This is a translation of the Arabic posted a week ago
In the past, I didn't want to leave Iraq - earlier to February 2006, life was difficult, but in a way, Iraqis got used to it, after my friends were killed, it took on a whole new meaning, and two days after the last friend passed to the world beyond, I heard this story, it was all I needed to know that there is no life for me here anymore.
Had this story told by anyone other than a guy that I know won't talk crap to me, I would have immediately called it off as typical Iraqi exaggeration one way or the other, Omar may have exaggerted as some point or the other - as it simply involves pretty much everything and everyone you see on TV - and much, much more! You are probably so bored of individual Iraqi death stories by now but this one simply crosses the Rambo line.
WARNING: This story has a happy ending.
An oddyssey normally refers to the mythical trip undertaken by Odysseus in ancient Greek literature, where he encounters strange beings and nameless creatures on his way back home. The following real-life story has been narrated to me by a friend of mine, Omar, one hot morning in Baghdad, and if it doesn't qualify as an honest-to-Homer Oddyssey, I don't know what does.
Omar is my Kia driver, he is my age, but have dropped out of high school midway through and started a carrier as a plumber, before buying a Kia and starting this 'line'. He is mentioned earlier in my blog, in this post. Omar is a streetwise kind of guy, but in the same time he is such a sweet lad, despite his constant swearing and sun-burned tan that suggests back-alleys, his green eyes betary a niceity which I have seen very little of these days.
One day, Omar's mother, his sisters, and two younger brothers (one born 1987, the other 1990) were all taking a taxicab from now-infamous Adhamiya, unfortunately, the taxi dude turned out to be a chewer, (i.e. a person who's connected to a criminal organization one way or the other, the traditional menaing of chewer indicates the middle man between regular people eligible for kidnap and murder, and the interested gangs) The Chewer delievered them to their Grandfather's house safe, but, perhaps on knowning that they are Sunni in someway, or perhaps of something they might have said, the guy returned with 3 pick-up trucks, broke the door and took the two boys away.
Omar wasn't around at the time, his mother called him weeping and sobbing, after knowning what has occured, he hurried back home, took a Shiite friend of his, who we shall call Salim, and went as fast as he could to an area in Baghdad now known as The Presidential, where a Sadr office is located. By the time he undertook this quest, the time was 9:00 pm, way past the curfew, he was stopped by several checkpoints, frenzily explaining his story he would be let go by the soldiers, at one point he asked them for help, but whenver the words 'militia' was heard, faces would recoil in fear and he would just be let through.
Upon reaching the presidential area, Omar lost his grip and his friend Salim took over driving, the area was barren and empty, like all of Baghdad, after roaming around for a few blocks lost they found a drunk guy, who answered in a drunk, overconfident "Hell, yeah! Sure I know where the office is!!!" They picked him up, and despite his drunk incongruence, he sure knew where the office is. However, The office was just as desolate and unhospitable as everything else is.
At this particular moment, Omar's frustration bubbled to the surface, and he let loose in massive frantic that cursed all the Shiites on the face of the earth, he kept on screaming, yelling and shouting until the glorious pick-up trucks came back to the office, and beat them inside it. Omar and Salim took a few cables, but the militiamen beat the shit out of the drunk guy, while on duty, in sync with the religious ideology of the Mahdi's army - they assume a very hostile tone to alcohol. That done, Omar and Salim were separated for questioning.
-What's your name?
-Omar. he gave that up, cuz they already looked in his ID
-You Sunni or Shiite?
-Shiite (cable slashes across his body)
-Don't talk shit to me now.
-What brought you here?
Omar told him his whole story, the tale was filled with joyful intermissions exercised by the investigator on Omar's thin, frail body. After the investigator got tired, they brought Salim, who looked like he's been treated with a similar reception, and then shortly afterwards came the Sayyid.
Sayyid is the 'religious authority' in the office, he's the guy with the turban, all militiamen cowered in respect, he asked the two about their names, and then quickly issued his verdict. "Those people are terrorists, go to Sadda and kill them very well."
Man: What is your name?
Omar's youngest bro: Mazin
Man: Are you a Salafi (Wahhabi)?
Mazin : No.
