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He deserved it
A world without Saddam

December 30, 2006

This morning when I checked upon the latest news, Aneesh Raman, the CNN correspondent in Baghdad broke the long-awaited news "Saddam Hussein was executed a few minutes ago ..." Although I knew the death of the old dictator was imminent, I could hardly digest it and had to sit down and take a deep breath. I was experiencing the first few minutes of my life without Saddam. A predator who attacked my country and killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of my compatriots and affected the lives of millions in one or another way. He inflicted pain on the residents of four completely destroyed provinces and displaced millions who had to move to other cities. My heart jumped when I thought about millions of parents, siblings, wives, husbands and children who have to carry the burden of the loss of their dear ones to their graves.

I was still a teenager when the war started. One afternoon when I was taking a nap in my grandmother's house there were at least 5 big explosions. At first we thought it might have been another bombing incident that was so common in those days. But a couple of hours later the news broadcast of TV and radio announced the Iraqi air raid against Mehrabad airport and a few other cities. In a few days we heard explosions and saw things that we had never imagined or dreamed of.

I remembered the nights we had to stay tuned on the radio to hear the sirens to get up and gather the whole family and take them downstairs. I remembered the times we had to take refuge under the staircase or the doorframes or whatever shelter available and waite for the big bangs to happen. The times we had to hurry for our mother's heart medicine right after the attacks. I remembered the times we had to flee the city and go to the suburbs and wait for the nocturnal bombings to happen. I remembered the morning when we returned home to see our dog had died and all the windows smashed to pieces, tearing the curtains, and shrapnel all over the place. I remembered when a place near my granny's in Zafar streets was hit and she was shocked by the explosions waves. And the human remains that were found among the shooting debris on her rooftop a few days later.

But the most enduring bitter memory in my mind is the savage attack I witnessed in Kamiaran. I was a student in Tehran university so I was on a temporary exemption from going to the war front. But in the final years of the war even the university students were called to be sent on a six-month period of military service (Tarh Shesh Maheh) and I was among the very first group of students who were supposed to go.

They took us to Kamiaran in Kermanshah Province near the borders of the Kurdistan for a brief military training before sending us to the front. Since I was a student of science, they decided to send me to Shin-Mim-Reh or the division for chemical, microbiological, radioactive defense. We were being trained in Kamiaran when one afternoon the city was heavily bombarded by the Iraqi Sukhoi warplanes. At least fifty bombs were dropped in and around the city in a matter of just a few minutes. Our barracks was in the outskirts of the city, yet we were jolted in our buildings exactly like a baby in a cradle.

After the attack we got out and hurried to the city. There was fire and blood everywhere. For a Tehrani boy who had never seen blood in his life the images were just like a nightmare. A nightmare in living daylight. I saw a burned up taxi and its charred passengers. The driver was still moaning and moving in the fire. I tried to reach for the door handle but it was impossible to touch the burning car. I could only touch the black and burnt hand of the driver loosely hanging from the window, as if trying to put him out of that firebox when one of my friends pulled me back. I kept the drivers hand for a few moment and felt something came off from his body into my hand. There was something in my hand and could not see it through all that smoke and fire. I bent down to see I had taken a piece of human flesh and charred fabrics off the hanging hand of the driver. I doubled up in pain and threw up right then and there.

A few meters away a young man was carrying a dying small girl in his arms, never knowing where to go. She was taken from the rubbles and still moved her head and hands. Her white face and chestnut hair was covered with layers of dust and she had only one shoe in her little foot. The other foot was nowhere to be seen.

I saw so much blood and dead bodies in one single afternoon that a normal person would never see even in war movies. To this day I cannot stand films with scenes of air raids and bombings. Once I decided to watch Pearl Harbor but the painful pictures were so strong in my mind that I had to give it a second thought.

Yes, today Saddam in gone, and so are hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. Let'ss hope for the day when all the blood suckers in this great planet of ours are brought to justice and punished. Let's keep our fingers crossed that those disasters would never happen to us again. We have had more than our share of bloodshed. We could really use a little bit of peace and freedom. We deserve it. Comment

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