- Posted February 5, 2013 by
Long Island City, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Memories of Iraq Wars, an Unusual Story
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
It brings me to tears when my earliest memory as a child is a vivid image of my family, trying to seek a safe place during a bombing of Baghdad in mid 80s.
"Knowledge is power" was the message my parents passed to us. No politics allowed in Saddam Husain's Iraq. The penalties are beyond our abilities. People may disappear and their families get tortured if you seek that road. I remember secretly exchanging ideas of change with a close friend and even worry if something leaks to anyone at school, which can put our families at a great danger.
It was not unusual to see tanks where we lived, a middle class ancient neighborhood at the shores of the Tigris. We lived our days with uncertainty and helplessness. The only shining experience was Baghdad College, a highly rigorous school established in 1920s by the Bostonian Jesuits for Iraqi students of all backgrounds and religions. We were all equal no matter where we came from and your evaluation is a reflection of your hard work. Can we learn from that? So we can build a better future? I am not sure if that will happen in the "New Iraq".
We were displaced during the 1991 war, to the southern city of Hilla, thinking it would be safe to seek a refuge at our relative's house. On a cold winter dawn, the coalition bombed the area we were at. The windows were shattering left and right and loud noises were coming from each direction. Thankfully it ended with safety but the future won't be ours if we stay. That's when we started planning to leave the country.
We spent years between countries, treated by many as an icon of that regime despite the irony that we suffered from it. My family with its small size was scattered over three continents. We couldn't enjoy a family time, children's were born and other grew up while we were separated. A decade passed before we were able to sit again as a family on one table. Shortly after my arrival to New York, The US and the coalition decided to invade my country. I felt that I am back to the same situation that brought me here! I cannot say anything because things can be misinterpreted. I hear people talk and make comments of how my country is underdeveloped and they don't know the history and the culture of the cradle of civilization. The authorities interviewed each Iraqi during that period asking if we knew where Saddam is?! I am not sure why I would know? Especially I left the country years back? Yet, the end of it was emotional! I never thought that I would see the dictator's sculpture being toppled at the heart of Baghdad and that image brought hope with it.
For every re-organization there is a period of disorganization. A simple principle I believe in. that's why I thought there would be hope despite the power vacuum this war created. But each year I see the situation getting worse, which makes me fear of what is coming, if the parties involved don't compromise. I stopped watching the news because I felt that every week I hear another massacre and I am helpless. Some even started to say, "Saddam era was better"! A principle I disagree with. My hopes and prayers are for my birthplace for a safe, prosperous end to this situation.
And I hope that we learn from the model of Baghdad College for a better future and only hard work is rewarded no matter where or what you are.