Saturday, February 27, 2010
A must read: A Family in Baghdad - The war diary
Tuesday, the 18th of March 2003
A forty eight hours awareness was made today by Bush to Saddam, everyone in the city went to work, but the environment is depressed, and the smell of war is all over the place.
Streets are full of sand bags used as fighting positions, and huge halls in the ground of Baghdad full of burning oil to cover the sky of the city and prevent the American fighters to see clear.
People running to collect food and other important things before hiding in their houses, everyone is trying to see his friends and family before going to hide, who can tell, maybe this will be the last time we meet!
Every Iraqi house is full with food rations; rice, sugar and flour… beans and canned vegetables…
Juices and mineral water…
Soap, washing powder and hygiene paper…
Petrol for the cars, diesel for the generators…
And most houses have wells in their backyards too!
The war is coming soon!!!
In my way back home, I bought many other things…
And I went to a small plant house, and brought ten flower plants, with different colors and shapes.
I decided to enjoy life until the last moment!
I want to go in a tour around Baghdad, a good bye tour.
I don’t know, maybe I’ll leave this world
Maybe some parts of Baghdad will disappear…
And I want to see the river, Tigris, before the war begins.
I couldn’t go in my evening tour…
Raed went out to visit his friends and forgot my car’s keys in his pocket///
I felt very bad…
So I just went to visit my neighbours to have some chai, and speak about the war and what everyone is expecting
I came back home feeling alienated and anxious.
But one thing is letting me feel comfortable, that Raed is with us. Alhamdu lellah that the whole family is together, if Raed was in Amman now he would have been feeling worried thinking about us, and the same would have been here too.
Wednesday the 19th of March 2003
I spent the day doing some housewife work, washing clothes and cleaning the kitchen…
I didn’t go to work today, we evacuated our showrooms and they look sad and empty…
We took everything to the stores, everything…
All the shops are closed, streets are empty, houses are full or their owners and some relatives that came running away form their unsafe places.
Some houses are empty; their owners left Baghdad, or maybe left Iraq.
It’s very quiet and silent outside, but I can feel the silence smiling and telling us “you’ll miss me”
I feel uncomfortable because of this unexpected change in our every day’s schedule; no schools, no work, no going out from the house.
I’m not even sure that my mood will let me be ready to read a book.
I had a dream some days ago, for me standing in a large green garden… in the middle of the garden there was a house, and there was a fence for the garden that had a small broken part… so a yellow long snake came from the broken part… and came around the house, and people ran away from the house. Then some smaller snakes came out from the big one and hid behind the bushes.
On the roof of the house I saw some water tanks leaking, and men trying to fix them and protect us from the falling water…
After that I saw ourselves in a safe house, and a black dog came running, he seemed to be very tired… I felt sad and asked what’s wrong with him? I was told that his sons were taken from him…
My neighbour says that maybe this is a symbol of Saddam and that this would be his end…
I remembered my father, he used to say: who takes the chair (authority) with blood, won’t leave it except with blood.
My heart felt sad and insecure… a snake in the dream means an enemy… and my dream ment that iraq is going to be invaded.
Thursday the 20th of March, 2003
We heard the sirens, and the first attack started… after the dawn prayer.
I went running to the down floor, everyone was awake. I arranged the breakfast and we enjoyed eating together. We discussed some different topics and laughed.
Our family was lucky because we had a satellite receiver that we hide, we watched some news channels, everyone in the world was watching us.
Bombing was far way, it didn’t seem to be dangerous, maybe it would be more dangerous next days..
News said this is just the beginning, and the next attack will be huge.
The evening bombing lasted for more than one hour, I could clearly hear the sound of missiles falling down, and the anti aircraft guns shooting and shooting…
My stomach hurts and I feel depressed…
How many days are we going to stay like this? Like prisoners... with no life and no work or production…
It’s a silly way to solve problems… these wars…
When is this stupid movie going to finish and the normal life comes again?
Saturday the 22nd of March 2003
Yesterday’s night was a disaster
Explosions were huge, they shook houses and broke windows… missile attacks…
Now… we could see the ugly face of the war
We went through real terrifying moments; I covered my face with my hands and read some verses of Qur’aan
I was frightened to death!
The room was shaking, curtains flew in the air after every missile explodes, and there were just few seconds between one missile and the next…
I took a sleeping pill, and felt so sleepy… when the bombing went a bit far from our area, Azzam went to prepare dinner, but I refused to leave the room.
The whole family sleeps in one room, in the deepest part of our house; far from the street… we called it the safe room.
Most of the other families have their safe rooms too… and they sleep together there.
We had our dinner in the same room, and I slept on the floor even without washing my hands…
I woke up in the time of Athan (announcement) of dawn prayer, and I could still hear explosions coming from far away, and all the mosques praying and repeating Allaho Akbar .. Allaho Akbar (God is the greatest).
My soul felt secure and safe, I finished my Wodooa (washing before praying) and prayed for god.
Then sirens were screaming again announcing a beginning of a new attack, I was very sleepy though, and I went in a deep sleep with the rest of the family.
At the early morning many of our relatives phoned us, Hamdella As Salama .. Hamdella As Salama (appreciation to god for your safety) … it seems that everyone heard in the news that bombing was near hour neighbourhood last night.
Sunday, the 23rd of March 2003
The bombing of yesterday was far away…
I was anxious waiting for the American fighters to come until ten o’clock, it was very quite and calm then… what a great thing to live without bombing!
At the late night we heard some small explosions…
I spent the morning time cocking, washing dishes and completing the other stupid housewife work… it’s fine though because it lets me work and forget about the war for while…
After lunch I went to visit our neighbors and we enjoyed drinking Chai together.
