At last my heart and mind are at rest, until tomorrow.
I was waiting for a phone call from my daughter to tell me she is home safely.
She, like thousands of university students in Iraq, is taking her mid-term tests, starting today. They have a fixed schedule, i.e. are sitting ducks - for ten days.
Since the beginning of this academic year, the students in her college have been led quite a dance; a deadly dance. The college is situated in an area that has become more like a war zone than a normal neighborhood; it is too near Haifa Street for it to quiet down for more than a few days at a stretch.
They started out by going to college every day. Their college more like a fortress for its security, than an educational facility.
Attack after attack on the surrounding residential area frightened the Dean into improvising a random lecture schedule that allows them to attend their lectures in no pattern that lasts more than one week.
Result: the administrator of the adjoining hospital was abducted, and then killed. Snipers pick inhabitants and students walking from college to hospital or back. One car stops in front of the entrance, lets out one handcuffed young man, waits for him to take a few steps away … and then he is shot, bait, it turned out. Naïve students run to his aid only to be shot at by snipers on a rooftop of a high building in Haifa Street. My daughter was not more than twenty meters away.
Two weeks later.
Students are told to attend lectures at Mustansiriya University campus. A large well protected campus … protected by a militia … where no month passes without an abduction incident … abduction of females that usually ends in rape and murder, in twos and threes.
With heavy heart I am won over by her insistence, and she attends the random lectures for three weeks.
A great big double explosion takes place at the main entrance of Al-Mustansiriya one Tuesday, killing more than 120 students and wounding more than 200, most of whom were female students. One car bomb and one explosive belt … body parts were brought down from the date palms, as were remnants of their uniforms.
Although hurting for all the families that were devastated that afternoon, I thanked God my daughter was not harmed.
At home for another two weeks.
Go attend Baghdad University. Also protected. No way.
All this time studying at home and online, doing her best not to lose yet another year to chaos, she is now taking her mid term exams at her college. A sitting duck.
She is mad to continue.
I am mad to let her.