News and opinions on situation in Iraq
7/12/04 So much loss… by Dahr Jamail

** Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches **
** **

Last weekend alone, over 70 Iraqis were killed in violence around their country. Yet these are only those reported as a result of spectacular, “newsworthy” incidents like car bombs or clashes between the resistance and occupation forces.

Iraqis are dying everyday from other things, like violent crime, kidnappings where families can’t afford to pay the ransom, stray bullets…

It’s all too easy to lose sight of what this means by looking only at the macro headlines; 32 Iraqis killed by a car bomb, 8 Iraqi Police killed when Police Station stormed, etc.

The numbers don’t tell the story of families the dead are leaving behind.

There are no words to describe the sadness, nor the hopelessness felt, when meeting with a family left behind when their 30 year-old father was shot by US forces this past Fall.

In a small, one room house in Sadr City lives Sua’ad, a widow of 8 young children

“I can do nothing but look at my children and cry,” she says while weeping throughout the interview, “What are children to do without their father? A mother can care for them, but it will be different. No matter what I do, it will be different. Sometimes I need my husband for small things, and when he’s not there I just want to cry.”

Her husband, Abdulla Rahman, was killed when caught in the crossfire between occupation forces and the Mehdi Army.

She describes the day her husband was killed. US forces were attacking fighters in the area of Sadr City where they lived.

“His last day he worked his job of selling used clothing,” she said quietly. Abdulla had come home for his break to eat with his family. He played with his 7 year-old son, then went outside to see what was happening when fighting broke out.

He returned shortly thereafter to tell Sua’ad he needed to go close his small shop. Roaring jets thundered overhead as bombs dropped, and small arms fire was audible down the street.

“His shop is all we have,” explained Sua’ad, “I asked him not to go, but he said he would be right back.”

But her husband never came back home…

“Some men told me he had been wounded, but when I found him at the head of the street he was dead,” she said softly while weeping.

Abbas, a 17 year-old neighbor hobbles in on his new crutches One of his legs was amputated because of wounds received from a cluster bomb that fell near his home.

Sua’ad’s oldest child, Ahmed is just 14 years old. Their small house in the sprawling slum of Baghdad is nearly empty. Aside from infrequent handouts from neighbors, they have no income.

“He was our father, and we are needing him so much,” she explains while holding her arms out while a small child sits in her lap, “His house needs many things. His children need many things. They are children. He was like my mother and my father and everything in my life.”

She pauses to catch her breath. She never stops weeping.

“We are living alone now. I have four children with asthma. Sometimes they can’t breathe and I can do nothing for them. All I do is stand with them and cry,” she explains, “He was helping me by taking them to the hospital and bringing the medicines, but now I am knocking on the doors of the neighbors. Now we are really needing him.”

She looks outside as tears run down her cheeks. Remembering him, she continues while staring out the window…

“He sacrificed everything for his children,” she says softly, “This happens for all the good people in the world, not just me.”

Her grief is mixed with anger towards the occupiers of her country…

“What can I say for the Americans? God will have the revenge for me. Now I have 8 orphans, and I am the 9th. As they make us orphans, God is going to kick them out of our country. All of these young men have been killed for nothing. They killed them but they did nothing wrong. My husband did nothing.”

She sits in silence. The room is quiet, aside from one of her baby who is crying in the next room.

Sua’ad offers food, but it is time to go.

She walks to the front gate as we leave.

I look back once more.

She is still weeping.

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(c)2004 Dahr Jamail.
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