10 Years Away from Baghdad

Today marks 10 years for me to be away from my hometown, Baghdad. I’ve never been much of a writer, but I just felt like sharing a bit of what I’m feeling right this moment.

I left my hometown thinking that I will take a break for a couple of months to go away from all the noise, blood, bombs, deaths, sadness and harsh lives that my country men were living, and see how people live in “Utopia”. But all of a sudden I’m writing this because it’s been 10 years since I last saw the front door of my family house. A house that I still dream about whenever I have  a dream about a home. A home that has all of my childhood memories, where my father was in them. And the interesting thing is, I am living in this “Utopia” ever since then.

It’s amazing that even though I live in a different city, in a different country, in a whole different continent, that when ever I dream about my family even new ones, I see them at my old family house, at our small road in Baghdad. I guess somethings never die inside you no matter how far away they get, or even if they’re actually gone forever, which is the current state of  the good old house.

I miss my home, I miss my hometown, and I miss everything in my country, Iraq. But most of all, I really, really miss my father. I have had an interesting live, filled with events that when I think about makes me wonder how did I make it through, or at least I think I did.

I guess the most interesting part of my life has always been my family, old and new. My father was like the “godfather” for the family, all his sisters and brothers respected him because of how much he actually helped them to get on with their own lives. Many of them actually got married in our house to kick start their journey, and that has made our own life much, much sweater. They all love us, and we love them even more. I have always enjoyed all the things that we did together as a family, during events, travels within Iraq, meeting for a meal, or spending Ramadan with prayers and breaking our fasting together.

Despite the fact that we all lived through few wars, which is a great deal of a phrase to say when you’re just 22 years old at the time “few wars”, the last one was the one that really changed everything. It removed a big part of our lives, the rule of a dictator, and it opened a new world and way of life, and it brought the worst invasion in recent history, and not just in my country.

Things started moving fast, I graduated from university, got a new job as an IT engineer, and started a journey of two and a half years that will change everything. I worked in a company that installs Internet services via VSAT systems, and that included traveling to a different location everyday and most likely outside Baghdad to do a simple Internet install. And this is where the stories come in. I’m not going to write about what happened every day, even though I did have a different type of an adventure every day, because writing about it could take a while. I’m only going to say that these adventures had both very happy memories, and very very sad ones, and they kept changing who I am.

Some days would be a success after working hard for days or weeks trying to get a new type of system to work. Reminds me of the first time that my manager showed me a router called Cisco, and how at the time I thought it was a device taken out of the remnants of the NCC-1701 Enterprise ship. Other days would be so bad that I had to pick the remains of a friend’s body with half of his head left inside a morgue in my local hospital. I never forget that night, nor I stop fearing it will happen to me again, and I don’t wish that moment to anyone.

Each day in this job was an adventure because going out to do that job means that you’ll expect a bomb go off on the road, a fight between the many types of armies roaming in roads and people fighting against them, or a gang killing someone or kidnapping someone out of their house. That was the regular every day life, that was my life. But because you lived in Baghdad, after these wars, these things become regular to you and you have to keep on going. It never stops you from waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth and taking a shower then go to your job, knowing that you could never come back at night and end up in some graveyard, if you’re lucky enough to haven’t been blown apart in pieces. You just do it.

Then I had two direct incidents that led me to decide to go off shore for a while, these incidents were like the last push I needed to jump off the cliff. It’s never easy to leave your home town, no matter how hard your life is. Yet at the time I was still having one of the best lives between people living in Iraq, surrounded by my great family, friends and colleagues. But I felt like I have to do that jump and come to Utopia for a holiday.

Iraqis love London, always have, and I’m not sure why. To them, Britain or UK, is just London. Even though when you grow up in Iraq studying Saddam approved books which points you to hate the west, you still grow up loving this city. That’s why to us, we all think it’s Utopia.

I think for many parts, it really does live up to that. But for many more, it’s far away from it. Only after living here for 10 years that I know how hard life is in London, and how everyone is trying so hard to keep a roof over their heads. The world has changed much in these years, and everyone is really wondering when will it end, and to what end.

People from my country think that everyone here is having an easy life, where the government looks after all, and all are just getting a tan in their back yard laying under the sun. They don’t know how much each person here do just to try and live to the end of the month knowing that they can pay for rent, and do their shopping and think about buying how many kinds of fruits they can shop this time.

When you uproot your self to a different place, especially when you weren’t planning for it, your perspective of life keeps changing with it. You get an updated view of how people really are. Then you try your best to try and fit in, and keep your self part of this new community thinking that this is your community now, and you must do your best to make it a better one.

People here spends the most part of their lives doing really hard work. Look at a nurse’s life for instance, they spend most of their day caring for people, and the government keeps cutting their wages from time to time, they can’t even afford their rent. Look at how many single mothers try to provide for their children and yet have to work most of the day away from them. There are many examples of how hard life in here really is. But I guess to me it always gives me some kind of relief that this kind of hard is acceptable, because it’s way better than the kind that I lived in Iraq.

I guess the two things any society needs at most are both order, and safety. As long as you have those two, then people can make life better. That’s all the difference really is between here and there. Everyone is trying to do the same thing at the end of the day,  just work hard and provide for their family.

I always tell my friends that I am one of the luckiest Iraqis around, and I guess that’s mostly because in here I found my better half and married her. I now have two beautiful kids that I look forward to raise with all good intentions and love to both their father’s country and their own. I am also lucky enough to have most members of my family living in the UK, especially my mother. I am one of the lucky people in here that I actually enjoy my job and love what I do, knowing that my work affects millions of people around the world, somehow. I wish that I succeed in raising my kids to have a happy life, and fill peoples lives with happiness.

I thank Allah for everything, for being a Muslim in the first place, for my country, for my family, and for everything here in the UK. Finally, I pray that life will get better and be blessed with happiness for everyone.