'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, October 16, 2006

RiverBend's Summer of Goodbyes 

So RiverBend hasn't posted since early August and, to be blunt, given the state of Iraq one must wonder if she is among the living. I wrote to an editor at Feminist Press, the publisher of volumes I and II of Baghdad Burning, the book, and got the following reply:

Thank you for your concern, which we share. We have not heard from Riverbend either, but hope that, as in the past, she has traveled to safer areas.

I wish I could say we knew more.

which isn't encouraging.

However, this isn't the first time that RiverBend has failed to post for an extended period of time. For example, someone in the comments of this post of mine from 7/26/04, writes of her concern for RiverBend's safety due to a long hiatus. Probably RiverBend was "travel[ing] to safer areas" during this period. If anything major is up, I hope that it is only that she and her family have decided that it is simply too dangerous to remain in Iraq and have left. It's hard to read the last post on Baghdad Burning, "Summer of Goodbyes" without coming to the conclusion that she is at least considering leaving:

I’ve said goodbye this last month to more people than I can count. Some of the ‘goodbyes’ were hurried and furtive -- the sort you say at night to the neighbor who got a death threat and is leaving at the break of dawn, quietly.

Some of the ‘goodbyes’ were emotional and long-drawn, to the relatives and friends who can no longer bear to live in a country coming apart at the seams.

Many of the ‘goodbyes’ were said stoically -- almost casually -- with a fake smile plastered on the face and the words, “See you soon”… Only to walk out the door and want to collapse with the burden of parting with yet another loved one.

During times like these I remember a speech Bush made in 2003: One of the big achievements he claimed was the return of jubilant ‘exiled’ Iraqis to their country after the fall of Saddam. I’d like to see some numbers about the Iraqis currently outside of the country you are occupying… Not to mention internally displaced Iraqis abandoning their homes and cities.

I sometimes wonder if we’ll ever know just how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left the country this bleak summer. I wonder how many of them will actually return. Where will they go? What will they do with themselves? Is it time to follow? Is it time to wash our hands of the country and try to find a stable life somewhere else?

Actually perhaps the most well-known female Iraqi blogger besides RiverBend has already left. Kitten-obsessed fourteen-year-old Raghda from Baghdad Girl and family have relocated to the UAE. Raghda wrote the following last month:

Living in war is the hardest thing in the world because you'll see the place you have lived in for your whole life is being destroyed completely and all the people you love are getting hurt, growing up in war is very hard, all the things you used to do is impossible to do now including going out that's because it is very dangerous to go any where so you have to stay home all the time and even home isn't safe, for me the most thing I missed was going out and visit my relatives and friends, when school starts my life become like this: Waking up at 6:30 am and get ready to go to school and then I leave the house at 7:45 am and back to it at 2:00 pm, I have lunch and start studying till I finish the piles of homework and then watch TV till 10:00 pm when I go to sleep and wake up at 6:30 am to relive the same events every day, and when the situation become really bad like it it is now in Iraq, you do the only thing you can do to get your life back which is leaving the country, and that's what I done, I still and will all ways feel like there is some thing missing in me, and that’s my friends is growing up in war.

NPR profiled Raghda earlier this year.

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