Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Riverbend, a blogger

I haven't checked in at Riverbend's blog lately. She's the blogger who had written her life out of Iraq, been nominated for literary prizes, had a book published.

She was the Iraqi voice I watched turn from hope to anger to disillusionment.

I'm glad that she's out.
I hope Syria is kinder to her and her family.

Here's an extract from Riverbend's 6 September post, the last one there at the moment: As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?

2 comments:

V-Grrrl said...

Astounding. Wrenching. Her description of refugees so poignant and spot on.

Most of us have no clue, no idea, no inkling of what some people face daily, what some people lose, what entire generations have lost.

So easy for those of us on the other side to whine, I do it myself and I'm sure I'll do it again. What a luxury to whine about the minor hassles in my life--how easy to forget how lucky I am to have a LIFE to whine about.

Di Mackey said...

I was stunned by it too.

But her last post was back in September ... I wonder how things are now.