At the evening, I took another sleeping pill at nine hoping that it would help me sleep…
We had our lunch in the safe room, and I slept at ten thirty.
Then at around one in the morning we woke up on a huge enormous very near explosion, maybe it was the airport…
The ground was moving as if it was an earth quake… like if something was digging deep in the ground…
Huge explosions and earthquakes continued until the morning…
We spent the night trying to take some short naps between one big explosion and another.
Monday the 24th of March 2003
My face is pale, I cannot sleep neither during the night, nor during the day time.
We can hear the explosions all the day long, they say Americans are bombing the surrounding areas of Baghdad… preparing to enter the city.
Yesterday the Iraqi television put on the pictures and interviews with American prisoners… I don’t like to se these things at all
The situation is getting worse, battles in the south to invade the Iraqi cities, Iraqi resistance and press conferences.
We had an electricity black out for some hours, and its cloudy and clod today. I’m not in the mood to do anything, I feel tired and sleepy… dreaming of the end of this nightmare.
When is it going to happen??
I have extra fee time, that I would wish to have in my ordinary life… but it’s a depressing hateful free time now! Full of sirens and explosions!
I don’t like it at all.
Tuesday, the 25th of March 2003
The bombing of last night was short, but concentrated. Most of it was far from our part of the city.
“Far away”, Azzam said, “means it’s against the Iraqi army bases”.
I feel very sad for those fighting in the Iraqi army; neither new military equipments nor modern military plans are available for them. There is no sense to compare between the capabilities of the two armies, a destroyed miserable army on one hand, and an extremely high-tech one on the other hand.
I took a long deep after noon nap, and woke up at around six. Bombing stopped at one in the morning because of the bad weather,,,
In the silence and darkness of yesterday’s night, we could hear the noise of the American fighters flying in the sky in Baghdad from time to time, and I wondered: couldn’t this military pilot get himself another job?!
Did he really try to find other alternatives before accepting this evil job?!
I smiles, and hid under the cover… one thousand answers attacked me in my shelter: the same pilot in the point of view of his home citizens is a great hero, and an evil criminal in our point of view!
The dusty weather and strong wind gave us a real quite day! With no explosions!
The dust became very dense in the afternoon, the sky was orange and sometimes red, and I couldn’t breathe because of the concentrated sand in the air.
The funny thing that we couldn’t close our windows; if we closed them a single near explosion would break all the glass!
We spent the night choking! What a happy day!
Wednesday, the 26th of March 2003
I got up early in the morning, cleaned the floors, washed the bathrooms and washed the pathways in the garden.
The car park, the garden and our cars are in a pathetic condition because of the mud and dust of yesterday, in fact the dust and sand turned out to be mud after the rain of yesterday’s night. Everything is covered with red mud now!
They said tomorrow is the last dust day…
Today is a rainy day, but we still have dust all around…
I have a stomach-ache, and the Baboonej tea didn’t help me much. I feel that my life is really hard with all of this bombing, dust and stomach pain!
When are we going to get our life back? Kids go to their schools, Azzam and me go to our work, speak with customers, sell and buy, visit friends and neighbours,,,
When is life going to start again?
Thursday, the 27th of March 2003
It’s a sunny day, a bit cold though
My stomach-ache is gone after I took the medicine.
Yesterday’s night was so difficult and long, I didn’t care much about the bombing, but my stomach pain was killing me…
Life is going in a very slow motion,
And what is coming is still mysterious.
Is the situation going to settle down again?
I don’t believe so…
Friday, the 28th of April 2003
Continuous close shooting didn’t stop in the morning, I was frightened. Didn’t understand what was happening…
The anti aircrafts guns were targeting something…
And suddenly something happened and it was a mess! People running in the streets and shouting! What’s happening??
“They shot down a small American plane”
Raed and Azzam went out to check what happened, and came back with a small part of the destroyed monitoring plane!
We kept it as a souvenir.
At the evening, a missile attacked Sho`la Market, which is a real dense and poor area…
55 killed and around 50 injured… it is such a tragic painful thing to happen.
Hospitals we full of injured people, their families and the news channels people…
Today is a sad day… worse than the previous ones…
We started feeling insecure as civilians now…
When is all of this going to finish?
Saturday, the 29th of March 2003
Loud noise of air fighters from seven in the morning,
Explosions are happening far away, but a couple of them happened very near…
I’m totally terrified, my nerves are tired… any thing scares me and I’m shaking all the time…
It’s ten in the evening now, and we are enjoying a quiet sky.
It was really calm, unless some fast cars driving through our street… and some far away dogs barking.
I spent the evening with Majid, reading some Shakespeare plays.
My heart is really sad, because of the casualties of yesterday bombing at Sho`la.
And I’m feeling afraid of what might happen to us while we are in our houses, I think everyone thinks everyday might be his last one.
They broadcasted news about a suicide bombing at Najaf…
We put a large plan of Iraq in our sitting room, so that we can trace where the Americans reached day by day. And where from are they going to enter Baghdad.
I was wondering… what ware we going to see first?
Tanks? Soldiers? Or helicopters?
Sunday, the 30th of March 2003
Extremely strong night attacks…
Our house was shaking all the night, I don’t know what were they boming. In the early morning the glass our master bedroom was broken. Fortunately, no one is sleeping there now.
I felt the pain squeezing my heart, and my face became pale. I went with Azzam to clean and collets the glass fragments… and we put a wood layer instead of the broken glass.
The situation of our bed room is very sad, first it was abandoned, and now with broken windows.
Every night we go to sleep after dinner, and because the whole family is sleeping at the same room now, we spend long time in speaking and laughing in the dark…
At around midnight I hear the siren and start feeling nervous. I hide myself in the bed and everyone laughs and makes jokes on me… I just hate to hear the sound of air fighters, but Azzam keep on teasing me, “ here they came hide hide” he says and laughs.
