Sunday, June 20, 2010

50 meters

Fifty meters was the distance between me and inevitable death.
I was trying to get a bus to go back home after a short day of work. I was walking in Mamoon street (Yarmouk neighborhood in western Baghdad) heading to Al Nissour Sq. in order to get a bus from there and go back home. It takes me 10 minutes by foot to get to that square. I pass by a state-run bank which is called The Trade Bank of Iraq, and also beside it, there is an office of Iraq's interior ministry where Iraqis apply for their national ID cards. It was about 11:00 am local time and usually this area at that hour as it was today is so crowded with people visiting both the bank and the office to get their stuff done. I kept walking and trying to lessen the terrible heat of our burning sun with a bottle of water and a wet handkerchief. Then, I felt like my ears were about explode and my lungs were jumping out of my chest. I then realized it was a heavy blast. I looked behind and I saw nothing but fire smoke and dust. Immediately, a rain of shattered stones and metal pieces were falling over. I stood amazed there for a minute but I was awakened by some bullets were fired by the Iraqi police and quickly I started to escape the bloody scene to a safer place. Another loud explosion occurred, leaving a huge giant of fire and a rain of flying pieces of iron falling from the sky. I raised my head above and I saw a large piece of a car's wheel flying in the air on the other side of the street. Then I sped up again and went to take shelter behind a few trees just to catch a breath. I couldn't believe what just happened. If I was 50 meters back or 2 minutes late, I could be dead. People were running in all directions. And ambulances and fire trucks invaded the scene. I looked back to check on the bloody scene but the smoke was killing my visibility. Anyway, I guessed that the explosions were targeting the Trade bank and the office of Iraq's interior ministry. Later, I heard on tv that each car was loaded with 80 kilogrammes (180 pounds ) of ammonium nitrate. A recent update mentioned that 33 people were killed and 52 others were injured. Five guards of the bank were among the dead and six others were wounded. While many of the victims from that blast targeting the interior ministry office were women, according to the Iraqi army. That truly is painful. Till this moment I do not forget how a man burst into tears as he was running towards the explosions. I'm sure many families have lost their beloved ones today and my family could have been one of those. I ask what is the guilt perpetrated by the poor families to face a horrible fate like that? What those innocent women and children did? Won't the violence and bloodshed stop in Iraq? Should ordinary Iraqis pay the political struggle in Baghdad? Can't those poor Iraqi families live in peace? Is there any light at the end of this long dark bloody tunnel?