Iraqi teen shares her diary of war
In an Iraqi teenager's youthful hand, Amal wrote her war diary, committing to the pages of her orange journal the emotions of a family at Baghdad's ground zero.Skip to next paragraph
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Recording conflict has moved writers since Homer and Thucydides preserved the stories of the Trojan and Peloponnesian wars. Such epic proportion may not invest the trials of the family of Karima Selman Methboub - mother of Amal and seven other children - whom the Monitor first met last winter.
But the pages of Amal's diary provide an often poetic window into how ordinary Iraqis are coping with extraordinary upheaval: First as the target of a superpower's military might; then as witnesses to the collapse, after a generation in power, of Saddam Hussein.
Amal's diary - often written by lamplight using the floor as a table - charts how some Iraqis' thinking has been transformed in a month.
The pony-tailed 14-year-old interjects her tale with appeals to a higher authority for protection.
As the bombs fall, "Bush's missiles" are the enemy and US forces are to be feared.
None in this family would have thought then that the twin girls Duha and Hibba, 11, would soon be trading friendly notes with US troops.
The twins blush when they show two scraps of paper. One says "soldier" in a bold hand. The other says "Travis." Beside the name, Hibba had written in spidery letters: "I love you."
"In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate."
My name is Amal. I have a happy family of nine: Three brothers Ali, Mohamed and Mahmoud (3rd grade )... and sisters Fatima (16 years), Zeinab (9th grade), and twins Duha and Hibba (5th grade).
I am very proud of my mother, because she is a great person, she works and works, and brings us food because my father died ... in 1996 in a car accident.
We don't want war on Iraq, the country of civilization and prophets. War is torment. Mother is crying because of her fear for us. War takes away the people we love.
We prepare by filling water buckets in case there is no water or electricity. Duha and Hibba pray God Almighty that there will be no war. At 8:30, my mother made bread. Bakeries close during the war.
At 7 a.m., I went to school with Zeinab, and we found no more than 10 girls. Families are afraid, and no one knows where they will go during the war.
Hibba and Duha went to school. It was noon, [but] they came back at 12:30 and said there was no one in school. We children have no fault to die because of war. People say tonight is war at 1 a.m.
We woke up at 7 a.m., cleaned the apartment, had breakfast, and sat talking about the war. Duha and Hibba prayed and recited from the Koran for the sake of peace. We ... like peace and refuse war.
People are crying not just because of war, but also because of hunger. An egg is 200 dinars [eight cents]; bread is expensive. Everything is expensive....
At 4 a.m., Bush started bombing. My mother cried "Fatima! Fatima, wake up! The war has started!"
Mahmoud woke up and is so afraid. Duha and Hibba are ... hoping for the morning to come. Why is Bush bombing us. Don't you have any mercy in your heart for children?
Now it is 6 a.m. and [neighbors] Um Saif and Um Noor come over to the house very afraid, and in tears. It was calm at 12:30 p.m. [We] went to the market, and found only a few groceries. We came home ... cut the cheese in slices, drank tea, and started talking about war. Mother asked: "Is Bush intending to bomb us today?" [The twins] said "God willing, he won't."
The electricity was out, so we went to our mother's friend Um Jalal. On the way back to our house, the siren sounded again and we were very frightened and tried to run as fast as we can back home saying, "God save us!" At 9:15 p.m., the bombing was intense, close to our home.
Now I am sitting in the corridor in front of our apartment with my sisters and mother. The sound of bombing is getting stronger and stronger.... Then it turns quiet again ... and we don't know when Bush's storm hits again. Fatima thinks that we are living and dying at the same time, but how long will it be like this?