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One Week in Baghdad
If there is any advantage of the Iraq war, it would have to be the endless stream of national and religious holidays. There was a daytime curfew today because of the opening parliamentary session, and not much activity is expected during the next week as the Shi'ite Arba'een holiday, or the 40th day commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, will be taking place.
The new parliament was sworn in today. Our bickering politicians agreed to disagree yet again, and this time it was over the oath. I sometimes can't help but wonder if it was the war that has left us so divided, or have we been that way all along.
The family stayed indoors for most of the day. At least for my mother it was a relief. She constantly worries and calls us on our phones when we are out to work or school, asking us if everything was okay where we were, when we would return and how.
I imposed my own daytime ban on news channels. Last thing I need is a headache. Instead, we watched a good old rented sci-fi movie.
In addition to regular and fixed holidays, it is possible to make up your own without the need to take leave. Better still, you can do it from the comfort of your bed, citing an unexpected security incident as an excuse.
Like sometimes I don't feel like going to work. I just oversleep. The phone rings and wakes me up at 11 am.
"Where are you, Dr.?" my boss inquires. "We were expecting you. You know the Directorate might send someone for inspection today."
"Oh, I apologize, Dr.," I reply, trying to sound as wakeful as I can. "I'm on the Canal highway, and there seems to be an American roadblock. I'm not sure I'm going to make it to the clinic today."
"I see. Let me know if you can -- Bye."
And it's back under the sheets for me.
Many have mastered that useful trick. Personally, I use it sparingly because, very often, I actually do get caught up in roadblocks.
People who need to make a living from day jobs, such as laborers, grocers and taxi drivers, are not impressed with the frequent daytime curfews and holidays. Business is already suffering much because of deteriorating security, power and fuel shortages.
But lazy civil servants such as myself can lay back and enjoy the fruits of "liberation."
A quiet day, which left me to ponder a question that haunts me: We Iraqis continue to live between the hammer of terrorists and the anvil of American, British and Iraqi security forces. But what kind of a people are we to respond by killing our own?
Zeyad, an Iraqi dentist who spent his childhood in Britain, lives in Baghdad. His blog, Healing Iraq, started in October 2003. For security reasons, Zeyad publishes only his first name.