All what I can do is read some Quraan, and ask god to let the pilot go away without killing us.
I spend the night trying to sleep between explosions! I don’t even think I can really sleep…
I started feeling really afraid to get some kind of disease because of my continuous horror.
At ten in the morning, Abu Saleh the gardener came… to take his salary…
We didn’t see him since before the war started, I like to see him very much, he is a polite old poor man, he has a big family that share the house with his brother’s big family… I think they have more than 15 people living in that house.
We invited him to drink Chai (Iraqi tea) with us in the kitchen.
What’s up? What are you and your big family doing?
He seemed to be sad and depressed.
Very bad news, he said.
Some moments of silence gave us the chance to taste the Chai.
What’s wrong Abu Saleh? What happened?
Abu Saleh and his big extended family lives in a near area, there is a wide street dividing our neighborhoods, but their district is a very poor one, most of its residence work either as solders, or ad farmers and gardeners. It’s call Al-Furat (the Euphrates) district. Everyone was expecting that Al-Furat ould be a target for bombing, it is very near to a presidential palace, to the National Guard center, and to the airport.
“We left our house”, he said. “They attacked the republican guard center yesterday’s night, and all of your houses were affected. I heard about window glasses that fall down because of bombing, but did you imagine seeing broken doors?! Our doors were pulled out of the walls because of yesterday’s attacks!!”
“Women were screaming and crying… they were shaking like leaves of a palm tree… and they were begging me to take them out of this hell. Take us to any other place they said”
“Believe it or not Abu Raed, I went out in the middle of the night… brought a truck and put all the girls and women inside it… all of us… the old and the young…”
Azzam and I were shocked!
“We couldn’t even take anything with us, I just asked the soldiers to take care for our house”
Where did you go? I asked.
“In some skeleton of a house at Radwanyya”
We felt very bad for what happened to the old Abu Saleh.
How can we help you? We were wondering.
He asked us whether we had an extra oil lamp, they were living in darkness.
We gave him one of our two gasoline lamps, and begged him to accept some money too… “Buy some vegetables for your family”, I said.
We walked with him to the man door, and he promised to come back later this week to let us know what happened with them.
I felt really sad; I thanked God we are still in our home.
I wondered… how many other families faced the same circumstance?
Only God knows, and only him can protect us with his mercy.
"Friday, 25th., April, 2003
I wish the electricity would come back to Al-Mansoor area, so shops would re-open again, and we get back to work…I wish the city would become peaceful again, and life would be like it was…and better…that I would go back to my job…The house-cleaning campaign is still on…we washed the curtains, and the back garden. We cleaned the dining and guest rooms rugs. I took the plants from inside the rooms to the garden, as it became yellowish, and some parts of them were dead…the rooms now are spotlessly clean, after the war dust, and the sand storms.Today, Tarik Azzeez surrendered to the coalition forces…and the 55 most wanted American list is shorter, by 13.
Saturday, 26th., April, 2003
Resuming the house-cleaning campaign.. I do want this campaign to finish, and perhaps things would get better next week, by the will of GOD, so I could go back to work.
Sunday, 27th., April, 2003
The cleaning is still going on.. We washed the curtains of the three bed-rooms, and their rugs. We re-arranged Majid's room as it was before the war…During the war we called it (The Fortified Room), and all the family used to sleep there. The weather is dusty…I feel very tired…my whole body is hurting me.. And I still have to clean the kitchen's closets, and the book case, the closet in my room, and in Khalid's…I shall kill my self, of boredom…
Monday, 28th., April,2003
I went to my sister's house in the morning. She is a pharmacist, but I didn't find her. Her daughters told me that she went to open the pharmacy.I was so happy to hear this news…By GOD'S will I too shall go to work by next week.I bought some things for the house from Al-Amaal Al-Sha'aby Street in Ameriya, where I felt that life has started to move back gradually.In spite of the short-termed electricity current…but the movements in the markets became more active. Most people buy meat, vegetables, and dairy products every day… because refrigerators have been omitted from our lives… we went back to the ages before electricity.Khalid, Ra'id, and Majid went to Al-Fannar Hotel today, in front of Palestine Hotel, where they would meet Non-Governmental Organizations, and some old and new friends…Ra'id went to Karballa yesterday, with Marla, from (CIVIC) Organization, where they started working to count the wounded and killed Iraqi civilians during the war. Ra'id tells painful stories about children who played with cluster bombs, then the bombs exploded upon the, killing them, or filling their bodies with splinters.. Or cut their limbs...Many new casualties enter daily into the southern cities hospitals, the families of farmers who go down the fields to reap wheat or rice, and a cluster bomb would explode from among the plants.. Ra'id said that while he was there, eleven people, members of the same family, were admitted, seven of whom died, and the rest remained wounded…They started printing precautionary posters, warning the citizens of these bombs. I took a few posters to stick in the front window of our shop, and to distribute them to the neighboring shops. Such bombs were dropped upon Al-Furat District area near our house, the night the coalition forces entered Baghdad Airport, also upon Abu-Ghareeb area…where casualties occurred when people were cleaning the streets and burning the garbage, and the cluster bombs exploded upon the.
*Tuesday, 29th., April, 2003
I finished cleaning the house…Boredom… nothing new…Electricity is rarely here…*********************
Thursday, 1 st., May, 2003
There is a crisis about benzol and cooking Gas…perhaps they would be available next week
Friday, 2nd , May, 2003 Laundry, cooking, and dish washing, then cloth sorting. Tomorrow I shall start working in the shop, by GOD's will… the schools shall also start tomorrow…by GOD, I wish all would be peaceful and cool…
Saturday, 3rd , May, 2003
I started working in the shop. There is no electricity…but the shop is clean and tidy, as Azzam and Abu-Ahmed, our employee, re-arranged it, re-polishing the wooden desk, and the book case behind it, I was very happy…There is a noticeable congestion at the petrol stations. There are unpleasant stories from our customers, about killings and car despoiling incidents.
