The Third Option

By Nour Hamid.

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

Life is all about making choices; choosing to live in your home country should be normal. If your home country is Iraq though, things look slightly different. In a war-torn Iraq, the ‘normal’ is to chase an opportunity to leave.

Thousands are seeking a stable country via political asylum and, if luck holds out, work. However, there are some who, although presented with the same opportunity to leave, have turned it down. Instead many have chosen to live and raise their families in ‘the cradle of civilization’, considering a battered and bruised Iraq as preferable to pastures new.

To those people, and I am numbered amongst them, life is worthless without Iraq’s morning breeze, the delicious Masgouf fish, the wonderful nights spent on the banks of the Tigris River, and many, many other things that cannot be found anywhere else but here.

In other parts of the world, young men and women spend their 20s enjoying life, travelling and exploring what this world has to offer. It is worth considering that while some of them were busy deciding what party to go to over the weekend or what conference to attend, my friends and I were busy surviving war.

We have spent the best years of our lives speculating when and where the next explosion will take place and how to avoid it. We have counted dead bodies on the street and played hide and seek with the rat-a-tat-tat of random snipers punctuating our play.

These experiences might seem unbearable to some, but they are part of what defines us, shaping our personalities and our lives. On a personal level, although horrendous, living with an expectation of daily violence is part and parcel of the lifestyle I have chosen. Iraq is my home and I will not allow a bunch of fanatic savages to uproot me.

If I, an ‘owner’ of this land, give up, then who will resist? There are many of us ‘educated youth’ who know we need to continue to blaze the torch of hope forth – if not us, who?

However, for many of us, although our passion is absolute, the reality of daily living provides a running and contrary internal commentary.

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