Not too long ago, I was barraged with questions of how it felt to witness the fourth invasion anniversary. I usually greet dates to be marked and fanfare studded anniversaries with indifference - it is the event that counts not when it occurred. I kept racking my brain and fumbling for answers until it dawned on me that on April 9, 2003, I did not know it was April 9. I had no calendar at the time. Besides, I was more drawn into buying the reports of former Minister of Culture and Media than the BBC, Radio Monte Carlo or Radio Sawa’s, which means I did not believe Iraq was officially occupied until I saw US Marines walking past my house to corroborate what I had heard through the grapevine. More importantly, all my life I have been bracing myself to the prophecies that all Iraqis would eventually die of cancer, depression, rage, smart and stupid bombs, torture chambers, fear, helplessness, depleted uranium, poverty, anemia, wailing sirens, to name but a few and Saddam would be the last to leave this world. I have always had this mental picture of a pile of dust and rubble with him on top, inspired by the eternal words that were ascribed to his Excellency “I won’t step down until I reduce Iraq to a pile of dust.”
The mention of “The Fourth Year” intrigued me to do some math to see how many years we have left to beat the Lebanon, Algeria and Serbia experiences, which are strikingly similar to ours. I sulked at the fact that if the post February 22nd madness is really a civil war, it means we have only just begun.
I tried to remember how I reacted after I finally came to terms with the fact that this time was no game. What I did was I took a broom and decided to sweep the Sahara-like rooftop, not a single thought in my mind until I caught a glimpse of an old man in dishdasha with a hump and a cane. A flood of scenarios started to brew in my head, “What if this man is none other than the ousted President who is believed to be wandering around Baghdad in disguise?” Still sweeping, I kept following him with my eyes and thinking of what I needed to say to him ages ago.
Mr. Hussein tops the list of the five men - including three US Presidents - I have wished they could just shut up for once in their lives and listen to me as I let them have it. I had countless questions in my mind at the time, to which, to this day, I cannot find good answers.
We had a nice imaginary conversation, which was a very good way to vent my anger and concluded with me having the last word, “Mr. President, it was good riddance if you ask me!”
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