Man: Do you love Ali?
Man: Curse Omar.
Mazin: (curses Omar)
Man: Tell me what you know about the 'brave resistance'?
Mazin: I don't know anything....
(Man falls with a sledgehammer deep on Mazin's fingernails....a horrible shriek comes from Mazin, as broken nails are driven deep inside his own flesh in a mess of blood.)
Man (laughing): Good. The Mujahideen has taught you not to speak.
Afterwards, Mazin has heard the name of that man, when Omar told it to me, it was the first time I ever heard of it, but I would hear it countless and countless times after that.
The man's name was Abu Dera'.
The executioner took the two unfortunate men and hurled them inside Omar's own minivan (Kia), they were blindfolded, he switched the ignition, and the car was filled with Hussam al-Russam's Iraqi party music, he quickly turned it off and murmuered in anger, and the car now headed to Sadda. Sadda is an area in Sadr City that serves as the execution ground for the Mahdi's army, Omar has now gone from crumbling despair through unflinching anger into silent oblivion. But his friend Salim kept talking to the man every now and then.
-Sir, where are we going.
-How long yet?
-Sir, are you going to kill us?
The sir didn't answer, and his silence soon grew until it horribly engulfed the whole car, Omar became certain of his destiny at that moment, and he began reciting the Shahadas (couplets recited by Muslims upon death) as quickly and repeatedly as possible, he said that all he was thinking about at that particulalr moment of time was how his mother has wound up with losing all her sons together, he just wanted to have once last chance to see her and tell her goodbye.
The car reached the Saddah, the man descended and took the two silent boys to the ground, he took his gun out, reloaded....and then his mobile rang out. The caller ordered the man to stop the execution but continue routine investigation. It seems that Salim's father has connections, and his connections worked at just the right time.
As I told Omar, and as Iraqis normally would say, Omar has "the luck of bitches."
They were transferred from in various cars afterwards, until finally reaching an air-conditioned prison, the drunk man was reinstated in the shithouse, though.
After a merciful investigation that didn't involve attempts to connect coaxial cables with Omar's asshole, a man came smiling sociably and said: "Amoori, we apologize, you're free to go."
"What about my brothers?"
"They are doing well and alive in Sadr City. Don't worry, they will return soon."
For the first time that night, Omar exhaled.
Omar and Salim came out at 3 AM, like wet dogs in the rain, they rode Omar's Kia and proceeded down the road, but no sooner than they had crossed a few blocks that a swarm of bullets was being fired at them by local generator guards who mistook them for thieves. Omar pointed to the side of his Kia and sure enough, a nice line of holes decorated the side of the dark purple van. After they were well out of the way, they were met by, lo and behold, the old bandits of the streets! the average carjackers...four Opels flashed their headlights in the distance before Omar managed to use his experience as a Kia driver and dodge them around some side-streets, eventually ditching the car in some dump and spending the night at a friend's house.
Omar arrived in his house in Adhamiya the next day, to find that 2 brothers have already arrived before him, the older one wasn't tortured much, they only used his face as an ashtray, putting them out on his mouth, cheeks, nose and eyelids....but the youngest.....
the youngest was another story, a horror story, Abu Der'a's sledgehammer has made good memories out of his fingernails, and had transformed his knee-joints "Soaps, in Arabic" into actual soaps. His back was filled with light drill marks here and there....and whatever was left of him was filled with all sorts of mischief. He was immediately transported to Adhamiya's major hospital, al-Numan.
By noon, Omar's modest household was filled with all sorts of people - family relatives, friends and other people....soon, a group of men who Omar described as "al-Mujahideen" came smiling and tender, Omar's voice beamed with pride as he talked of the way one of them, upon wrapping up their diplomatic mission, swore to Omar that they'd make them pay back by 'hijacking a bus of Shiites.'
"But, but, is that right?" I said to Omar in a low voice that came from the depths of some unrealistic pool that felt like an obligation, a laughable imitation of the corny, fake stuff they put on television.
"You're right, sure sure...I even told them so..." Omar's voice was just as dead.
NOTE: This story is happy, because nobody is killed - that's how far can a story be considered 'happy' in Iraq.