No Voice

I’ve lost my voice. That’s not a metaphor for anything, by the way. I’ve managed to literally lose my voice. It’s a bug that has been going around with the change of weather. It began three days ago- my voice was hoarse and I kept having to clear my throat. The next day it had completely disappeared! I didn’t know it was gone until I had wandered downstairs and attempted a “Good morning,” which came out sounding like something from a psychological thriller.

Four things you should know about illnesses in Iraq. When you describe your malady to any Iraqi, there are some general guidelines you can take for granted:-

1. Short of cancer and terminal illness, any Iraqi has had your malady before you,
2. Even in cases of cancer or other serious conditions- SOMEONE the abovementioned Iraqi knows *almost* personally has had the condition before you (the neighbor’s sister’s cousin’s nephew)…
3. Every Iraqi you talk to knows the cure for whatever you’re suffering from, and
4. Refusing to attempt abovementioned cure is both a personal insult to the well-intentioned curer and further affirmation of your foolhardiness which got you sick in the first place.

I’ve been no exception- everyone has had a cure for me to try.

My mother attempted various soup recipes. My father suggested gargling with a mixture of salt and water (which had me gagging).

The cousin swore he cured his own voiceless state last week with a tablespoonful of olive oil three times daily and supervised my dosage (which made the salt and water mixture actually seem quite good). Umm Ala’a, from three houses down, claimed that my voice wouldn’t return unless my whole neck was wrapped snugly in a wool scarf. Finally, the aunt concocted an interesting mixture of baybun (chamomile, which all Iraqis swear by), crushed dry mint leaves and lemon. This was all boiled together, strained and I was ordered to “INHALE” the steam rising from the greenish-yellow liquid and then drink the horrid stuff.

The only person who didn’t have a cure for me was E. “Why would I want you to get your voice back?!” He asked incredulously.

So I’ve spent the last two days communicating with nods, elaborate hand gestures and hoarse whispers. It’s interesting how friends and family react when they realise I’m voiceless- they either lower their own voices to just above a whisper, or they begin to speak unnaturally loud like I might have lost my hearing also.

And that’s why blogging is a wonderful thing right now- it gives a voice to the temporarily voiceless.

I didn’t get to see the Saddam trial- our electricity was out and the neighborhood generator was down. All I’ve been seeing these last two days are bits and pieces of it on various channels (they keep repeating the part where he scolds the judge).

The electricity schedule in what appears to be most areas in Baghdad is currently FIVE hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity. It’s very frustrating considering the fact that it’s not really cool enough yet for excess electrical heater use- where is it all going? If the electrical situation is this bad now, what happens later when the populace starts needing more electricity?

I intend to spend the rest of the night reading about Bush’s ‘strategy’ for Iraq. I haven’t seen it yet, but I expect it’ll be a repetition of the nonsense he’s been spewing for two and a half years now. Don’t Americans get tired of hearing the same thing?

It’s unbelievable that he’s refused to set a timetable for withdrawal (is he having another “Bring it on…” moment?). It’s almost as if someone is paying him to intentionally sabotage American foreign policy. With every speech he seems to sink himself deeper into the mire. A timetable for complete withdrawal of American forces would be a positive step- it would give Iraqis hope that, eventually, sovereignty will return to Iraq.

As it is, people fear the Americans will be here for the next twenty years- unless they are bombed and attacked out of the country. Although many Iraqis support armed resistance in theory, I think that the average Iraqi simply wants to see them go back home in one piece- we feel sorry for them and especially sorry for their families at times. There are moments when you forget the personal affronts- the raids, the checkpoints, the fear of bombing, the detentions, etc. and you can see through it all to the actual person behind the weapons and body armor… On the other hand, you never forget that it’s a foreign occupation and will meet with resistance like all foreign occupations.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice can all swear that American troops will not pull out of the country no matter how many casualties they sustain, but history has proven otherwise…

A young Iraqi woman whose weblog chronicles daily life in occupied Baghdad