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Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Today's post is on daily life in Iraq. Read moments in the life of an Iraqi blogger, find out the real difference between boys and girls, and learn of the importance of Mutanabbi street… but first my sincere condolences go out to Neurotic Wife whose aunt died recently. She mourned not just for her aunt but for all the others who lost their lives in Iraq. In her words:

When my brother broke the news of my aunt passing away a few weeks back, I went silent for a few seconds. I had to control all the emotions that were going through me at that moment. I didnt wanna break down and cry in the middle of the office. I didnt wanna show my tears to anyone. I kept it hidden deep down inside but the minute I reached my room, a few hours later, I let it all out. I let all my sadness, my anger my frustrations out. I locked the door and hid in the corner and cried. Cried like I havent cried before. I cried so hard that I choked on my tears. I couldnt stop. I guess I didnt wanna stop. I wanted it all out.

I came to realise that this place is unhealthy. Very unhealthy for one's mental health. No matter how much you try to hide it, no matter how much you pretend that you're dealing with the situation as well as anyone, there's a point in time where you just crack. My aunt's death was that small trigger my mind was waiting for, waiting for to break. My words, the words that Id type were empty. I realised that there's nothing I can do to bring back my aunt. There's nothing that I can do to bring back all the good people that lost their lives. Lost their lives because of Iraq. Yes my aunt lost her life because of this place. Had there been good enough doctors to detect the cancer, she wouldnt have ended the way she did. Had my other aunt gotten TB vaccination, she wouldnt have died because of an illness whose cure is widely available in the whole world except Iraq!!! Had my aunt's husband survived his depression of what was going on around him during the first gulf war, he wouldnt have chosen to give up. Yes everyone I ever loved, everyone I ever cherished, everyone who made my childhood memories of this place beautiful, disappeared. Disappeared because of this country. Gone because of Iraq.

If you read no other post this week read this

Condolences in Iraq inevitably comes with morbid stories of the unfortunate deaths of others. But, oddly to comfort the family of the deceased. Marshmallow26 explains:

Most of the comforters use to talk about others tragedies on how they lost their beloved, or how did they barbarously get killed, or tortured before they die or beheaded….The reason of mentioning these real stories is to encourage the family who lost its beloved and to show them that the death of their son/daughter/father/mother,etc was lesser and more kindness than others death…plus, to keep their faith in God, cuz many people blame and question God when they lose someone, and let the devil to misgive and corrupt their minds and hearts about God.

And it works. Her friend, V's father died of a heart attack. V told her the story of one of the condolers..”You won't believe me Marsh!!! It is a disaster !! My dad's death is nothing comparing to those betrayed young men!!!!! I felt like I am condoling that family not them!!!”

The burning of Mutanabbi Street

Bombs explode in Iraq too frequently to distinguish one from the other. But an explosion in Mutanabbi Street last Monday was especially significant. It is said that the Egyptians write and the Iraqis read. And the centre of that reading culture is Mutanabbi street where some of Baghdad's most famous booksellers are based. Iraq Pundit gives us a background to the street:

The poignant image of the wrecked street, with countless bits of burning paper floating down on the stunned residents, reflected an attack not only on Baghdad's people, but on the city's heart and memory as well…

It's certainly true that Mutanabbi Street was once a gathering place for Baghdad's intellectuals. If Cairo is the great city of Arab writers, Baghdad was once the great city of Arab readers, and Mutanabbi Street was where they went to browse the new arrivals, Arab and foreign. … Under the British-imposed monarchy that ruled the newly created Iraq, the city's journalists, poets, and thinkers would gather there to debate the changes that were sweeping across a modernizing and then-optimistic Middle East. By mid-century, the monarchy was gone, and Iraqi poets were advancing a “Free Verse” movement that was revolutionizing Arabic poetry. They too gathered in the street's cafes. But that was before Saddam tried to paralyze the Iraqi mind. Saddam banned many books, and filled Mutanabbi Street with informers.

Treasure of Baghdad mourns its loss with a photo montage and he says, “The Book Market which I spent most of the best times in my childhood, teenage and youth was burned by a car bomb that mixed the blood of readers, buyers and sellers with papers and fire just like Hulago who once burned the Grand Library of Baghdad and threw the books in the Tigris mixing its water with the ink of the books.”

Stories

Chikitita has always been fascinated by books especially those that were banned under Saddam's regime. One she had especially sought after was Macchievelli's The Prince after her friend told her “This is actually Saddam's bible. I've heard everything he is doing is based on whatever this book tells him to do.” The only copies in Iraq were heavily censored. She writes: “Following the invasion, I started hunting high and low for an unedited version, until I got it in 2005. It was funny I could not read it to this day. Not sure why! Maybe because reading it has ceased to be a risky adventure or maybe it read so much like a bad translation. It's been two years since I bought it, it's gathering dust now, and I just cannot feel the urge to touch it.

