Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Iraqi Woman

I met an Iraqi woman a few wks back at the gym. It's the first Iraqi that I've met since being in Bahrain. I would never know where a person is from because I can't tell the difference between accents, so maybe I've met other Iraqis and just didn't know it.

Well, I sat down on the bike next to her and we started talking. She's a really nice person, and very smart, well rounded and educated. She's living here w/ her sister and her sister's husband. She works at a hospital and used to work in Dubai prior to coming here. She has short hair which is unusual because most women wear their hair long here.

Every time I meet someone, I tend to get the same questions. No matter if they're an expatriate or an Arab. They all want to know why I'm here, and Arabs usually want to know where I'm from as well.

She was no different and asked me why I was here. I told her that my husband is Bahraini. She smiled and asked me a few more questions. She was different in that she didn't ask me where I was from. But I later remembered that I had told her a few days prior to that, when she asked to see my headset and asked where it was from. That's when I told her that I was from the U.S. and had gotten it there. She has a good memory, unlike ME!

As we talked, she told me that she has been here about the same time as me. I was surprised, so I asked her where she was from. She told me Iraq. I felt a sudden jolt to my system. Fear, anxiety and a tremendous amount of guilt overcame me. She told me about her sister and where she worked and her brother-in-law, and then she told me her mom and dad lived in Iraq. I asked where and she told me Baghdad. I just sat there, dumbfounded pretty much. I told her that I was embarrassed to tell her, but that I was an American. She said she knew that.... obviously she remembered more than lil ole me. Sometimes it can be hard to say you're an American, especially in the Middle East. This was one of those times.

I told her that I was sorry for what was happening there. I asked about her family and found out that her mom and dad are faced w/ fear every day. They live it.... are right in the middle of it. Not only do they have the fear of being killed, she said that they couldn't leave their house because if they did, it would be taken. As soon as you leave, people come in, steal your possessions and/or take over your house. I try to imagine what it must be like... hearing bombs every day, car explosions, killings... so much death.

Her parents can't leave and come to Bahrain because they can't stay here.... a month's visit visa doesn't do you any good when you're faced w/ such misery and could use a permanent spot. I can't imagine her constant pain and heartache. The fear must be tremendous and so hard to deal w/... but she was so calm. Every time I see her, she is calm and seems happy. Some Muslim women have such a peace about them. This is something that really attracted me to Islam... that peace.

I have had my share of seeing hate while living here and, even before coming here, I saw it from Americans and from Arabs living in the States. It's such an ugly thing, hatred.

But this woman, who could have easily hated me for being an American, was so nice to me. She made it easy for me.... and when I think about her and the pain she has, her family has.... I feel such sadness.... there's so much trouble in Iraq. 87 ppl were found dead today w/in a 24 hr. period. Some were in mass graves - they were killed execution style, the article says. This was in Baghdad... where her parents live. Every day there are killings there... too many ppl are dying and for what?

It has escalated to such a degree that I wonder if it'll ever be normal there. Rioting is taking place here in Bahrain... people are angry - really angry - and things are happening. But it's nothing compared to Iraq. Will the people there ever be able to come out of this? There are a lot of really smart ppl out there who know way more than I know on this topic... I just know that it's sad.... for many reasons.

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