Latest from McClatchy's Iraqi Staffers: Trip to Dentist Leads to Carnage

By: E&P Staff For several weeks, we have been featuring postings by McClatchy's Iraqi staffers in its Baghdad bureau, at the Inside Iraq blog. The full names are protected for obvious reasons.

Here is the latest from today, written by correspondent "Sahar."

I would suggest that "day off" should be re-named "day-on", when it comes to mums in general, and single mums especially.

My schedule started with taking both my mum and dad to the bank to receive their bi-monthly pensions, a task which we concluded at about ten thirty. The next task was taking my mum to the dentist; she had broken one of her very precious teeth the night before, and it was giving her a lot of pain.

Bad news! Our regular dentist has fled the country!

Where to now?? I called my acquaintances there and then to ask for the address of a good dentist. None were still around; none that we could reach, that is.

There was nothing for it ... we must go to the hospital.

"Not the hospital! We hear of terrible things ??"

"No Mum, it's all exaggerated, please don't worry. We'll be in and out in no time."

The hospital was surrounded with a blast wall. There was a small opening, hardly visible from a few meters away. I had to park the car quite a distance away, and because my mum can't walk any great distance, took a taxi to the tiny entrance, that was about three hundred meters from the dental clinic hidden inside.

As we were walking very slowly towards the clinic, an ambulance stopped at the tiny entrance, its shrieking siren tearing up the atmosphere. My mum became very pale.

"Sahar, Sahar ?".... "Don't worry Mum; it's probably a lady in labour or something."

But knowing better, I tried to steer her away from the route to be taken by those hurrying from the tiny break in the towering wall. But she couldn't move quickly enough.

They rushed towards us; their heavy burdens soaked in crimson red ? so bright ? so bright .... so still and silent.

I took my mum in my arms and physically turned her so that her back was to the inhuman sights and dragger her, as gently as I could, out of the way, and kept her in my embrace. She was muttering incoherently; she had seen.

Ages later, I eased my nervously tight hold; and looked her in the eye. Tear-filled eyes looked up at me from a pale face ? a weary look. "Please take me home."

We started back towards the opening. Slipping, almost falling, she looks down, and so do I.

We were walking in puddles of blood.

I cut my "day on" schedule short. Dusty floors are not so bad.


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