Sunday, March 09, 2008

Babies in Baghdad Part I: A Gun in Every Home

I haven't been blogging in a long time mainly because my life situation has changed. I don't live in Baghdad anymore, and blogging was mainly a means for me to record this surreal life that I was leading and, later, to connect with people outside my Baghdad family. I have since grown to *love* blogging, but I can't get myself to record my thoughts here, b/c they aren't 'thoughts from Baghdad' anymore. But I love the Iraqi blogging world too much to start a whole new blog, so I decided that I'm going to start blogging in retrospect, and just recording any thoughts I might be having, ranging mostly from parenting, to parenting, to the three years I lived in Baghdad. It really is unbelievable how those three relatively 'short' years have come to color my life so much, but they really have.
I lived in Baghdad for three years, post-Saddam, and was a mommy for one of those three years. The other day I was thinking about how much my oldest daughter has grown since those days she was running around our house in Baghdad, getting into cupboards, climbing hard marble stairs with really wide railings, and adjusting to the lights turning on and off every few hours.
And then I remembered something about our home in Baghdad, and I thanked God I was out of that situation. My husband and I slept with a loaded gun near his head every night.
He would come home from work every day, go upstairs, change out of his work clothes, and leave his gun on the headboard of our bed. When Sumy started walking on tables, and eventually walking on her own, I lived in eternal fear of that gun. But guns are a fact of life in Baghdad. Since no law was out there protecting us, we had to take matters into our own hands.
We lived with the fear of militias driving up in the middle of the night to our street and rounding up our men. My husband would stay up on certain nights which were 'high alert' nights, and act like he was reading, when in reality he was keeping his ears open to any unusual activity in our part of the world.
And when he went to work, that loaded gun would go with him, again, to protect him. But he didn't leave me home alone. No he didn't, thoughtful husband of mine. He left another little tiny gun at home with me, as if I would ever use it to protect myself. Man, until now, I'm still freaked out by the thought of those guns. Thank God we never had to use them. Though once in the middle of the night, I couldn't sleep, so I very quietly crept out of our bedroom. And in the act of trying not to open the creaking door too much, I knocked over a mirror, which fell on the marble floor and broke. I guess I freaked the living lights out of my sleeping husband, who later told me he reached for his gun.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day, a friend who is very critical of my husband's presence/work in Baghdad. She told me, "I want to live your husband's life. He's like a Rambo, running around with a gun and bodyguards (he doesn't have bodyguards, but he does have a driver). I was like, 'running around with a gun?! Is that what qualifies him for leading an 'exciting'/Rambo-style life? EVERYONE in Baghdad has a gun in their house, rich or poor. It's just a matter of life, or death...". Unfortunately.
All I can say is, thank God I'm out of a situation where my daughters would have had to live in the same house with guns.

1 comment:

Halla said...

Sad that anyone has to sleep with a gun close by. That is just so wrong!