Every day life in the country the US destroyed

Issue 

Iraqi Girl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq Edited by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, developed by John RossHaymarket Books, Chicago, 2009206 pp, $24.95

Hadiya (a false name) was just an ordinary 15-year-old girl until the US invaded Iraq. Suddenly, everyday life became a challenge, when things like passing exams or taking her niece to day care are punctuated by US bombs falling nearby.

This collection of her blog posts is a window into life in Iraq under the US's iron heel.

Her blog began on July 29, 2004. It's mainly about her family and her school, but includes details like her local hospital being overrun with US soldiers, and the governor of Mosul's reaction — he won't admit that US forces are there, no matter how many times he is told.

She goes on holidays, as conventionally as anyone, but remarks: "I love Syria because here you can see many people walking in the street with no fear — and guess what? They are smiling too."

She talks about how life has changed, how under Saddam Hussein's rule she hated him, but how much worse the US soldiers are. She wants real freedom for people in Iraq and believes Iraqi oil should be used to build a better Iraq rather than being stolen.

Sometimes she talks about bombing, sometimes she talks about cooking with her sister in the kitchen, sometimes about her niece. Like a diary, she talks about the big things that have happened to her on any particular day.

Often wry humour appears within the suffering: "Najma and I were studying on the roof yesterday and there were many helicopters flying in the air around our house. Najma hopes that they will shoot us so that we will not have to study because then we will be in heaven playing … But in Iraq, no dream will come true, thank God."

Like a mosaic, a pattern emerges through the small pieces: the determination of this girl to survive and to create, despite the devastation caused by the US, a future worth living for.

[Hadiya's ongoing blog can be read Iraqigirl.blogspot.com.]

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