Tuesday, December 30, 2003

A foggy road.

I had to go to Al-Kut governerate to get my salary. I live and work in Baghdad but I have to get my salary from Al-Kut because I'm registered as one of the staff there before being assigned to work and finish my higher study in Baghdad! one of the beauties we inherited from Saddam times, and still our ministries lack the initiative to change without instructions from higher authorities! no one dares to make a change until they get a documented order, even if the decisions were made at Saddams time and are obviously stupid and against the simple citizens rights.
I took a cap with 3 other passengers, 2 old men(hajjies) and an old woman(hijjieah) . The cost was 2500 Iraqi dinars, approximately 1.5 $ a person. Al-Kut is about 170 km to the south of Baghdad. we took the highway at dawn and there was a very heavy fog limiting the visual field to something between20-50m sometimes which made the driver disturbed and started cursing his luck and the bad situations; the electricity, the gasoline, the kerosene...etc. the other passengers joined. I told him that we have to be a little bit patient as I see things improving slowly. the driver a middle age man remarked" ok it's only 2 days and everything will improve"
"2 days? why?" I inquired. I wanted to stay neutral to know as many as possible average Iraqis think.
"al-saied(referring to the secretary of the SCIRI)period as head of the GC would come to an end then"
"so? what has that got to do with the current events?" I asked
"listen uncle( a word the common Iraqis use when they address a stranger); I'm a Muslim sheiat and a religious man but I don't want those clergy to rule"
"why? I think said Abdul Aziz is a good man" I didn't want to agree as I wanted to know his thoughts.
"good or bad they proved to be useless in politics and managing the country, I would prefer Al-Chalabi to them" he continued "do you believe Al- saied is saying that we should pay Iran compensations to the war? Is this the time for such hierocracy? when the US and the other members of the GC try to convince the world to lower Iraqi debts and contribute to rebuilding Iraq? Does he think that it's his money or did he inherit it from his father?"
I couldn't but agree but added "not all Islamic parties are this bad. Look at Ibrahim Al-Jaafari(the head of al-daaoa party), he is a very moderate and honorable man" he agreed.
"I would rather prefer we get Saddam back!" the old woman said. "NO HIJJIEA!!" all cried at the same time. the driver added" I would rather have Sharoon than Sadaam"
Then he said" you know who I would really like to be the next president? This man" and handed me a newspaper with Paul Bremer picture on the front page.
I laughed and said" but he's American, he can only be a temporary civil administrator, not an elected president"
The driver said " so what! We could ask the Americans to lend us his services and give him the Iraqi nationality. He sure deserves it"
I laughed again and told him" even men like Bremer could be affected by unlimited power especially in a community like ours were we always give leaders 100 times the credit they deserve"
The driver took a side look at me and said" you seem well informed uncle, tell me what are your perspectives for Iraq in the future? Do you really think that we might have a bright future ahead of us?"
I started to tell him what I think about Iraq's future and what we should do and answered the questions he started to ask. The conversation went long with the others participating every now and then. at the end as we approached the city the fog as well as the frown upon the drivers face gradually started to fade away and his face started to glow with hope and said" uncle? How often do you come to Kut?" "every month I suppose" I answered. The man said " uncle; each time you want to come to Al-Kut ask for me in the garage I'll be happy to give you a free ride . You brought hope back to me" I thanked him for his generous offer and said "remember though, such a bright full future depends mainly on us; you and me, not Bremer not Bush not the USA or any other country" the man gave a sigh of worry and nodded with approval.
- By Ali.

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