Sunday, 4th , May, 2003
I started working again…electricity came, to make me happier.The traffic lights are working in most streets…and most of the shops are open…
Monday, 5th , / Tuesday, 6th , May, 2003
I go to work…there is no electricity. I saw some traffic policemen, then they disappeared the next day. The policemen are unarmed, the Americans are forbidding them to carry weapons, how could they defend themselves, or defend an Iraqi under threat? And now we can't carry weapons to defend our selves? Who will protect us? The American tanks are roaming the streets, but they are not concerned with the killings or despoiling events…they do not interfere. What are they doing then?? Where is the army, where is the Iraqi police???
Wednesday, 7th , May, 2003
I stopped going to work…I made a strike. Only a gloomy feeling, and staying at home…there is no electricity.. Quite a crowed on the petrol station… no safety in the streets…******************
Monday, 12th , May , 2003
I went to work. Still no electricity… the streets are busy, there are no police, no security. The benzol is being sold on the street corners (Black market)… there is no cooking gas. The country is in chaos, accidents are increasing every day. I feel very depressed.
Wednesday, 21st, May, 2003
Electricity is on at the hours : 6-8 p.m., 2-4 a.m., the Americans are spreading news about achievements they have accomplished…but on actual grounds we see nothing… we don't know whether they are truthful or not… The schools are open, they are teaching whatever, the importance being for the children to finish their school year. Some schools were destroyed during the war, so, they merged the students with others from another school, and made the school day in two shifts, morning and afternoon... then a date for the final exams was fixed, the 7th. Of June. The universities are in total disarray... with elections... there are some fights between the professors, among themselves and with students... This week's slogan is : (eradicate the Ba'ath.,), launched by Premar...People seem to have gone crazy, each is ripping the other, aggressively. They threw down the statue of Ahmed Hassan Al-Baker, and the metal statues of the Um Al-Toubol Martyrs were stolen, by a gang who stole them and melted them down, as they say, in order to sell them. And the Al-Sa'adoon statue, of the Iraqi prime minister during the Monarchic period, was stolen also…his family is complaining and demanding an investigation. All senior Ba'athi officials were dismissed from state offices, and from universities and schools. Most professors and teachers were Ba'ahtis, whether they liked it or not. But no one is listening to their complaints. A state of chaos and aggressive behavior is infecting people against each other.
Saturday, 31st , May , 2003
Electricity is a little better. Benzol is still a problem, while cooking gas is starting to be available, but with an expensive price (3000 Dinars), before the war, a bottle was sold at (300 Dinars). A campaign is starting to collect weapons from the houses. My spirits are better. Azzam has traveled, and I go to work every day. The business is with private citizens only, there are no state offices or organizations.
Monday, 7th, June, 2003
The electrical engineer who was repairing my car a week ago, then disappeared, came to my shop. His head and hand were bound, on his face there were scars… he apologized for the delay, as an armed gang attacked him, and wanted to steel the car of a customer he was driving with. But the owner refused to give up his car keys, after he activated the alarm system, crippling the car, and threw the keys away… they beat the owner until he passed out, then left him in the street, it was noon time. Then they took the engineer with them, in the car trunk, tying his hands and covering his eyes, they took him to a house in a crowded, popular area, Al-Washash, were no Iraqi police would enter, perhaps not even the Americans. They beat him in punishment for not helping them get the keys… in the afternoon, an old man came, perhaps their father or uncle, the engineer begged him to let him go free, because he is from Mousel, and wants to go back to his family, and because he was blameless in the matter, as it was the owner who refused to give up his car. The man felt sorry for him, gave him a clean shirt, instead of the one that was torn and full of blood. They covered his eyes, then dropped him off the main street, where he spent the night at a relative's house. He came to say goodbye, saying he will go back to his family in Mousel, as Baghdad has become intolerable. I felt very sad for him, the story bothered me very much…I decided not to use my car from now on… I covered it with a thick cover…then arranged with the son of my neighbors, who was a state employee, and has now become jobless, to take me to work every day, then get me back at noon. ***********************
Wednesday, 4th, June , 2003
Azzam is in Amman on business. Majid has second term exams and is busy studying. Khalid goes to the university three days a week. Ra'id works with the (CIVIC) Organization to count the dead and wounded. He goes down to the south every Saturday, and gets back on Tuesday or Wednesday night…..My mind remains worried for him until he comes back…the roads in the south are not safe…there are lootings and killings too… I keep asking God to safe Ra'id and those with him, as long as they work for the good of people…Perhaps after collecting the information about the victims, they could demand compensations from the American government, for the victim's families…for houses destroyed…or family members killed or wounded.I go to work with the driver, and Abu-Ahmed, our employee, who is a neighbor. When I get out of work, I buy the fruit, vegetables, bread, and other house necessities, then they drop me home. I lost a lot of my personal freedom, and the joy of driving my car…but I gave it all up for safety. Most neighbors, relatives and friends put their valuable cars in their garages, with a thick cover, then started moving around with moderate cars, and a driver.I took the computer to the shop. Before the war, I used to take a course of computer skills and software, but I seem to have forgotten most of it…I enlisted in the institute for a new, intensive course, and in the afternoon, I arranged with another driver to take me with Khalid to the institute, then take us back home.The streets were forbidding, unsafe, and depressive. There were few students at the institute, while before the war it was full of students. But now that the conditions are a lot less safe, where are the job opportunities?Most state offices are destroyed; the employees stand in the street, or get inside the ministry, only to find no chairs or desks, so they gather daily to meet each other, then go home. Many rumors and tales have risen about the salaries, there are worries and hunger in the houses. Some ministries have been disbanded, its employees sat at home, with no past, and no future. The Ministry of Information, the staff of The Radio & T.V. …the Ministry of Defense, the officers, the soldiers and their families… Every day there are demonstrations and clashes with the coalition forces…people wonder: what is our fate, and that of our families???I don't know… the general conditions are obscure and depressing.
