As I mentioned in my previous post, since arriving in Baghdad after a three and a half month hiatus, I've noticed that things have changed for the worse in so many way. Everyday you hear sooo many stories of people murdered and kidnapped and forced out of their homes, and you see signs of a dying city.
One of those sad stories is that of our neighbors who I reported were kidnapped two weeks ago from the computer store they work in in the Sina'a district. I visited the family when I got here last week to give them some support. It turns out, things are much worse than I knew. Not only were their two sons kidnapped, but their daughter's husband was taken along with the two brothers. Their 27 year old daughter is staying with her parents now, along with her 14 month old baby boy, also awaiting news of her husband's fate.
Sadly, the family has not yet heard ANYTHING from the kidnappers. That usually means the worst in the kidnapping game. It's been two weeks, with no one asking for a ransom or a demand to be met. Allah yustur. During the family visit, I was shaken by how the boys' parents were almost talking of them as if they expected the worst. The mother was quite patient, and kind, asking about how my daughter and I were doing, even managing a smile here and there. But she mentioned how she believed in God, but such an end for her sons, who she bore and gave birth to, and raised and watched marry, was so difficult. I saw the father's usually cheerful face, still attempting that cheerinees, but with a horrific look of one who has seen death, and who has been searching for his sons' bodies. In fact, he has been making his rounds in the past days to hospitals and medical examiners' offices, looking for his sons bodies. How heavy and difficult, to say the least. I really did see the look of horror on his face, more so than his wife; a heavy look, so strange on his usually kind face. One of the pregnant daughters in law was there as well, with her tear streaked face, and puffy eyes. The other daughter in law could not stand living with her husband's memories all around her, and is staying at her parents' house.
Four of the men who were taken were let go, with no 'strings attached' except that they keep their mouthes shut about all that had happened to them, or fear for their life. They were not involved in the store's running, as the boys' mother told me; one a janitor, the other a customer, etc. And they are hiding out in their homes, refusing to speak to anyone, refusing to give details of what they went through, scared to help out the poor families awaiting news of their loved ones.
This is how my street now looks: one house with a young father murdered about two months ago, the next house with three kidnapped sons, the next house with a father who has to watch his every move because of his political position, and the fourth house with a son in law who was kidnapped and let go for a ransom payment of $30,000.
Sadly, looking more and more like a typical neighborhood in Baghdad.