Calling Baghdad

An Iraqi-American woman talks to her family about life during "shock and awe."

Published March 25, 2003 7:52PM (EST)

I was able to get in touch with my relatives only last night. Miraculously, I got ahold of an aunt who lives in a residential neighborhood in downtown Baghdad.

I spoke with my aunt and my cousin. They sounded frightened and very upset. She lives in the Adhmiha area, which is in the Rasafa part of the city, a section of Baghdad that tends to be more residential and congested.

My aunt said that the bombing hasn't stopped. She counted seven bombs that fell in their neighborhood just the day before.

"They were so close that the glass in the living room is all shattered," she said.

They have food because the government gave them six months of rations before the bombing started. They have water and electricity, and the TV is running footage of the war, which to me signals that the government is still in control. They knew about the latest POWs, and what's going on in the south.

"The sounds of the bombs have been terrifying," my aunt told me. "We can't do much of anything; it's like being under house arrest."

I asked my cousin about stores and if they were open during the day. He said that vegetable markets open for a few hours and that there are cafes and restaurants open as well. The prices have skyrocketed, though, and people go about only for a bit at a time. My other cousin, his brother, did drive out to go and check on my other aunt who lives about 15 minutes away ... she was fine and staying indoors.

My aunt's married daughter has been staying with them with her 6-month-old baby. And my aunt's son-in-law has been on duty working for the police force, almost nonstop for the past month. Now that the country is in a state of national emergency, he only comes over for an hour a day. They are all worried about what's going to happen to him; they don't know if his office has been targeted for bombing by the United States.

I asked them why they didn't leave the city, since my uncle has a place outside of Baghdad.

My aunt said, "We are afraid to leave our house, our food ... Where would we all go, so many of us?"

By Salon Staff

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