Thursday, 5th, June, 2003
Khaleel, my youngest sister's husband, is a pharmacist. He used to work as a general manager in the Ministry of health… He had a good reputation in the ministry, and used to help people a lot… now he is meeting with American comities to organize the work of the ministry…The situation is very difficult…there are no salaries for employees, the offices are burned…the hospitals plundered, but the coalition forces are trying to get the situation under control again…. We deem them responsible for whatever catastrophes that took place…there was a delinquency from their side, and bad management. OR perhaps they intended these catastrophes to happen…I don't know, but people are angry, asking: what are these thousands of soldiers doing here?? And every thing is falling backwards…. Khaleel, my brother in law, had a brain clot while working at the ministry...they admitted him to hospital…my sister is in very tired spirits…I went to visit them, he can't walk or talk…I felt very sad for him, he is at the beginnings of forties, facing lots of pressures…his wife said he will die of sorrow for what happened to the ministry, and we shall be orphaned, me and my daughters…she had a fight with him, telling him to leave the job there, for you will either die of exhaustion, or some malicious ignorant will assassinate you, thinking you a happy beneficiary. Perhaps he will travel abroad for treatment. Gangs are still killing and despoiling, every day there are new, painful, stories. Many families still have missing people, whom they are looking for…most of them went missing during the entry of the coalition forces into Baghdad… the roads were closed, so no body knew the news...perhaps they died during the fighting between the coalition forces and the Iraqis. People mostly are divided into two factions…some support the Americans and feel optimistic about their presence …while the others do not see good in their presence. Some resistance operations have started, and missiles were launched at the Americans…We say, it is still early to judge them…give them a chance, and we will see the truth with time. We will know if they were truthful, or liars.
Sunday, 8th, June, 2003
I started my typing and computer course…my mood isn't what it used to be, in former courses I was more active, more smart and cheerful…but today I find my self dull and frustrated…with no mood at all to comprehend the information …. I don't know, maybe the war changes people into the worst. The city is filling with new Newspapers…some of them are comforting, some are silly. Majid works with the (Al-Muwajaha = confrontation) Newspaper, which criticizes the coalition forces…. The coalition forces sent someone to the press office asking about it, and who writes in it…I am afraid they would take Majid to prison, I said to him: darling, we don't want any troubles…we just got rid of Saddam, who said America is democratic 100%?Perhaps they have democracy there, for their people, but I do not suppose they will treat us as they would treat their people…for us they are occupation forces. Majid says: I wish they would arrest one of us, so we could collide with them and expose them, where is the democracy???Oh, my son, why do you love trouble??? He laughs and says: Mama, don't be a coward, let us walk a new path…I find he is right…but I fear for him…I want no one to hurt him. And I don't want to deprive him from having his own experience in life… our generation was wronged…Yes; we studied, learned, worked, and succeeded, but we were deprived from the opportunity of contributing in making a better life... perhaps this is a new chance to move and craft our life all a new...I would love for Majid and his generation to own their freedom, and succeed in making a better future for their generation... I like their daring and enthusiasm… I pray to GOD to keep them safe, and faring.They go out every day with Cameras, and make reports with people, some times interviewing soldiers from the coalition forces, but with no ability of communication, because the soldier doesn't have the permission to talk to people…. The soldier obeys orders only, and doesn't argue. And this is a problem…there can be no communication between them and people as ordinary humans, who eat and drink and make friendships, then we hope they would go back to America and tell their government to pull its troops from there…I do not think they could do such a thing. Most of them come from poor families, who need the tempting salary. Why should he be concerned with the Iraqi misery???
Monday, 9th, June, 2003
A customer came to the shop, with some materials used in water purifying systems. I knew these materials were not imported individually, because they were missing from the market before the war, and only state organizations had them. He brought samples, and asked me if I would buy from him??I asked him first: where did you get them from???...confess, I said, laughing.Do you want the truth??? He asked, naively.Yes, tell me the truth…I said, in a high voice…there were other customers in the shop, and I found the dialogue worthy of hearing.He said he stole them from state organizations. Why?He said that Saddam Hussein executed his uncle, who was in the army…And did your uncle come back alive?? Or is he happy in paradise???How should I know?? He said. Then shook his shoulders: then what should I have done???.I felt angry, because of his great stupidity, and his ugly crime which he hasn't realized till now…My laughter turned to anger, I said: And what should I tell my maker on the Day of Judgment??? That I bought stolen materials from you??? As if I have shared your sin…He dragged his feet out, completely let-down…then returned, begging in the same dumb way: O.K….give a piece of advice, for a Muslim brother.Ha...ha...ha. I wanted to roar in laughter, but the situation was disasters, and wouldn't stand a laugh. I shouted angrily at him: And what have you left to Islam???I wished I would get up and hit him on the face, hoping he would wake up from his slumber. My nerves were burning…. I kept remembering him all day, remembering the dialogue with him, then my blood would boil in anger…I kept grumbling upon him, his foolishness and stupidity. The customers and employees in the shop were laughing, telling me not to mind him, he is scum… I was very sad, because this model was new on the screen of our lives, the ignorant thieve model, an enemy of himself and his country, and he doesn't know it.
