madly in love with Iraq

21.3.06

Is it really a teething problem?

When I miss home I go and sit in the steam room, the heat reminds me of the scorching summer of Baghdad and brings back all the memories, the ones I want to wipe off and the ones I want to cherish.

The heat contributed a lot to our hot temper, nervousness, anger; restlessness and finally the uniquely genuine warmth.

What this country has been through is unique as well. Fear, scepticism, aggression and defeat are all built in inside our souls.

Yet our warmth kept us going, our undeclared love to each other survived through decades. Most Iraqis were born and brought up and probably got married in the same house or at least stayed in the same area. You have strong relations with your neighbours, your local newsagent and kebab shop for generations.
If you are looking for someone; you can ask anyone in the street and they will show you the way. For a post man, your name in the envelope is enough to get your mail delivered. We take care of old people in the neighbourhood, I still remember an old man who used to live by himself, and for years until he passed away, all families in the street prepared his meals in turn, and took care of all his needs.
The idea of a visitor knocking on my door unexpectedly is one of the most things I miss, along with the extensive greetings and courteous terms we were brought up to practise, which really doesn’t mean anything around here.

People invest in their children’s education, and I mean all from the dustman to the top scientist. Deprivation was rather a stimulant for all to read and search and find means to maintain and repair everything in their household during the sanctions and even before. I cannot really recall a day without something essential missing from the shops. We were always manipulated and cornered somehow. When we go shopping, we used to buy so much as if there will be no tomorrow. We spent a life time running merely just to survive. All people around the world run and run but at the end of the day there is a reward, a nice holiday, a pleasure of some sort.
I was banned by my family from going to the local club because suddenly Uday started going there. Then I stopped going out with other girls to certain places to have a meal, because it was full of intelligence men and so on.

On a bigger scale, we were also deprived from our country’s wealth, our basic rights to achieve in our chosen career or higher education, unless we prove a specific loyalty. I worked in the government sector for one year and a half and was transferred four times because I did not fit in the Baath criteria, and originally come from a black listed family from the south.

Our destinies were played with from socialism to capitalism to tribalism or Islamism; all depended on Saddam moods.

People are fighting now to prove who was more oppressed under the regime.
I think all decent and honest Iraqis were.

It is true that some sects suffered more. But at the end of the day this was a general strategy and it was applied even on the closest aides of Saddam, when his disturbed mind gave him orders to kill and destroy.

When the 2003 invasion took place, I had mixed feelings, I was scared because every single person from my immediate family is there, and then I thought is it possible that our interests suddenly met with the Americans? Are we really going to wake up from our nightmare?

War means death and destruction that is for sure, but is it going to be our last one?
I wanted to believe this myth.

When I finally heard from my family by mid April 2003, they were not bothered to speak about what happened rather than what is going to happen. The long awaited freedom is finally there. My mother felt sorry for the people who died before witnessing this glorious day!

The rest we all know. By the time Iraqis pulled themselves together and started to read newspapers and watch what was going on in the world around them. The country was being ripped off by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the people they employed, the borders were left widely open, and the army was disbanded without any alternative.

Three years have passed by only to find out that even our functioning services started to fall apart. Our health system which was the envy of all countries of the region was destroyed; highly specialised doctors were replaced by stupid mentors and unqualified people and so on.

None of our neighbours want to see a stable Iraq. They are all playing the Iraqi card; for Iran to go ahead with the nuclear project in return of keeping their hands off Iraq,

For the Syrian to stop the terrorists flow, Americans has to cease their threats and interference.
Saudis want to export their maniacs across the borders, Kuwaitis want to revenge.

Israelis behaving like a possessive lover lobbying constantly to be the one and only in America’s heart, and have no intention of letting any country in the Middle East rise up.

The majority of Iraqis are jobless and hopeless, they are soft targets, easily provoked and deluded. The voice of reason is very low, because nothing relates to reason anymore. It is a matter of life or death which you have to face every second.