Few weeks ago I came across a news headline reading, “Man Arrested for Possession of Banned Book”. I immediately im-ed a friend, “Wow they still ban books, welcome to democracy!!!”

Najma went on a picnic with her University class and discovered the essential difference between boys and girls. Prepare yourself for an education:

boys are so different from girls, they know so much poetry, of so many different kinds. I didn't understand most of the Iraqi kind but I enjoyed how fluently they said it.

I wanted to walk a bit with my friend and leave the boys to enjoy their time as they wish, the boys had put their mobile phones and cameras in our purses because they were moving around and playing football…

[Later] They acted the roles of the some of the lecturers, including our Programming lecturer, who obviously so frequently praises me “Excellent Najma, excellent excellent Najma”.. Some of the lecturers have very funny habits I've never noticed and only notice after they talk about it. I concentrate on the lecture so much I rarely find something to laugh at, while the boys can hardly stop themselves from laughing.

Sunshine gives us snapshots of days in her life

I got my marks, my family was very much pleased, but I wasn't happy and my eyes filled with tears , I don't like to take less than 95% in English.. I was really worried about my physic's mark I took 83% one of the highest marks!!!!!
I got 90% in chemistry, 100% in religion, 95% in history , 94% in geography , 91% in biology, , I got 96% in math (I felt upset too, I had 100%) , I got 85% in Arabic the teacher said “very good, Arabic is really difficult , in French I got 90% , the funniest thing is I got 82% in Art ,hahahahahah , we didn't attend any art lesson…

I heard a shocking news , the poor widow who used to clean my class was killed, I feel really sorry for her children, they lost there parents, the cleaner before her was also killed…

I read my 700 E-mails and answered most of them…

My dad had to do some work in a village near Mosul , called Bahsheeka, grandpa , mama , Miriam , Yosif, and I went with him… we had the best time ever , they have a nice farm , the farmers where working in the farm , it was fun to watch. .. grandpa suggested to go to an ancient Der near Bahsheeka, it was gorgeous .. we visited the cave first , then the church , it is name is Der Mar Mattie , and what a fantastic surprise , when we saw scouts there , playing music , then we went inside the church, we visited the monks’ cists , and chaplains’ and read their stories , I saw a monk , I went and asked him the story behind the Der , we talked for a while he told me the history and the story of monk Mattie. We took many pictures , and returned to the house , we had lunch then the electricity came at 4:30 , I was working on the computer and heavy shooting started , mortars fall on the neighborhood, this lasted for an hour, 3 mortars fall in the street , 2 in the street behind our house , and one in front of it.
The situation in the next day wasn't better…

At 1pm , mama and I were in the garden, Mariam was in the back yard garden, Yosif was running he wanted to go to the garden shoeless ,but our uncle catch him in the corridor , Dad ran upstairs to bring Yosif's shoes , grandma was behind the house bringing fuel , uncle's wife was in the living room.
BOOOM , heavy explosion (a fuel tank full with explosives exploded near my house) , my ears were closed !2 seconds later BOOOM again, mama ran and shouted “Mariam” , I was panicked , there was thick smoke everywhere , I shouted while I was running I wanted to reach Miriam :” something fall on our house”, ” mariam , where are you ” I stopped for a while to have a look, the windows were broken , and the glass was falling down on me , I started to cry and shouting “Mariam” , I turned and saw black smoke and blaze I realized that the explosion wasn't inside the house , I entered the house , everyone was alive !!!!! a true miracle…

Who see my house at that time can't believe that we are alive , when dad saw us alive he started to cry.
I was worried to death before I see my family members, I was afraid that they might be injured. I can't thank God enough, mama bought two muttons and allocated the meet among paupers and orphans( that's how we thank Allah (god))
We kept cleaning and removing the debris and glass for 3 days…

Our house is made of bricks, cement, and iron that's why it didn't fell down, nor damaged completely.
Many glass entered my hands and my mom's while we were working, but we are alive that is the most important thing.
Thank god, grandpa wasn't at home, he was in the other side of the city, he take Warfarin tablets, because he recently had a CVA, and this medicine cause bleeding.
I was so tired, I wake up early in the morning and work ALL DAY LONG, without sleeping enough, nor eating well, I lost 6 pounds.
85 innocents were injured, and more than 25 died
May god protect us all

Indeed, may god protect us all.

1 comment

  • Claire

    Extraordinary roundup, Salam.

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