Friday, January 26, 2007

Who's Next?-UPDATE

It bothers me to constantly report bad news coming out from Baghdad, but that's the harsh reality that people are living through there. Last week, when my husband wrote me about his encounter with a poor corpse in the street, he also informed me of another friend's kidnapping.
This time, my good friend's brother in law was kidnapped from in front of his house in Ghazaliya, with his wife and friend helplessly looking on. Its been almost ten days, with no news of this young man. No news is not good news in Iraq.
I remember seeing his young wife a couple of days before I left Baghdad, with her husband and their new 2 month old daughter, and their older three year old daughter. At that time, she had no idea what was being hidden for her in her future. Now she waits for news, dead or alive of her husband. May God be with her and her family.
Every time something like this hits close to home, it makes me wonder who's next. It makes me hope that God saves my husband and family from such evil and horror. Because in the end, it seems to be such a random game, targeting anyone and anything. You just pray and hope that it doesn't touch you in the center of your heart and home.

UPDATE: The kidnappers have contacted the family, which is a good sign, and are demanding a one million dollar ransom(!). The family obviously doesn't have that kind of money, so they are in the process of negotiating a lower ransom for his life.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Driving in Baghdad

In the last months before I left Baghdad, seeing dead bodies thrown in the street became a regular aspect of life for many people. Thankfully, I was spared this horrific scene. My husband was telling me about his horrible experience the other day, while driving to work. He told me that his driver lost it when he almost ran over the unfortunate soul thrown in the middle of the street, exclaiming that he was leaving this country where a human had no more worth. Here are some of my husband's thoughts on this horrific scene:
"You know you got me is sad that a country can stoop so low so as to not even bother burying its is sad that someone can be stripped of humanity to the degree of killing someone in cold blood and instead of hiding their heinous crime they display it on the streets for all to is sad that we have reached a low where the killer knows not why he killed, and the killed knows not why he was is sad that in the West an animal is given the respect and dignity of being buried whilst a human being is simply dumped in the middle of the road for all to see....the saddest thing is that we have all lost the courage to stand up to the barbarians and say this is wrong. We are therefore all to blame as we drive by all detesting and no one protesting it....

As I drove to work this morning also (a few days after seeing the first body), a body was dumped right in front of (our neighborhood) bakery, his hands bound and a bag placed over his head. This man was probably a father, a son, a husband to someone who will not only not know the fate of their loved one but may not be able to bury them and go visit them in death."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Signs of a Dying City IV

Can't Even Say Good-Bye

I wasn't fully moved by 24's post on a cousin leaving Baghdad until a similar situation happened in our family. Just about the time I was looking for a flight out of Baghdad, I heard the news that Aunt W and her family were leaving Baghdad for Syria. I was shocked by that news.
Aunt W has always been a cornerstone in the family. It was at her house that we spent our first weeks in Baghdad while we were looking for a place of our own; it was at her house that the family gathered for Eid celebrations; it was at her house that we went to chill when we needed a change of pace. She was the one who mainly took care of my grandmother in law, who drove her around, made sure her needs were met. And in early December 2006, we got the call that she had finally had it; they were leaving their beloved homeland and families within a matter of days.
Aunt W lived at the border of Adhamiya/Seleikh. The final straw for them came after the Sadr City car bombings, when the family got numerous calls from friends to leave their home, who feared for their safety against reprisal attacks. Aunt W had already faced having her husband's office damaged by a nearby bomb, had faced having a son arrested by the Iraqi army, had seen numerous friends' husbands and sons disappear and die. The only thing she could think of was being slaughtered in her own home. She could take no more.

What is so significant about this story is two things. First of all, that people who are so settled in their homes, in their lands, are forced to leave is a huge misfortune and hardship. Imagine right now that you have to leave your comfortable, newly furnished house in Anytown, USA because suddenly, it isn't safe to live there anymore. What do you do with your home? You can't sell it for a profit, you can't sell your furniture for a profit; everyone else is leaving town, and no one wants to buy. You end up losing everything, and moving to a new, unknown world, with no friends, no relatives. It's difficult.

The other thing that struck me about Aunt W's leaving is that we could not even say our goodbyes to her. The situation has become so bad in Baghdad, that many people are choosing not to travel to different parts of the city, fearing for their lives. We couldn't hold a farewell party for her, we couldn't even drop by for five minutes of goodbyes. One day, she just up and left Baghdad, after making her phone calls to her sisters, mother, nieces and nephews.
And the same thing happened with me when I left Baghdad. In the summer time, when I came to the States for a visit, I made my rounds to the relatives, for a short goodbye. This time around, when I will likely not go back for a long while, I could not make those rounds. I could not visit our grandmother in Adhamiya to bid her farewell; and I don't know when I will next see her, if I will ever see her again.
The best summary of the situation there was seen in the eyes of my 25 year old cousin in law, who travelled with me by airplane from Iraq to Amman. She has also left the country, to complete her medical studies in Jordan. In the car, on the way to the airport, she sat with her 8 month old daughter in her hands, wiping silent tears from her eyes. She was saying goodbye to her beloved family, and to her beloved Baghdad, which had been so changed by this last war. She did not know when she would next see her Baghdad, and she did not know what it would be like next time she saw it.
Farewell Baghdad, from all your loving countrymen.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Washington Post Article on Childbirth in Iraq

I read this Washington Post article on the childbirth situation in Iraq ("Iraq's Woes are Adding Major Risks to Childbirth"). I thought it was pretty much on the spot, and related very much to my entry from a couple of weeks ago.