Iraq has become like a sinking ship, we try to close one hole, only to find out there is another one. The rats have done their business.

Many around here still think it is a teething problem. It looks to me the teeth have long come out and start to bite….I wish I am wrong.

8 Comments:

  • Have faith my friend.

    The fires of Berlin took almost five years to put out after WWII. Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered worse fate, and on 9/11, Manhattan looked like a snap shot from the apocalypse. I believe that you will agree that one can easily go on and on about the countless human tragedies that have taken place only in more recent memory. In all cases, the common denominator in the end has been the triumph of the human spirit.

    I'm always reminded by the following passage from Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet"

    And a woman spoke, saying, "Tell us of Pain."

    And he said:

    Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

    Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

    And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

    And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

    And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

    Much of your pain is self-chosen.

    It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

    Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:

    For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,

    And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

    By Blogger Antar, at 3:14 pm  

  • antar,
    Very nice poem. I wish it is my pain alone so I can deal with it.
    I wish things are improving so I and others can build a bit of hope.
    But when the situation is getting worse daily, how can we have faith?
    The blood is my only worry. Governments will come and go, one day there has to be an end. But we won't be able to bring the dead back to life.

    By Blogger hala_s, at 12:27 pm  

  • Much of what you wrote, I can understand and even agree with, but not this part,

    "Israelis behaving like a possessive lover lobbying constantly to be the one and only in America’s heart, and have no intention of letting any country in the Middle East rise up."

    Israel is as eager for democracy to spread through the ME as America. They know their only hope for peace is if the ME is full of other democratic countries. Democracies do not fight one another, rather they trade, visit, and sell their goods to other democracies. It is in everyone's interest to be trading partners.

    By Blogger DagneyT, at 6:08 pm  

  • My comment is for 'dagneyt'... Actions speak louder than words. Look at Israel's actions on the ground...and then voice your soft sentiment about Israel wanting democracies in the region...Israel only wants prostitute governments in the region that will answer to Israel's needs. Here's a study that proves my point: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

    By Blogger ZZ, at 10:22 pm  

  • hala, I appreciate your blog and the great feeling you project, and I think some of your posts are brilliant. Keep singing the praises of women in Islam and everywhere.

    I just hope you don't become another Riverbend, in exile. Her irrational hatred of Americans and other Western cultures in blaming anything and everything that goes wrong on anybody but herself and those around her who should take action is diheartening.

    I know this is too simplistic and doesn't take into account the astonishing bravery of the Iraqi people or their love for family and children. It's just that Riverbend is part wacko and please don't become like her.

    Dan C.

    By Anonymous Dan C., at 12:21 am  

  • Dagneyt
    Thank you for commenting.
    I am afraid that I don't agree with your view.
    I wish it is true though.
    It is easier for Israel to deal with dictatorships. Democracies in the ME mean war against Israel, not necessarily a traditional one could be an economical one.
    The hatred is beyond belief,
    Don't forget that for us it is an illegitimate country, we cannot look at it otherwise.

    dan c.

    Thank you for the nice words,

    Two things I have to stress on here,

    1- I don't hate anyone.
    I live in the UK and I owe this country a lot. I respect the culture in here and enjoy it as well. I have nothing against westerners or Americans as people. Being different doesn't mean we are better.

    2- Pro-Iraq is my only agenda, I write what I feel and what I see, and if it political I have proofs.
    I am proud that I do change my views (not principles) and not blindly stick to one thing.
    I do blame Iraqis more than anyone else.But a lot of forces are playing a big role don't you think so?

    By Blogger hala_s, at 10:25 am  

  • i'm tremendously moved by your writing; it is beautiful and tragic at the same time. though i believe that nothing in my future will allow me to understand what you and your compatriots have experienced, and continue to experience, i would like to think that there is some human solidarity left in the world, and that divides will ultimately fade, if not go away. please keep writing, friend.

    By Blogger QED, at 12:14 am  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger QED, at 12:15 am  

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