Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Yesterday was one of our happier moments in the Iraq-USA saga. I blogged about my cousin in law Bilal's murder more than two years ago, and subsequently about his brother A's forced migration out of the country. He's been in the US for two years now, seeking and receiving political asylum. And yesterday, for the first time in two long years, he was reunited with his young family, his wife and 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son who he left as a newborn.

It was wonderful to see them together again, and reminded me of what a tough life this young woman had gone through in the short 22 years of her life. Being a refugee is never an easy thing, even when its to the 'greatest country on earth.' I pray her and her family adjust themselves to this new life, this new language, these new customs and the never ending homesickness for one's family and country.

Life Happens Wherever We Are

Life happens wherever a person lives, at any time, and in all circumstances.

I think I have to write more about my tutoring work when I lived in Baghdad, but till then, here's another sad story i recently learned about the second of my four students (2 out of 4!).

F was my youngest student, a cool Iraqi youth in his mid-twenties who'd learned English during his travels with his family. He had just gotten engaged when I knew him, and had just gone through a tough, tough bit in life, where he'd faced attempted execution by the forces to be and escaped alive with a bullet wound through the neck. While driving to work, he found his car being followed by men who blocked him off, drove up to him and shot at him. He maintained his composure and drove away from his assailants, and alhamdulillah, survived, intact.

I got to know him after this bit in his life, where he was forced to switch jobs b/c of the situation. He was quiet, talked to me about what had happened on the passing. Perhaps he thought I already knew about it, perhaps he thought the entire world must've known what happened to him that day. I was shocked out of my mind, he never even told me where the bullet wound had been, but I learned that later, from my husband, just a few weeks ago when I found out the rest of F's story.

While I was tutoring Firas, he had been interested in taking the TOEFL's and applying for graduate studies elsewhere. That's when I left him.

Four years later, my husband met one of his old colleagues who told him the story of the kid who escaped death in Baghdad, made it to the Sorbonne for his PhD studies and was able to get his family out of Baghdad and into the US on a special visa.

And that's where the rest of the sadness continues. F's mom left her homeland with all its dangers along with the rest of F's family, only to face her own violent death in good ole' New York. Apparently she was at a clinic when a crazy gunman walked in and started shooting. She was one of the casualties. Allah yirhamha and may He give patience to poor F and his mourning family. She came here looking for a better life, but couldn't escape one of America's saddest realities, unexplainable violence.