<\body> Stories in America: Iraqi Dentist: When will I die?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Iraqi Dentist: When will I die?

When will I die? That's the question circling in my head when I awake on Wednesday. I'm sweating, as usual. My muscles ache from another long night of no electricity in weather only slightly cooler than hell. As I dress for work, other questions assail me: How will I die? Will it be a shot in the head? Will I be blown to pieces? Or be seized at a police checkpoint because of my sect, then tortured and killed and thrown out on the sidewalk?

I gaze at my wife as she sleeps, her face twisted in discomfort from the heat. What will happen to her if I die?

I'm a dentist in my mid-20s, married to an aspiring dentist. My father fled Iraq after being threatened by both Sunni radicals in al-Qaeda in Iraq (which wanted to recruit him and extorted money for his life when he refused) and Shiite ones in Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army (because he is a Sunni). My father-in-law has also been menaced; he will leave the country at the end of this month.

In fact, my wife and I left Iraq in July 2006 and went to Jordan. But I wasn't able to find any work there, so we came back to Baghdad. Now we live here as quietly as possible, keeping a low profile. I don't use my family name anymore. (And I am not using my full name for this piece.)

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