My friend Nawal has two very nice daughters, and had three very nice sons. She is a housewife and her husband an electrician. One day their world blew apart.
A little more than a year ago a roadside bomb took both her husband and her youngest son. They were out shopping.
And that was the beginning.
Her husband was Shiite – she is Sunni. And the link was broken. The powers that be in their neighbourhood intimidated her into leaving her home in the Shiite controlled Amil neighbourhood to seek refuge wherever she may. Her fate took her to a small village in Abu Ghraib.
She has been living there since.
My phone rang, "How are you Nawal! Can you come and visit?", "Yes. I must see you, I need your advice" And she told me her story.
"We have been well taken care of, really. The people are very caring..." She burst out crying, "When I first went there I didn't make it clear to all those around me that my husband had been Shiite. At that time I hated Shiites for throwing me out of my home. It didn't occur to me that these simple generous folk would take it for granted that because we were displaced to Abu Ghraib – we were Sunni. As the days passed I could see that the more broken families came to Abu Ghraib the stronger the resentment against Shiites grew - and I was too afraid to say that my children were Shiite. The bitterness grew to the extent that I began to be afraid for them and decided to bury their IDs because their father's name was a telltale Shiite name that is not used by Sunnis, and I kept my dark secret and cautioned my boys – especially that they are not to use that name. I stopped sending them to school; I lectured them all day, knowing I was sending them a very wrong message. They were Shiite – and there is no shame in that but they were beginning to feel the shame of having to deny it, and a rebellion would put us all in jeopardy. But although they felt bad – they stuck to story."
She started crying
"I don't know what to do. Last week, a very nice young man came to ask for my daughter's hand in marriage."
I didn't see why this was cause for all those pouring tears. So I congratulated her.
"No, you don't understand – If we accept him and the marriage is to take place, she must have proper documents – No one knows she's Shiite – she likes this young man but I know for sure that as soon as I dig up those IDs we will be looked down upon because of the deceit. But what was I to do? Where was I to take them? Please tell me what to do!"