As if some devil has touched up our lives…touched up every one, and they got mad. The government officials are fighting among them selves, Ba'athis and non- Ba'athis, top officials and minor officials…people on the streets are divided between a peaceful, fearful, person, and a brutish villain, who wouldn't stop at any crime, and who would stop him??? … No police, no army, no state…only a coalition force roaming the streets in tanks, as if parading them selves, not believing they really got here….living in a world which is not connected to ours…. We are all wondering: why did they come, what are they doing???No one knows the answer…maybe in time we shall find out.
Translated by May / Baghdad. "
Tuesday, June 10th, 2003
The connections are back with some of the Communication Centers, so I was able to call my sisters, and feel reassured about them.
Our affairs changed very much from what it used to be before the war. We always get back home before the Sunset Prayer Call…that is, before it gets dark, because the incidents of killing and thieving increase with darkness. With sunset, we close the main gate, and when the bill rings, Raid goes out to the garden, carrying a Kalashnikov, and behind him would be Azzam, and Khalid, and Majid…
And the visitor would turn out to be one of the neighbors, or a family whose car had ran out of petrol, so we take pity upon them and help them, and we fall to laughing, mocking the irony of the way we look, as if we were living in a jungle without security. The feelings of security and trust fell away from among the people, and no one knows from where calamity would strike.
I look at the (Al-Muwajahaa Newspaper: Confrontation), edited by a group of young men, Majid among them. It carries various articles….. There is an Article about the Society of Free Prisoners, who was trying to locate the missing Political Prisoners, and there is a continuous, daily wailing to look for mass graves, and the secret tunnels and underground prisons. We all feel sad; we all call the curse of GOD upon the unjust people.
Another Article talks about some Palestinian families who were thrown out of their houses, and are now living in tents in a sports club, while the Iraqi Red Crescent is trying to help them humaniterily, they are about 240 families. I do not know the reason of such a frantic hostility, for these are not the Iraqis manners…
Some of these families traveled to Jordan, as they had Jordanian passports. But the others who had Palestinian- Iraqi traveling documents, no one received them, or recognized them, or issued a visa for them… I don't know what is the guilt these people committed, and why were they cornered suddenly…there is some ambiguity in this story.
In another article in the newspaper, there is a part of an interview of the American press with Ramesfeild, in Washington, D.C., as he comments on what is happening in Iraq: "It is chaos, and freedom is chaos, they are free even to make mistakes and commit crimes, and act wrongful deeds…."
I don't know how these people think??? Do they live like this in America?? People killing, looting, and committing all sins, is this really The Freedom??
There is also an article about a theatre group of Iraqi young men and women, who entered Al-Rashid Theatre, that was destroyed by the bombing, and among the debris, performed a spontaneous play, called " They passed through here"……..meaning the forces of invasion and destruction. The audience consisted of some journalists, and the friends and relatives of the actors.
The actors wondered, while on a broken theatre: What exactly is freedom?
The play said that Iraq survived war, yet war is not over yet, what is over is only one face of it, the face of bombs and missiles. Now it is time for the war of the spirit, and as the winner in the bombs war is the more technologically advanced, so the winner of the spirit war shall be the most loving….
Still there was one more article, which frightened me the most, and I didn't believe it, and I felt afraid for Majid because of it, because he was the one who made the interviews, with a group of Jordanian and Palestinian University students who study in Iraqi Universities, whose houses were raided, they were detained with severe cruelty, some of them in their night clothes, and they were taken to the prisoners of war detention camp in Um-Qaser. Some of them were released after two weeks of panic, insults, and silly questions like: Where is Saddam Hussein? Or, describe your self to us, then they laugh at them, and jeer…
I could not believe…. But Majid swears they are truthful, that they shall leave Iraq immediately, abandoning their studies, while the rest of their colleagues are still detained, their fate unknown…some of them were students who are members of old Palestinian Organizations, like Fateh, or the Public Front.
Who informed about them, and where did the lists of their names and addresses come from??
A very fishy story, and one that raises suspicions… and then, what is the benefit of the American army in all these matters? Or perhaps the Mosad are here, and these are their duties…
I don't know, everything is possible…and maybe the days shall carry answers with them.
Most of the newspapers issued after the war, clap for the occupation forces, publish news about following Saddam and his aids, and Bin Laden… about huge projects that will soon retrieve life back to the Iraqis, and we are all awaiting impatiently the re-building of Iraq.
Thursday, June 12th, 2003
Strong explosions at the Airport Street… at 4p.m., then at 10 p.m....
The daily comments of people are: What is the use of these explosions? And if American soldiers were killed in it… that will not change the policy of the American administration, so as to pull out their troops…
Even if half of the American army was killed here…they will send replacements. So, the matter for them is worth their sacrifices, for the sake of their interests. But, what shall we gain??
Nothing but pain, chaos, and the lack of security….
I don't know… I find my self frustrated, and at a loss to what is happening.
Friday, June 13th, 2003 - Monday, June 30th, 2003
First: A new car arrived, a Mercedes that Azzam bought from U.A.E... Baghdad is filling with new cars, from all models and brands. As if people were repressed, and now, their dreams has come true… but traffic jams are increasing in Baghdad…the subject needs a serious study, for this chaos is full of foolishness, and poor planning….
We received new merchandise for the shop. This is the first time after the war, but the expenses of the transportation and insurance are very high, that we will be forced to raise the prices of filters, and other items, and we shall explain the reasons to all the customers…so they wouldn't get mad…
The generator got burned up, and we bought a new, bigger one, to endure working most of the daily hours, as there seems to be no apparent improvements in the electricity conditions.
