Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Yet another day started. The 76 year old Omar Ahmed al-Obeidi had the habit of continuing with his routine after Fajr, namaz from the break of dawn until beginning of sunrise, by going to Mecca masjid in the old city of Hyderabad which is just 2 kms from the place he lived. After reaching home from the masjid, as a part of his routine went through the newspaper. It was dated 27 October 2050. He was surprised to see Iraq making news in the page one. Iraq is a country with important news almost everyday but never makes into the page one. Not that people dont want to read the news of violence and bombings, but its considered common. Iraq was a society with lots of experience of violence - almost half million soldiers and civilians died in war with Iran in 1980s, hundreds of thousands were slaughtered on the orders of Saddam Hussein in the 90s and lots of people died in the Sunni-Shiite sectarian clashes since the downfall of Saddam where both Sunnis and Shiites were fighting for their power. But this news was completely different from all that happened before. On reading the main heading of the news tears were rolling down Omar's cheeks and he mumbled "At last" and recalled how he landed into India from his motherland Iraq.

It was sometime around July 2006 when six year old son of Omar asked his grandfather in an apprehensive tone "Baba, why do shiites and sunnis kill each other?"

Omar's father answered "Beta, the Islam religion was founded by Prophet Mohammed in the seventh century. He founded the first Islamic state, in Medina, a city in western Saudi Arabia near Mecca. After his death, the muslims formed into two branches.The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs are Mohammed's successors and only they can rightfully take his place as the leaders of Muslims. Shiites believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. Some years later, the supporters of Ali killed the third caliph. To this the Sunnis reacted by killing Ali's son Hussein. This is how the war started."

"But beta why do u ask me all this?"

"My friend's father was killed by Sunnis yesterday. I am afraid they will kill us also."

"Dont panic beta, Allah will take care of all of us."

Just four months after that, Omar's father went to meet his old Sunni friend in a small restaurant in a Sunni community in Baghdadh. Suddenly there was a harsh sound of explosion outside the restaurant . There were bloody torn body parts clad in burned pieces of clothing everywhere; nearly 17 people killed and many injured. Omar's father was one among them who went to help the injured. And then the second suicide bomber triggered killing all the previously injured and many more who were trying to save the injured. That was how Omar lost his father in a warning attack done by Shiites on Sunnis. No one attended the funeral procession of Omar's father as mourning might also prove deadly. Those days were famous for Shiite funeral processions being attacked by Sunni suicide bombers and Shiite militia attacking Sunni's wakes.

"26th October, Wednesday, Geneva: The United Nations today released the results of survey for this decade at 10:00 AM in the morning. Usually its countries like Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand, which are tourism based countries, stand first in the survey but for the first time Iraq is in news about .....". Omar's mind was rolling with his past experiences. He remembered how the fake identity card which he got for 35$ then saved his life. One day when Omar was going in a car along with a Shiite friend, they were stopped by a checkpost. They were Sunni insurgents dressed in Iraq Police uniform, as it was not difficult then to get Police uniforms and badges. They were stopped by a gory looking person, who must be the head of the people at that checkpost, and were asked for their identity cards. From the photos of Imam Ali stuck to the checkpost, Omar realized that they were Shiite policemen. So he pulled out his fake identity card reading "al-Hussein" as his tribal name, the common Shiite tribal name and he was safe. But unfortunately, Omar's friend didnt have his fake identity card, and he was dragged to the nearby shiite mosque by them. Three days later, his body was found with 15 holes from an electric drill.

With all this getting worse day by day, Omar Ahmed decided to leave Iraq, though he had the hope that it would all get better some day. Omar, a widower, decided to settle in Jordan along with his son. He started for Jordan in December 2007. Omar was accompanied by many more Iraqis to Jordan, but the Jordanian airport officials didnt allow Iraqis into their country and were all sent back to Iraq. Finally in April 2008 with the help of a influential person in India, he flew to India along with his son. But he never shed his hopes, the hope for a better motherland, hope for an Iraq with no violence and no clashes. Gradually as the time passed by, the war between Sunnis and Shiites subsided.

"At last" he mumbled again, "At last, my hope came true". He could not control his happiness and his heart slipped a beat. The newspaper flew from his hands, and his heart never fluttered thereafter. The newspaper read "UN declare Iraq the safest country for this decade".

In Human, All Too Human , philosopher Friedrich Nietzche had this to say about hope:

Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.


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