By Ali Alaa Yahya, Ali Ala’a Yahya Nafi’ Al-Na’imi
We lived happily in the city of Al-Fallujah.
Our children around us played and went to their schools and kindergartens, well-supervised so we can be content for their future.
We worked day and night so we could bring them their sustenance and make them happy, asking for nothing except our warm embraces.
They played in the garden with the neighbors’ children.
When the politicians disagreed amongst themselves, the army poured its wrath on the city. The war started, and the city was bombed with airplanes, explosive drums, mortar shells, and various types of missiles and rockets, inclusive of cluster and incendiary bombs. Peaceful homes were destroyed, and the random shelling did not spare the old, women, children or young people. Schools and markets were shelled alike.
We lived horrifying days and nights, putting cotton inside the children’s ears so they could sleep. When the shelling became worse, children would run into our arms, while we waited for the house to collapse over our heads. Since the war against Al-Fallujah started on 30/12/2013, all exits from the city were closed by the army, and nobody could leave.
They then cut water and electricity supplies and prevented food, even medicine, from reaching the city, which was turned into a large prison for the unarmed civilians.
We decided to leave the city through a dirt road among the villages. It was very dangerous, and snipers from the sectarian army shot at some cars leaving on this road.
We left on the early morning of 28/1/2014 heading for Irbil. We suffered a great deal from the tough road. Our children became sick from the cold and the long drive. We arrived in Irbil at 11 pm. We suffered a great deal looking for a place to stay. We headed for Shiqlawah, and found a tiny place to stay. It was expensive and our children were deprived of means of rest and reassurance. They had no breathing space, as if they were in a prison, which affected their health and psychological state. Every day that passes, they say to us: “When do we go back to Al-Fallujah? When do we go back to the garden where we played, and the kindergarten where we went, and our friends we played with?
They became depressed. When they asked, we used to say: We will go back when the war is over. The children repeated the question with every day that passed.
Our children left their schools and friends and toys. This affected their psychological health very much, as a psychologist indicated when he said: There is no doubt that the early stages of childhood leave a deep effect on forming the child’s personality, even after puberty. As a result of what a child experienced during childhood, he becomes aggressive or quiet with the change of many factors, including the life style and family habits, particularly during catastrophes. Hence, an adequate environment must be provided, even a small part of his previous life before displacement.
O Fallujah: Does grief not have an expiration date for you, or even a warning to keep away from the reach of children?