I took a new Computer course at the institute…
But a strange thing occurred… we were amazed, all the family opened their mouths, then stared into each other's eyes, unbelieving…
We had an engineer working in the shop with us as a partner since we opened up, a Christian; he is very polite and honest. A lot of the administrative transactions were carried out by him, so we gave him a lot of authorities to ease the work… the shop rent contract was in his name, so was the membership card of the Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, and the Importation License… there was an amount of high trust between us, he received a high salary, and a yearly percentage of sales profits.
We saw nothing of him after the war….we thought his house was far away so he couldn't get to work… and as the telephones were cut, there were no communications.
He sent a letter two days ago, by some messenger, saying he wanted the shops, for they belong to him, and he was threatening to use legal methods if we do not go and negotiate with him.
We found this a surrealistic story…..
There was no written agreement between us saying this property belongs to us… and he could rob us, and destroy the whole family…
We remained in bewilderment, for this was the last thing to expect…. This war revealed the vileness in some people's souls, and made it a legal right… our world turned into a jungle, each possessing the opportunity to ravish another…would not hesitate…
What is happening in the world???
I don't get it.
July 1st. – July 5th. , 2003
Negotiations with engineer Nabeel to solve the problem, and condescend the rent contracts and Chamber of Commerce card in our favor… I do not know how he changed his name, but I think Raid had a major role in the matter… Raid always respected him, and used to call him 'Uncle Nabeel'… we visited him often in his house, my sons love his, play with them, and pamper them, because they are much younger than our boys… after that silly message, Raid was so angry, and felt sad because of this shameful conduct, then, by chance, he met Engineer Nabeel at some friend's door, Raid shouted in his face: If you wouldn't give up the contracts, I shall come to your house with my friends, and show you how to reconsider…and I want to come to an understanding with you in front of your wife and children…
It seemed that those words frightened him, and made him give up… Azzam and I refused the idea of threatening him, because we don't want to be scum, like him… but the method of Raid worked…
The man came begging, asked for an amount of money, signed a quitting paper, then withdrew from our lives…
But the blow was severe on us…
Trust in others makes people happy, and gives reassurance, but today we feel a great bitterness, and fear of what will happen latter…
We have to look for another engineer, to join us in carrying the loads of the job, and its problem…where shall we find him in these hard conditions???
The trust is no more, between people….
Monday, July 7th., 2003
We were surprised to find the locks of the shop broken, in the morning; there was an unsuccessful attempt to break into the shop at night… I was much annoyed… nothing like this happened, since we opened up in 1998. I remained tense all morning…and sent someone to buy me new locks…
I felt things were getting much worse by the lack of security, and the absence of a state, the police force, and an army…
Two days ago, a shop nearby us was robbed; it used to sell Satellite Systems… it was found in the morning swept clean of everything. And here are the thieves trying their luck with our shop…
Tuesday, July 8 th., 2003
At about 11 a.m. , in the shop… a relative of Azzam's came to ask for him…it seemed he quarreled with the owner of the building about the new rents, who asked him to evacuate the store building they usually hire from him… I didn't exactly understand what happened, but I saw the building owner come into the shop, and start beating Azzam's relative, so the other employees pushed him outside the shop…into the street. I saw him get mad, he carried a wooden chair and started smashing all the shop windows.…the whole glass front became fragments, the shelves fell to the floor, the filters on them were broken, and I heard the curses and filthy words…you are Palestinians, curse your fathers, and curse Saddam who brought you to Iraq…
Oh, my God, this was the first time ever I heard such malicious talk from an Iraqi against an Arab living in Iraq…there is someone behind nourishing this poisonous speech.
This is a new speech, which we never heard here before…
I watched the whole act coldly, never moving from my seat…I said to my self, he might hit me, or call me names, and filthy words which I wouldn't endure, so I preferred to remain silent.
I called by Intercom, between the shop and our office where Azzam works, and told him quietly: Come quickly to the shop, I have a problem; there is a mad man who attacked us and broke the front window….. In a few moments Azzam came…. The sight of the shop was amazing, as if a hurricane had passed through… the goods were upside down, and things were broken… every thing was clean, tidy, and beautiful a few minutes ago….
Azzam went out, and returned shortly with a few Humvees, and some American soldiers, they looked around, asked a few questions, then apologized that this wasn't their concern, there is a new police station at Yarmouk, go and file a complaint there…that's what they said, then left…
Azzam went out to the police station…
Many customers came along, and they stood and contemplated the sad sight of the shop, they inquired, then sympathized…
I used to tell them: This is the heritage that Saddam Hussein left for us… but today, I do not think that Saddam Hussein alone was the reason, this war, the fall of the state, the absence of authority, all these revealed out the hidden, ugly faces of some people… faces full of evil and hatred, to others, and probably to themselves…. Perhaps evil can prevail and spread in the air, like smoke….
The Iraqi police car came with Azzam, I felt happy, rose up from my seat, and stood looking at them walking on the sidewalk… they brought the aggressor, his head bowed, his hands behind his back…he stood in front of me… I was going to explode in anger. I told him: You do not have the dignity of men; you are a man without honor. Didn't you feel ashamed; didn't you say this is my neighbor, a woman?? How did you allow your self to enter my shop and smash it like a raging bull?? Where did you learn these manners??
I wished I could have spat in his face, but my manners wouldn't let me.
The police car took him away…where he signed an apology paper, and vowed to repair the damages at his cost….
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, July 9-11th., 2003
I didn't go to work… my temper was upset… imagining that animal every now and then, attacking the shop, and breaking it…
Feeling the loss of security is a fearful thing….. It assailed me, giving me a severe distress, and deep silence.
What is happening to us??? Chaos is raking our lives, shattering our unity… we became like strangers, each afraid of the other's betrayal….
Sunday, July 13 th., 2003
The first meeting of the Governing Council.
