A Night Adventure in Baghdad
The American Army surrounded me on Friday, March 31, in Baghdad, when I was driving back to my house from the office; they searched my car and my body before releasing me.
I left the office one hour before the curfew which was imposed in Baghdad since February, 22, when a big explosion destroyed the tomb of the Askari shrine in Samarra 80 miles north of Baghdad, many angry Shiite, at that time, attacked Sunni mosques, setting fire in some of them, destroying or occupying some others, so to prevent a civil war, the Ministry of Interior imposed this curfew which is effected from 8 pm to 6 am every day.
I was listening to the car radio while I was driving when a song by Kadhum al-Sahir, the Iraqi singer, played ‘Baghdad’, that was the name of the song, and when he reached the part that says, “Baghdad, has God ever created a city like you in the entire world”, I felt that my eyes were full with tears that did not want to leave my eyes, I did not want to go home like this and decided to take the river side road to go back home, which called ‘Abu Nuwas Street’, it lies cross the river from the fortified Green Zone where the government and the US Embassy buildings located.
I entered Abu Nuwas Street which was still filled with many cars driving fast to reach home before the curfew; driving by the concrete blocks that was set by the Americans which kept them safe and destroyed the nice view of this old beautiful street which many Iraqis use to go there before the invasion to enjoy the view of the Tigris River and have some sandwiches or soft drinks while the kids use to play in the parks a long the river shore; of course, not any more, but this is what I was thinking about when I was driving a long the river and when I reached an area at the river bend where I use to stop and have a look to the beautiful view, a ‘crazy’ thought jumped in to my mind and decided to stop there for a few minutes and enjoy the view which I haven’t see for more than three years.
The small red numbers at the digital clock of my car showed that I still have some time before the curfew for this ‘crazy’ thought so I stopped the car by the side of the road while there were many cars parked on the other side, and stepped out of the car to the sidewalk, and when I just put my hand on the rail that keeping the people from going further to the river and while I was looking to the beautiful view of the lights reflecting on the face of the river, I heard some shooting which the Iraqis now get use to it and they never bother them self even to look at the direction of the shooting; I did the same thing and I did not even turn my face from that beautiful view to look at the direction of the shooting; my father told me once in the First Golf War that if I hear the sound of the explosion or the shooting that means I am OK because I will not hear the sound of the bullet or the bomb that will hit me as the speed of the bullet is faster than the speed of sound, so I did not care for that shooting.
Few seconds later I heard another round of shooting but this time it was closer and louder so I had to turn my face and look but when I turned my body toward the direction of the shooting, I saw several red spots on my chest, “Oh no, I know those red spots that comes from the laser beam locater attached to the Americans rifles”, I told my self, my friend M, who knows a lot about guns, told me that before.
My hands rose up in the air, I tried to go back to my car when I heard that loud “Don’t move”, I can swear that even the people at the Green Zone cross the river heard that “Don’t move”, so I stopped there and looked at them and saw many US Military Hummers were stopped in the middle of the street and every one in those Hummers were pointing his gun toward me; the “Don’t move” gave me the feelings that they will not kill me if I do not move so I wanted to be sure that they will not see any movements out of me.
The street deserted suddenly, I do not know where all those cars disappeared, it became so quiet, the only voice I was hearing was coming from a house cross the street that had 4 or 5 Imam Hussein red, and black flags on top of it, you can tell it was a Shiite house from those flags; the voice was coming from that little kid who was telling his family what was going on in the street, “There is a suicide bomber in the street”; I wanted to tell him, “Please do not say that, they might hear you”, but that little bustard kept on reporting to his family, “The Americans stopped him, they will kill him”.
I staid like this for while and the American soldiers staid in their Hummers, my arms get tired being raised like this but I couldn’t lower them; I did not know what they were waiting for and why they did not come to me or do some thing then another Hummers came from the other side of the street and stopped few meters from my car and one of the Hummers moved forward slowly then stopped and a big soldier stepped out of the Hummer and came toward me while the gunman on top of the Hummer was pointing his gun on me; my chest at that time was fill with red spots that was coming from their guns; that kid was still reporting to his family, “They will take him”; The soldier told me to raise up my shirt, so I did and I remembered the Palestinians on Israel that I use to see them on TV in the news when the Israeli Soldiers used to asked them to do the same thing; “What do you have on your side?”, the soldier asked in a loud hoarse voice, “It is a mobile phone”, I replied, “Take it out slowly and put it on the ground”, the soldier said; I did what the soldier wanted me to do, then he came to me and said turn around and face the river (The river that I came here to watch), put your hand to the rail, open your legs; I did all this, and when he was searching my body he asked me if that was my car and I told him yes so he told the other soldiers to search the car and they did.
The soldier went calm when he discovered that I was “clean”, that was the word they used, and he asked me, “What are you doing here, Sir?”, I replied, “Nothing, (I did not know what to tell him, shall I told him it was because of Kadhum al-Sahir song, and whether he will understand this or believe it), so I told him, “I just thought that I can have some fresh air while I am looking at my river in my city”.
Probably, he discovered the sadness in my voice because he just patted on my shoulder and say, “It is OK”, and he said that in a way just like he was feeling sorry for me.
The gunman on top of the Hummer asked that soldier while he was walking back, “What is going on, is he crazy?”
“No, he is cool, he is just a normal citizen”, the soldier replied.
I put my self back in the car and drove back home while I was asking my self why I did some thing like this, it is not the country that any one can do the things they like to do, what if I was killed tonight, who will take care of my family and where they will go, they do not have any one in this life but me…
I should be very careful and I should stay alive for them, they will never be able to live if I will die…
We lost every thing in this country even the freedom to breathe some fresh air; it is not our country any more…
I know about that because,
I was there..