Latest From McClatchy’s Baghdad Bureau: A Death in the Family

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By: E&P Staff

For several months now, E&P has featured blog postings from Iraqi correspondents and staffers with McClatchy’s bureau in Baghdad. Their names are partly hidden for obvious reasons.

Here is the latest from correspondent “Sahar.”
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Would it interest anyone to know that another member of our extended family has perished? Or has death in Iraq become old, boring news?

He was killed on his doorstep, in full view of his wife and three daughters.

Our men couldn’t attend the funeral, because the deceased was Shiite, and the ceremony was held in his brother?s home in a Shiite neighbourhood.

My mother, my cousin and I decided that we would do our best to attend the women?s ceremony.

They (the family of the diseased) asked for the car?s registration no, its make and colour, and the number of women expected in it. They said we were to reach the former Central Market building (now a great heap of rubble) and stop to await our escort, without which we would not be able to enter the neighbourhood at all ? we would be shot, or worse ? abducted.

We drove slowly to the meeting place, kept the car running, and waited. Some minutes (ages) later a car stopped in front of us. One of the brothers, with him his daughter (20) stepped out of the car and approached us.

He greeted us gravely, and told his daughter to ride with us. He told us that this was insurance given by him, that we were ?safe?, his daughter was to ride with us.

We entered the neighbourhood. Slowly, slowly, we drove through the once familiar streets. I kept looking around.

I wanted to recognize my surroundings, but they looked so unfamiliar. The streets were deserted. Most were blocked with half-length cement barriers.

Plastic bags were being blown about. Stray dogs were roaming about freely. On our left was the Shiite community, and on our right, a no-man?s-land. A whole living district quite, quite empty.

Hundreds of homes, quite, quite empty.

Shops shuttered, schools hollow, and windswept courts, where the laughter of children used to fill the air. And the dust, a deep layer of dust, perhaps the most telling sign that these homes were homes no longer ?

We paid our respects, wept together with any who came in to show their sorrow. But in our hearts we knew ? we were weeping for ourselves and for our sorry existence bereft of our loved ones.

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