People are divided…some are optimistic, finding these people the core to establish a new Iraqi state… the others consider them without any legitimacy, as Premer, the civil Governor, appointed them…by the presence of the occupying forces…
I don't know who of us is right…
The coming days will show us more, clearing the picture.
Thursday, July 17 th , 2003
We employed anew person, and we have a new project he shall be responsible for… today he informed me that his car was stolen from the garage yesterday, inside of which there were 10 water purifying systems, for hospitals.
An unconvincing story, suspicions point to the new employee, but we have no evidence.
What is happening to us, mishaps never seem to stop…as if a curse has struck us all…
Tuesday, July 22 nd , 2003
An historic day… a house in Mousel was bombed, in it there were Uday, Qusay and his son…
All three were killed…
Wednesday, Thursday, July 23 nd – 24 th , 2003
Their pictures are all over the newspapers…. I can't believe, no one does… what a terrible end. They say every one's end resembles his own life… yes; their end was cruel and ugly…like their lives.
Who shall learn the lesson? I see people like fools, eating up each other…not caring for the lessons before their eyes.
Friday, July 25 th, 2003
Azzam came from Amman, by land… his face was pale… he said their car was stopped by an armed group, and they robbed his wallet, watch, and wedding ring.
We remained in amazement…what is happening to us??
No one has an explanation….
The occupation forces are filling the streets…but they are useless… why are they here?? What are they doing???
********************************** Sunday, July 27 th, 2003
I read a subtitle on the satellite channels…the assassination of Dr. Muhammad Al-Rawii, in his clinic, in front of his wife and patients, in the evening.
What insolence, what a waste to Iraq.
He was an intelligent, brilliant mind, and a leading character….
He was chairman of the Doctor's Union, the head Dean of Baghdad University….and before all that; he was a close friend of my three, doctor brothers, since their school days… my late mother, GOD bless her soul, used to love him a lot, treating him like one of her own boys...
My heart was wrung in sadness for him, for his wife and three boys. I couldn't go to the funeral… all my brothers and sisters went. I don't know….I preferred to stay away, and be content with my sadness, without seeing his wife and children… for that will increase my pains…and I am ready for no more…
I only went to condole my brother, for he was his childhood friend… I found him pale and broken…I cried, felling the weakness and injustice…but all of us are helpless… there are some new, unknown enemies…surrounding us, destroying our lives… while we are stunned….
August, 1st., 2003
Khalid finished his University exams, and went to work with an Italian, non-governmental Organization, (A Bridge to…..), with Simona Torrita…we all love her, and treat her like one of the family. Raid works with (Civic) organization, doing a count for the Iraqi dead and wounded civilians, they almost finished the task, and he is preparing to establish an Iraqi, non-governmental organization, ( I'IMAR – Renovation), to rebuild the Iraqi civic society, in Baghdad and the southern provinces.
Majid works in the Al-Muwajahaa Newspaper- (Confrontation), and with Raid.
Azzam is always busy working, and traveling…
And I hide at home, after work…reading the Holy Quran, and various books, away from the world, the people, and the daily disaster news.
**********************************Saturday, August 2 nd., 2003
Uday, Qusay and his son, Mustapha, were buried in Tikreet…
The sight was painful, and cruel…but these are the ways of the world… who learns???
Thursday, August 7 th., 2003
A dark, sad day…the disastrous exploding of the Jordanian Embassy… a trapped car was standing in front of it. The dead and wounded are Iraqi civilians…who gets the benefits of such criminal acts???
No one knows….
My youngest sister and her daughters traveled to Amman, fearful of threats… her husband is in Amman…he went for medical treatment, but didn't come back.
I was sad by the separation…but her safety is more important…I will have to be patient…
Tuesday, August 19 th., 2003
The exploding of Al-Qanat Hotel, the United Nations Headquarters, another disaster…and another dark, sad day….
The death of De Melio under the debris…along with 23 people, and another 100 wounded. The dead and wounded are a mixture of Arabs and Foreigners. We cried for them all… putting our hands over our open mouths, in panic and amazement…
What is happening to us?? Where did those criminals come from??? Iraq became the field of confrontations, killings and destruction?? And we are dreaming of building a new country…. What is happening here??? Who is tearing apart our dreams, and making fun of us??
Thursday, August 21 st., 2003
I sit at home after I get back from work, lonely, afraid, and depressed. I have a feeling that the times of joy are finished in our lives…that sorrows and mishaps are falling over us…
Saddam Hussein fell…we thought that evil was eliminated from the world…. But today we see greater evils….
What is happening?? Where are we going to??
Friday, August 29 th., 2003
The exploding of a trapped car in Najaf, and the killing of Ayyatullah Baqir Al-Hakeem…the Shia'at leader… hundreds of Iraqis dead and wounded.
Oh, my God…our live is turning into a nightmare…
We went to Amman… Raid, Salam, and Simona in one car. Khalid, Majid, and I in another.
Amman, quietness, security, and another world….but it’s a world in which I smell forbidding, and estrangement.
I miss Baghdad….and can not forget her…
The boys go out with their friends…and I remain in the apartment, sitting on a chair in the glass balcony…staring at the city streets and buildings, day and evening….
How lovely is the security and quiet….. I wish them to Iraq, and the people of Iraq…
I do feel a deep forbidding, and miss Baghdad…
October, 2003 – till the end of the year…
Raid works with ( I'IMAR) organization…
Khalid and Majid are at school and University…
The rhythm of life is worrying, scary, and gloomy…security dwindles day by day... trapped cars, explosions, and continuous assassinations…. The governing council has no authority to improve the conditions.
The coalition forces roam the streets night and day, but no improvements came to our lives. Things are moving to the worst…. And GOD only knows where we are heading….
Translated by May/ Baghdad.