On Higher Ground

Yes, we’re fine here, all dandy, and nothing doin’…

13:30. 22nd Feb. 2006

I’m in college, sitting in the cafeteria, waiting for the rest of my carpool buddies to finish their lectures so we can go home.
Cell phone rings, I pick it up: “Hello ____ (friend of mine)! How are you! What’s up?
- Where are you? College? Get back immediately, like, NOW.
- Where what? Get who? Why?
- ______ (my name), did you hear what I just said? get back home immediately, streets are Bad now, REAL bad. NOW.
- Hold on, what happened? Come on!

No answer.

- What ______, are things so bad?
- Even worse that that! Where’re the rest of the guys? Round them up and come home. Now better than waiting even for five more minutes.
- Ok ______, thank you. Take care.
- Hey, wait, don't forget to give me a miscall when you arrive home.

With that, I knew that things have really hit the fan... two minutes later I start getting messages from my parents abroad and friends here, “where are you?” “Are you ok?” “How are things where you’re at now?” “Anything happen near you?”
And none of them are telling what the hell happened.
You see, I was up in the computer labs, studying, with no access to the outside world.

How was I to know that The Start of the Civil War almost came and went without me?
I would have really been sore at that.

A feeling of dread comes over all of us in college. The mood suddenly changed. People are still talking and laughing, but you know its just for show, to get their minds off of what’s to come.

We say Byes to all, and tell all to call all when we all arrive, and start the drive back home, from Jadiriyah to A’adhamiyah, passing thru Karrada, army’s everywhere, regulars, thank God.
A few road-blocks, no prob, we’re used to it.. All of us in the car holding our breath, not wishing to put a jinx by saying how the road is comparatively clear so far..

We leave Karrada, and hit the highway.. Oh God, its open, but will it remain so? We had stopped breathing three kilometers ago...

Phone rings again, its ______ again: ‘Hey there, you heading home? Good, now tell the others, the area’s main roads are completely closed, and nothing passes, nothing, start planning for a detour.. And call me when u arrive’
‘Thanx buddy, no worries, nothing’s happening inshallah –God willing-’

‘Ok boys, the area’s sealed, since your houses are across from mine, I suggest you drop me off at the pedestrian cross, and go on on your way..’ I tell them.

However, we take a detour from the main highway, and they end up dropping me a couple of hundred meters from the crossing –a pedestrian bridge over the highway-…
Crap. I don't know this place very well. Guess I better hurry on home then.. ‘Bye guys’ ‘sorry man, but this is the closest we could’ ‘I know, see you later, take care, and call me’ ‘ok, take care’
And I start walking.

Damn. A few minute and I’m on the bridge.
I still the remember the feeling of relief I got when I stepped down on the other side, my side.

On higher ground.

Let all hell break loose, I’m in my turf now. With my people.

Ladies and Gentlemen: its down to that, your people, you’re safe. Strange territory, you’re it.

As I enter my house, family comes over ‘why didn’t you call when you were at the highway?’ ‘What took you so long?’ ‘How’s the state of things out there?’

Miscalls, to and fro, all of my friends and family, I’m here, I’m safe, I made it.

Smartest thing this government did so far was to barricade A’adhamiyah.
Thank God for religious figures on both sides coming out to calm feelings, and ban all violence.

We all breathe a sigh of relief.

18: 01 25th Feb. 2006

-Insert Four Letter word here-

Open War, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Its back to ye old days of yore, 2003, curfews, night raids, explosions, ‘hood-watch.
All over again.
Welcome to A’dhamiyah, we’ve got fun and games.

Where I live it’s a helluva lot quieter than most areas in A’adhamiyah (it’s a really REALLY big place), thank the Lord. We only HEAR the explosions and fire-fights…
Curfew starts from 10pm I think till 4pm the next day, National Guard and police have barricaded all streets in and out of the area, you cant even walk across, let alone drive.

Still, I think the worst is yet to come.
This is a kiddie-tussle, or so I believe. The worst is YET TO COME.

I’m staying home for all of next week, call me a coward, but I don't intend to lose my skin due to unnatural causes, thank you very much.

Religious bans didn’t do much. Barricades lessened violence but did not stop it.

Point is? These are not religious back-lashes. These things are political.
Civil War. A word repeated a million times over the last few days.

I still have my doubts.

I’ll try to post more along the coming days, I have to charge my cell-phone and internet first… curfew ends tomorrow, now that’s both good and bad, good cuz I can go out buy stuff, and bad cuz crazies can also come out blow stuff. –another four letter word-

Catch ya later.
And Then Some!
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