Baghdad Burning I: Girl Blog from Iraq
Wow. For the first time since 2007, Riverbend, the “girl” blogger from Iraq, wrote a new piece on her amazing blog Baghdad Burning. (She actually posted in April, but I only found out today. Why didn’t I know this?) From the start of the US occupation of Iraq, Riverbend wrote about her daily life in Baghdad, about politics, about the physical and emotional carnage around her, and about being an intelligent, educated woman sidelined by a national catastrophe. An out-of-work techie, Riverbend posted regularly from 2003 to 2007. Her blogging was well-regarded and published in print in two volumes by the Feminist Press of the City University of New York.
This year’s post:
April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion. Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time.
In 2003, we were counting our lives in days and weeks. Would we make it to next month? Would we make it through the summer? Some of us did and many of us didn’t.
Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”
We used Baghdad Burning as one of the central texts a course I taught at Keene State College. I and the students were enormously fortunate to have Riverbend’s work to show us the new and valid forms that writing was taking in the digital age, and to provide an alternate account of the US war in Iraq.
Riverbend had not been posting for years. I knew that she had moved to Syria, and then stopped posting. I feared the worst. She is alive, however, and her writing is still sharp and sad and ultimately full of love.
And what happened to Riverbend and my family? I eventually moved from Syria. I moved before the heavy fighting, before it got ugly. That’s how fortunate I was. I moved to another country nearby, stayed almost a year, and then made another move to a third Arab country with the hope that, this time, it’ll stick until… Until when? Even the pessimists aren’t sure anymore. When will things improve? When will be able to live normally? How long will it take?
For those of you who are disappointed reality has reared its ugly head again, go to Fox News, I’m sure they have a reportage that will soothe your conscience.
For those of you who have been asking about me and wondering how I have been doing, I thank you. “Lo khuliyet, qulibet…” Which means “If the world were empty of good people, it would end.” I only need to check my emails to know it won’t be ending any time soon. – posted by river @ 10:20 PM