FATIMA

Iraqi Exile


LISTEN TO FATIMA'S DIARY

MARCH 27, 2003 · A young woman named Fatima fled Iraq three years ago. She managed to make her way to the United States and has settled in Cleveland. She's kept in close touch with her father and sister, who remain in Baghdad. Fatima asked that her last name not be used to protect her family in Baghdad. As she follows coverage of the current war, she keeps thinking about her own experiences in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. This is her War Diary.

I've been paranoid. I've been calling my family over there like every five seconds to the degree that they said, "OK, just don't worry about us." They said, "We're worried about you now."

I will never forget the first night the war started. Me and my sister were sleeping downstairs, because you never know... if they hit you and you're upstairs it's hard, you know, and tough. And then I heard my mom yelling and screaming, she goes, "Get up quickly! They're bombing us!" I'm like, "Oh my God, are you serious?" She goes, "Yes!" You know, the bombing was there and I thought I'm dreaming. And my sister was like, "Oh my God, are they bombing us?" And I'm like, yes!

"I wasn't even able to cry. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I just felt like I'm very old. I was 14 years old, but I just felt like my hair is turning white."

And then we run all the way in the house to turn off the lights, you know we were running, and my dad was running, I was running. I don't know where I was going but I was just... all I was thinking of is to turn the lights down. And then we, all of us gathered in an area, it was a very small area but kind of safe, so we stayed there... and the shock...

I wasn't even able to cry. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I just felt like I'm very old. I was 14 years old, but I just felt like my hair is turning white. I remember my jaw was... going like, guh, guh, guh, guh, guh, guh, you know, that's how scared I was. I was all shaking. Especially the first few days was so so so so heavy. The electricity was bombed, the water was bombed, the phones were bombed, you know, they bombed everything. You feel like the house is shaking.

And then I couldn't believe that there will be a morning. So basically we were killed by the American people, and we were killed by Saddam too.


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