Life In Fear … The Heavy Toll Iraqis Pay Daily

Tuesday 15 December 202003:50 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

الحياة هي كيف تشعر بالخوف في بلدك

It clings to me like a lost child, nameless and with no identity, filling all of my heart. Sometimes I would pity it and give everything I have to hold it close; sadly, I have never had the chance of parting with it.

Fear has haunted me like a shadow from the first moments of war. It took the form of a wayward missile, as if wanting to play hide-and-seek with us, once exploding in our street, and once in a nearby house. It quickly matured when we fled to hide in my grandfather's house, but I confronted it sternly when my uncle was martyred; and I was able to carry a charred piece the size of my palm to place it in his grave.

“Have you noticed? I am afraid of everything...”

I wanted to acquire strength from this loss. I took it in slowly and made it wait at the edges of my room for some time after my uncle was killed. Let’s just say that I forgot about its presence in my life, and it turned into something like blinking, involuntary and unnoticed. Imagine that my classmate in middle school fell from a silent bullet right in front of us and drowned in a pool of ​​her blood, and I felt nothing but endless shock. The next day I witnessed a pack of dogs converged to devour the body of a janitor who had been killed. I drove the dogs away, and then went on to my school. My God what is this!

I could feel it at times, from the sounds of explosions or when my father was late to return home. Even when I was forced to wear a headscarf under duress, I felt some dread mixed with laughter at my appearance. At the time, I did not own any long-sleeved shirts, so my look wearing a headscarf and a short sleeved top was a very funny thing to see. But all in all, I did not spare much thought to the idea of coming across a dead person on my way after that, and my heart did not fear seeing blood flowing between the school’s classrooms. Days were spent amidst whizzing bullets, but we barely felt their heat.

I could feel it when I was forced to wear a headscarf, I felt some dread mixed with laughter at my appearance. At the time, I did not own any short-sleeved shirts, wearing a headscarf with a short-sleeved top was funny

Do the days seem more difficult when we are afraid, or do they seem easier as time passes? Perhaps it will grow and keep growing to fill the breadth of your very soul, something that you still cannot face years later? I say this because I was able to emerge from those wars victorious with defeat, and indifferent to fear. I still experience it nowadays, relentlessly, in all its details, but how and why? I was supposed to have grown up or at least look older, since the more we mature every year in this country of slaughter and death, the more we become immune from normal human traits, most important of which is fear of course. That is, I have to be stronger and laugh when I hear the sound of an explosion or see a passing missile from the balcony of my room. So why did I become more afraid?

Today my fear has grown and branched out into tiny branches that feed from my soul. I have become truly afraid of breaking news and the recurrent killing of protesters. I am very afraid of the killing and destruction of dreams, and seeing mothers' faces as they rush to embrace the remains of their sons. I fear political decisions and the conversations of politicians. I even fear news of someone’s death in a certain country, since surely and without a doubt, my country will bear the consequences. I am afraid of going out with my friends; most of our conversations would be about immigration, and the thought of ​​saying goodbye hurts. I fear for my family and the ones I love in such a monotonous, boring and automatic way, so much so that a call from them makes my heart beat faster.

I fear the gathering of many military cars together; they remind me that I live in one big prison. I fear seeing a beggar on the streets; I would think of his miserable life which made him beg tears and money. I would even think of the soldier who exercises his military control but has not seen his wife's face for weeks, and oh, how terrifying it is to me the idea of ​​a project still in progress. I am afraid it will not be completed and only remain scattered bricks, just like the mosque that has been struggling with construction for seventeen years opposite my place of study. I also think of the garbage that will one day become mountains and engulf us all. I fear winter and its rain that seems like a curse that has been cast on us. I even fear summer which provides us with free insomnia. Have you noticed? I am afraid of everything...

Today my fear has grown and branched: I have become afraid of breaking news and the recurrent killing of protesters. I am afraid of the killing and destruction of dreams, and seeing mothers' faces as they rush to embrace the remains of their sons

Sometimes I feel that the child of fear that I had one day left in the war grew up, and when I let him in again, he had already lived off my life and enlarged. Life is how you feel fear in your country. I don’t know if someone thought of fear in his country or even sensed its progress. Oh, how fatal and terrifying the whole thing seems. I feel exhausted and, as Khaled Hosseini put it, "What is the chance of seeing something that has not been tainted yet?"

What has remained pure in which I can feel in peace and serenity? Even if it was a sidewalk that gives me reassurance, I would live there in eternal gratefulness. However, park sidewalks may also look terrifying in some instances.

The question is, why are we afraid and from whom? I am actually afraid of everything other than myself, and I sometimes even fear that. Here, things seem more difficult; a person who is not afraid of himself should probably not be count on. Fear became graver, the ‘fear of loss’, not ‘losing’ itself. I win the fear, but my greatest fear by far is losing patience with this country and fleeing, escaping with my fear, to another safety and reality.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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