"I don't know why I hate going to the barber" I told my friend while we were on the way to get a hair cut to which he answered "maybe you hate their gossip and the idea of having to listen to them talk as long as you're sitting without having the least chance to respond".
We entered the shop trying to find other reasons for why we hate this inevitable more or less monthly visit, and I found that 5 other guys were in row waiting ahead of me "this is another reason" I thought, now I will have to watch the barber cut the hair of 5 other guys before it’s my turn. But the barber surprised me and invited me to sit at the 'operation chair' bypassing all the others. I looked with visible confusion on my face which the barber noticed immediately and he explained "the brothers here are not for a hair cut, these are owners of neighbor shops and they're here just to chat".
Oh great! Now I had to listen to the six of them chatting instead of the barber alone but then I thought it was ok since I'll be the first to get my hair cut.
The barber was busy proud of his new audio system which was playing loud some Arabic songs, one of the 'neighbors' said "you obviously have nothing to worry about now barbers; the mujahideen have turned to food stuff shops and are no longer running after you".
"What's the charge for those" I asked.
"Selling Iranian products" he said and nodded. Another 'neighbor' confirmed the story and added that wholesalers in Jamila marketplace were warned not to deal with Iranian products.
"What going to be next? We have to import a lot of items from other countries" I asked but no one responded and everyone's attention suddenly shifted to the muted TV which was now playing snap shots from Zarqawi's latest captured video, music went down and TV was loud now and seconds later a flood of comments came in.
"Look at him, he was so thin when he first came into Iraq and now he looks like a bull! He must be feeding on a sheep everyday. Do you really believe this man lives in the desert??" one remark was "no, he's under American protection, they brought him in a helicopter to the desert to shoot this video then he was flown back to a palace. No idiot can believe that America with all the technology and power cannot spot him" another guy added.
I held myself from responding because I'm tired of explaining things to people like these, and any theory I'd make in contrast with what rumors and conspiracy theories they say would be enough to make me perceived as a collaborator with the Americans.
"You see that, all his weapons are US made, isn't this enough proof that he's backed by the Americans? Er, by the way they say he's in Yusifiya now, right?"
of course this contradicts the former theory of a green zone palace but it passed without objections and the other guy just said "yes! This is how the Americans do it, every time they want to destroy an area they send in Zarqawi so they can justify their operations.
Here another guy joined the discussion and started by explaining that he has family that lives in Yusifiya "I went to visit my uncles last week and in fact the neighborhood has changed lately; women do not go out without full hijab and abaya and I could see more men in wahabi outfits on the streets…it didn't look reassuring at all, America and Israel want to kill us all; it's an obvious plot".
At this moment I couldn't control myself anymore and said "ok, if they want to kill us all why don't they just nuke us and get done with it?"
He looked at me in a questioning smile and said "they did use nuclear weapons against us, have you not heard of uranium shells?"
"I meant a hydrogen bomb, not uranium ammunition, one hydrogen bomb will rid them of us and will put us all to rest" I explained but he said NO explaining his idea with a theory not very uncommon here that some people attribute to Bush and other attribute to Rumsfeld, the theory quotes Bush (or Rumsfeld) saying he had vowed to make Iraq be like the Emirates (here the UAE is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in the Middle East) and that this plan would only succeed when the population of Iraq is cut down to 6 millions and only then Iraq would be a prosperous country.
Of course the mind cannot bear with such lunacy and literally stops functioning upon hearing such theories that unfortunately breed well in our lands; I just laughed and wondered "how are they going to pick those 6 millions? will we have to flip coins for example to see who dies and who doesn't?" to which he answered confidently "not exactly, if you're lucky you'll survive and when the 6 million figure is reached, then killing will stop".
I asked "does Kurdistan have a share of this death?"
"No, they get along well with the Americans"
"Strange! You mean that anyone who agrees with America gets to live in peace?"
"Ah, interesting, what should we do in this case?" I made this question hoping I could find a grain of reason in any of them.
The barber said "things will calm down only if the Americans get to appoint a president of their choice".
"And why don't they just do it!?" I asked
"Because the people will not approve it"
"Hmmm, and what about Kurdistan?"
"The people there do not object to what America says"
"Hmmm" (no further questions!)
I chose not to waste my breath on more of this conversation as long as the guys were convinced that everybody wants to kill them supporting this belief with rumors and conspiracy theories that simple minded people love; they relieve the mind off the duty of making any effort to find answers and it allows them to not have to blame themselves for anything that goes wrong.
An Iraqi finds it so hard to admit his mistakes, not only that, he doesn't even want to review his history to avoid facing the reality that it was our mistakes over time that made us what we are now, so let's just blame the others for our failures and let’s believe that our enemies (who are virtually every nation other than us) have been putting one obstacle after the other in front of us to stop us from becoming an advanced and wealthy nation and let's just spare us the effort of finding out the real reasons behind our misery.
Ignorance is a plague nurtured by turbans that lack logic and knowledge and by media and political analysts who are keen to keep the people misinformed and to which truth is an enemy; a heavy legacy that will not be easy to escape.