Friday, July 17, 2009

she don’t believe in shooting stars…she don't believe in shoes and cars either

“Wallah. I’ve been tired. Losing my hair. 2006—that was the worst year. Ever since they kidnapped my brother, three years and a month ago, I have been really tired. I just want to know if he is dead or alive…” Shedha, our beautiful neighbor with an uncanny resemblance to Liv Tyler, chatted with me over tea. “You know that the day he was kidnapped was the same day that they pulled the bullet out of me.”
“You didn’t know? The refrigerator saved my life. I was sitting here, in this same place, waiting for my husband to come home. A bullet came through the gate, wall, and refrigerator into my stomach. I thought I was stung or bit—I was not sure what had happened. I looked down to see blood—a trail of blood from my waist to the floor.”
I stood in shock while Shedha ran upstairs. She came back down and dropped a bullet in my hand. Heavy and cold with scratched edges, the bullet’s tip was deformed. “I haven’t been able to throw it away. They traced it and it wasn’t American. No, this was a bullet by a fellow Iraqi. There are animals. Back in 2006, sectarian violence was high. They came to our neighborhood and paid attention to the mosques we would attend and decipher our sects. They didn’t like what I was and they shot me.” She continued, “that was the same year that they burnt our house you know.”
“Our house was burnt. That’s why I am living here with my in-laws. My brother’s room was the only room that didn’t burn, I think that’s why he was kidnapped.” By then, I realized that she had been speaking of the other sect. “Layla, Baghdad was never like this. Sunni, Shia, all. We were Iraqi. Boys did not have to walk the streets with two identification cards, one Sunni and one Shia, in order to save their own lives. But it has gotten better. Much better.”

It seems like with every cup of tea, regardless of who I am sitting with, there is a story. A life that has been ruined.

My aunt asked me if I was still collecting money for orphans, as I had been doing in high school, as she knew of a house for children of war. I had an epiphany; a week ago, life's biggest problem was forgetting my bedazzled shades while working out in a 34th-storey Dubai gym—the blinged out buildings can be harsh on the eyes under the desert sun. I couldn’t be happier to be back in Baghdad.

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  1. Was that after the Samara Mosque bombing that happened that Feb?

    I was in Baghdad, Rusafa at the time.

  2. This all happened in 2006, what was supposed to have been Baghdad's most violent year. How long have you been there?