Riverbend, the Iraqi blogger behind the widely popular Baghdad Burning blog, which was launched on August 17, 2003, and became known around the world, has finally left Iraq. She blogged about it on September 6, 2007. Before then, her last post was on April 26, 2007, and was headlined "The Great Wall of Segregation..."
River's September 6 post is headlined "Leaving Home..." and is an account of her family's escape to Syria after living under U.S. occupation since March 2003. The car bombings, kidnappings and living with the constant fear that death could come at any moment took its toll on her family. She writes:
There was one point, during the final days of June, where I simply sat on my packed suitcase and cried. By early July, I was convinced we would never leave. I was sure the Iraqi border was as far away, for me, as the borders of Alaska. It had taken us well over two months to decide to leave by car instead of by plane. It had taken us yet another month to settle on Syria as opposed to Jordan. How long would it take us to reschedule leaving?
It happened almost overnight. My aunt called with the exciting news that one of her neighbors was going to leave for Syria in 48 hours because their son was being threatened and they wanted another family on the road with them in another car- like gazelles in the jungle, it’s safer to travel in groups. It was a flurry of activity for two days. We checked to make sure everything we could possibly need was prepared and packed. We arranged for a distant cousin of my moms who was to stay in our house with his family to come the night before we left (we can’t leave the house empty because someone might take it).
It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.
notes, River's "weblog entries were first collected and published as Baghdad Burning
, (with a foreword by investigative journalist James Ridgeway
), and Baghdad Burning II
, (also with an introduction by James Ridgeway
and Jean Casella
). They have since been translated and published in numerous countries and languages. In 2005, the book, Baghdad Burning
, won third place for the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage
and in 2006 it was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson
According to Wikipedia, "Baghdad Burning has also been made into several dramatic plays, mostly produced in New York City. BBC Radio 4 broadcast a five-episode dramatisation of her blog, "Baghdad Burning", on the "Woman's Hour" Serial, on each day from the 18th of December, 2006 until the 22nd of December, 2006."
Hopefully, River will blog more about Iraq now that she is in a relatively safe place.