Thursday, April 26, 2007

Perspective: 'All life is waiting'

DAMASCUS - Only her eyelashes can be seen in profile, fluttering obsessively like the wings of a butterfly. She is like her own striking, svelte Kaaba, surrounded by an ocean of pilgrims - full black elegantly draped chador over jeans and a discreet mauve pair of pointy shoes, full hijab, only the heavily kohl-rimmed eyelashes trying to decode the torn-down messages in Arabic script, and then the official's request for a pile of abstruse documents. Inevitably she has to sit down, like everyone else, in the antechamber of purgatory - the cramped, dingy room of the consular section at the Iraqi Embassy.

Her first words, when she breaks her silence, are "Waiting ... All life is waiting." Then her story shapes around familiar contours...

In a less harsh universe she would have been the female lead in a Hollywood tear-jerker - those kohl-rimmed eyelashes under the black-veiled face filling the screen, and the audience, with awe. In unforgiving real life she is just one more Iraqi refugee - one more whose story will never make it to the front pages of US corporate newspapers or be carefully re-enacted by glamorous Diane Sawyer lookalikes.

Read the rest at Asia Times