Saturday, December 02, 2006

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Scenes from a far-away place that some people say is still not having a civil war.
This link is from Salam Adil. His blog is a blizzard of Iraqi blogging in English. Reports such as this are pouring out of the country day in and day out. It looks like a long post, but it is but the tip of the iceberg. My guess is that the Iraq Study Group would have little of interest to say
to this blogger. Ah, well. I see where the president is also not interested, though for different reasons.

The curfew is over. People are sneaking out of their homes after nights of terror. Streets battles are breaking out in smaller and smaller areas . Every singles area in Baghdad had been engaged in some sort or another of combat the last couple of days; armed men attacking , mortar missiles falling on houses and car bombs . The new buzz is that; people are seeing in different areas of Baghdad, trucks appearing out of nowhere, unloading armed men, who spread in groups and vanish , they even have a name now ( Afghan), whether these armed men are actually Afghanis “which I doubt” or it is just to state that they look strange… , news conflict on that one. May be it is just to make it more spooky, you know it is more terrifying, when you don’t know exactly know who is going to kill you!.

Before the curfew was announced and even before Al Sader city massacre, there was something in their air. All schools in Baghdad had received a direct or indirect threatening ordering them to close down, and kids were sent home.

It is a hopeless situation, the stage now is not to philosophise or anything, the stage we reached is; “just try and find ways to save your own life”. No causes needed here, we have already milked that joke enough; the issue now is consequences and nothing more than consequences.
I too crept this morning to the office quietly. I sat at my desk for about an hour. The Boss was late cause his area was under siege all night long. I waited for a while for the others, who came in one by one.

As I was sitting, Abu S... was in his kitchen chatting to another employee. I was not paying much attention at the beginning, until what they were saying became a bit interesting. Abu S… was saying to the other fellow:
- Do you have a low or a high wall at the back of you house? I mean can you easily jump to your neighbour’s house if necessary ?
- I suppose so.
- Good, that will be the women's escape . As soon as they attack you, get the women to cross over , then you and your brothers and father go upstairs as fast as you can, and shoot down on them from your roof, and remember son ; never ever open the door for them even if they shoot or even if they bombard your garden, don't give them an access .

At that point I sprang out of my chair and went to the kitchen. Abu S... and M … were having their breakfast and drinking tea. Abu S… was standing holding his cup and eating a cheese sandwich, and M… was sitting listening attentively and eating .

Here, I intervened saying :
- Abu S…, my oh my, I've known you long enough, yet this is the first time I see the “General Casey” side of you, what the hell are you teaching the boy !.
- ‘Hello Dear‘, he said slicing some cheese and wrapping it with a piece of bread, handing it over to me .
– ‘ M ...’s area is being attacked daily’, Abu S.. explained, ‘And yesterday his next door neighbour was attacked. The bastards stormed in and the poor man was beaten up in front of his children and wife. Everything was stolen and as if that was not enough they took him away somewhere. I tell you they are taking the whole area in turn. A man has to do what a man has to do, one must fight for his house at least..
- ‘Who are these people? do you have any idea’ I asked M...
- Who cares any more, you see our area has been practically invaded, people driven out, the houses left empty and any one can just break in. My area has been taken over by people who claim to have been driven out from their own houses. And they are forming now the majority and are carrying out raids on the old tenants. It is happening now everywhere.
- ‘And what are you going to do?, I mean besides the D-day plan Abu S... has formulated for you?’, I said smiling at Abu S…
- What is their to do!, I'll move maybe. The whole country is on the run.

I guess it is a matter of time before it will reach every single one of us.

- Why don't you bring your family to my place. Bring them all and I will “ put you all in my eyes-an Iraqi expression, meaning I'll take good care of you and protect you.
- Really I mean it. said Abu S.. sincerely.
- Thank you uncle. but your area is not safer is it ?
- No, but even judgement day with company is a festival, as they say
- the Arabic equivalent of the more the merrier-.- ‘Let's all go to the green zone!’ I jumped between them.
- Oh, yeah, as if they would take the likes of us in. said Abu S… clearing the table.
- You know if they just kick out the government from the green zone, it would all be solved. They will run faster than light speed to England or Iran or wherever and the country will be government-less, which is not so bad don’t you agree? I said picturing a stampede of black turbans, white turbans and suits trying to get on a pick-up truck as fast as they can, before anyone gets to them first, on a background of black smoke, rampaging fires, toppling date palms, and American troops folding the stairs of their giant giant super giant plain just seconds before the pick-up truck reaches there… and me watching from my roof top laughing hysterically and ….. enough of that .
- ‘You bet ‘ they both agreed dreamingly.

After a while I heard Abu S... pals shouting from the street bellow, calling him to come down. I ran to the window next to Abu S… cause I always enjoy these dialogues. I just love it when these old men start .

Abu S… opened the window and looked down at Abu M….
-a shop keeper and a friend of his-, trying to look as serious as possible .

- Why are you shouting, huh ? where do you think you are? at some sort of a market place? , please try to be more civilized.
- Abu S...Habibi = dear, come down and have breakfast with us .
- I said don't yell! people are trying to work here.
- Come on, it will get cold .
- What are you having ?
- Kahi and Kaimar (a rich traditional Iraqi breakfast, consisting of fried puff pastry, rich cream and honey or syrup, most delicious when warm and fresh) I brought it just now .
- ‘No’ , abu S… said capriciously ‘I just had my breakfast.’At this point the rest of his battalion came out; another shop keeper, a carpenter, a photographer and I think a merchant who has an office a block or two away. And they all started to shout to get Abu S… down, a woman smiled as she passed by.
- What did you have? shouted Abu M…
- A cheese sandwich. Replied Abu S… .
- Ah, for the prophet Mohammed’s sake, what are you ?, a sixteen year old school girl or something?. Come down at once and get a man’s breakfast inside you!.Abu S.. considered the issue for a moment and then said Ok

He went down to his friends, I watched them joke and shove Abu S.. inside a shop below us .

Meanwhile I could hear sporadic bullets sounds and explosions coming from far away .
Abu S.. lost his son not long ago , Abu M… had a brother brutalized and killed, one of the other men’s son was wounded and left invalid for life at the tender age of fourteen , another one of the group lost his old father after a shock related to the kidnap of his niece. All that in less than three years, Yet breakfast must go on, as they say.

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