We Don't Talk About It. Part One
We Don't Talk About It (Part I of III)
By the time I was 11 years old, I had witnessed my father being imprisoned, Basra being bombed by the Iran Air Force, burying my uncle who was my role model, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds in the North played on T.V, the Shiite uprising, the Gulf War, refugee camp riots, and the constant fear of being gassed and being spied on by the crime police.
The things I witnessed taught me how to negotiate through life and I never really had a childhood. I never had family vacations, a favorite toy or memories of easy days just relaxing. It wasn’t until I was 11 that I had some semblance of normalcy in moving to Nebraska and being in school. These experiences are ingrained in me and I don’t think any therapist or psychologist can ever relate to what I witnessed as a child.
I witnessed the toll it took on my family over the years and the loss of my immediate family. I remember that one of my uncles (dad’s brother) used my parent’s one-bedroom apartment as a weapon’s depot during the uprising in Southern Iraq and stashed supplies to fight off Saddam’s regime.
At 7-years old, I witnessed the fall of my district. My first interaction with the Iraqi army shaped my image of their brutality. One of the soldiers kicked me in my chest, breaking my ribs and reshaping my rib cage. I never could get my ribs set and live with a crooked rib until today.
I remember leaving town with my mom and my siblings after we had left the city for bombardment. I remember it was pouring rain and we walked out into wilderness. No one knew where to go, and we stayed there two nights. We slept outside in the rain, no tents or shelter, just right on the ground. I remember hearing people crying all night. We could see our city getting bombed, with the night sky lighting up with the bombs blasting in the distance.