t give him an estimate. As for the water system, I need to first know the salinity of the water first. The higher the salinity the higher the device costs. So he asks me to give him an approximate price. I have to raise my voice again to tell him that there is no such thing, each piece has a different price. So he asks me to help him. I tell him to go back and get the specification of the water in the well. He tells me that he can’t, the American in charge of the project doesn’t like discussions. Why not? I ask him, isn’t he an engineer? No … he is a military person. and he doesn’t like too many questions. I put my hand on my check in despair. The military person is leading the army and the wars, I can understand that part, but what is his business in these matters? Isn’t there a technical and specialized team to deal with rebuilding the city? or to manage the military camps? Even in the Iraqi army, there was a specialized engineering unit to run such projects.


As for the emails that I get that comments on my writing on this webpage, they make me very happy. I use my free time when I get back from work to write up answers to the emails again. Sometimes this comes at the expense of getting an afternoon nap. Off course my responses are brief because I don’t have time to write lengthy emails. I enjoy reading the long emails that people send me, the ones that read like novels. They are like bridges of love and trust between Iraq and the rest of the world. Most of the emails I got this week were positive and made me happy. I got emails from the US, Canada and Europe. Many of them are mothers of my own age, there memories are genuine and beautiful. They made me smile and made me feel that the distances between us are getting shorter. It made me feel that we can understand the perspective of each other. One letter in particular made me happy and surprised me at the same time. A letter from an American soldier on his way to serve in Iraq. He is about Raed’s or Khalid’s age . He ask my permission to call me ma’am. He said that he loves Iraq and that he wants to help out. That he learned from his muslim superior how to behave well in a muslim country, how to be respectful to other people’s feelings, because he truly wants to help out. He told me that he was against the war, but now that it happened, he is sorry about the suffering of the Iraqi people. He wishes us freedom, and peaceful living. I sent him a reply. I thanked him and asked him to call me when he gets to Baghdad without hesitation, especially of he needs any help. He replied by saying that it would be against army regulation for him to call me.


Another email from an American, he sent me excerpts from Hamorabi’s law. This is the oldest law in human civilization. His email was very respectful towards other nations especially the Iraqi nation. He says that the American people love peace but the governments don’t think except about the type of peace that is in accordance with their self interest.


I have a hidden feeling of happiness. The Iraqi and American nations, each are thinking about the other. What does the other side want? What is their perspective? All these Iraqi websites, that have people from different perspectives writing, they are a miniature representation of our society. And the emails we get are a miniature representation of the society over there. These all bridges that help us build ties of trust and respect between the two nations. Some of the emails are from snobby Americans that are hostile in nature, but these are a small percentage. I usually simply delete those right after I read them and I smile, I don’t care about that point of view, because it is limited in its capacity to think. It is like the stupidity of Bin Laden and his narrow explanation of relations to others. When the issue of Iraqi occupation because a point of contention among the American people as they are about to enter presidential elections, this is a positive thing. We have a saying, sometimes what hurts you benefits you. This occupation has been a disaster that has descended on all of us. But I am sure that is has made the American public re-evaluate things again. It made people think about the meaning of a military presence here. The usefulness of them staying here. They are becoming convinced that Iraq is not a threat to them. Maybe they will start thinking that Iraq needs their help and support to build a new country that is suitable to its people, religion and its values. The mucking of a foreign hand will ruin and distort our values and our religion, intentionally or unintentionally. The American people should pressure its current and upcoming government to execute on the reconstruction of Iraq plans in a truthful and transparent manner. Exactly like they are doing in America, with all the American accomplishments, subject to accounting and questioning. While Iraq is in a state of chaos, there is no room for accounting and questioning. The responsibly will stay hanging in the neck of the occupation forces. I hope that they appreciate this situation and treat it in a serious and just manner. If this doesn’t happen then it will reflect badly on the Americans.


Yesterday, I had to go to work in the evening at the store. I returned home at eight in the evening. I rarely am late like this. I turned the security locking system on in my car, to guarantee that nobody could open the door from the outside. I was very nervous and I wanted to get home as quickly as possible. At the beginning of the street leading to our house an American check point. Mmmmm! is there a problem? I am going to be late, I told myself complaining. So I waited for my turn. The American soldier came and direct the light at me, the street was dark, I opened the window, he said a searching station, to the other street, he pointed with his hand, I told him that my house is on this street, if I went to the other street I will be far away, I don’t want to be late, search my car here, he said very angrily, No! go there. I said, but I am a woman, I don’t want to be late, Don’t you care? He said that it doesn’t matter to him, I raised my voice and said, my darling, you should care, I turned left and I felt angry. I had to wait my turn again. Then I found the same soldier coming towards my car again with the light in his hands. He said in faint voice, I hope you are not annoyed. I told him that I was annoyed. He told me he was sorry, but that he was following the instructions. I smiled and felt sorry for him. I wondered what stupid person brought this poor guy over here and made him face me face to face. He is afraid if me and I am afraid of him. He is suspicious of me and I am suspicious of him. When I got the searching point. There was an Iraqi person accompanying several American soldiers. He smiled and apologized and asked me to open the back trunk and the front of the car. They searched the car. I wished them a happy evening and went back home. I felt very sorry more than the anger. I wished they would all return to their families safe.

[translation by]

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