Tuesday, 24 July 2012

At Arbil that fateful February...

I did a stint in Iraq in 2004 immediately after the Second Gulf War, as a Project Manager for a Telecom Infrastructure company, setting up a fledgling mobile communication network. 

I happened to be in Arbil in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) when, in a double suicide attack on Eid-ul-zuha day on 2nd Feb 2004, the offices of the two main political parties (Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) were simultaneously attacked by suicide bombers, killing a total of 117 people. The bombers had come to `celebrate' Eid, and blew themselves up as they were embracing/kissing the party chiefs, as is the custom.

I happened to be in the vicinity of the KDP office that day, and saw first hand the devastation that occurred. 57 people died in that office. Since I was with a British engineer, we were mistaken as being part of the BBC crew, and were allowed into the building. The scene was ghastly, and is forever imprinted in memory. The following lines were written that day...

Death, be not proud
That day you came treacherously
Like a traitor, with a Judas kiss

A single death is tragedy
A broken home, a shattered dream
Senses numbed, paralysis….

Fifty seven deaths are a statistic
A news item, a TV report
Political hues, conspiracy…

And yet in this rubble, I see
Scattered among the broken glass
Buried under the falling bricks…

Fifty seven homes destroyed forever
Fifty seven dreams that died still born
Don’t talk of causes, not to me….

Man has learnt to swim like a fish
To fly like a bird, to soar the skies
But when, my Lord, will he ever learn
To walk on earth like a real man….


  1. Very well written Harish. We seem to be so unmoved by so many deaths reported in the daily news papers, hardly thinking of the shattered families left behind. Their struggle to rebuild their lives under new conditions....it just gets registered as yet another unfortunate event in our minds.

  2. Beautiful poem, Harish! This one didn't make me smile!