10/11/2005

Khalid Jaharr: Tell Me a Secret: I found myself...

Sleeping in a grave-size space, defined by two walls touching both my head my and feet, and surrounded with human bodies touching me from both sides, in a way that hardly leaves any chance to move at all during the long… long night, in a 12 square meters room stuffed with 35 people trying to sleep, and to hold themselves together in order not to fight…
The whole thing started when I went to the university to pay my tuition fees, the thing is that the engineering campus is separated from the rest of the university with few kilometers, but for such administrative issues, students should go to the headquarter, and this is what I did. I entered the main campus and went to the financial department to pay money. I started the paperwork process, and then reached to a point where we needed the director’s signature to finish the paperwork, but she was in a meeting. So, the employee asked me to go and waste an hour inside the campus till the meeting is over, and I did.

What would you do in such a case? Go to the café? I tried, but was totally bored after less than 15 minutes, and then I don’t remember how an idea flashed in my head like a big light bulb: internet!
Of course, what is better than the internet to kill time?

I remembered there was an internet café inside the campus. I rarely came to this campus during the last five years. I think I came like three or four times only. Anyways, so I went to the internet café and did my regular tour: raed in the middle, riverbend, etc etc..and then I was bored again. I left the internet café heading towards the financial department again.

In my way, I was stopped by an old man, with a hateful face. “tfa`6al” he said (it means something like: “how can I help you?”) I was a bit surprised, I said “inta tfa`6al!” (meaning: “how can I help you?”) he said: where are you going? So I knew that he must be some kind of a security guy. I should have guessed from his tone, he sounds like a typical saddam-style security-man.
“to the financial department, to pay my tuition money” I said.
“where were you right now?”
“ in the internet café !”
“where is your ID?”
“at the campus entrance reception, with my mobile phone” (this is common now, in all governmental buildings you have to leave your mobile phone in the reception, you cant take it with you).

Please people; don’t be surprised because of all these questions. It used to be very common in “Saddam’s Iraq” and it’s very common in today’s Iraq.

Anyway, the old hateful man decided to escort me to make sure I was telling him the truth. Once we entered the financial office, the employees there talked to me spontaneously, so he knew I was there before and he left. I paid the money, took the receipt, and left. When I went back the campus entrance reception to take my mobile and leave, I found out that the mobiles’ closet was “mistakenly locked” as I was told. They were waiting for the guy that has the key. “He’ll be here in any moment” I was told.

I sat there waiting for my mobile phone to be freed. Then suddenly, after few minutes, someone came and asked “where is the detained guy?”

The other security guard pointed at me!!!

I was like: ehhhhh..sorry there is misunderstanding here, I am not detained, its only that the mobile phones closet is mistakenly locked!

“come with us, we have some questions please” they said, and I went with them, searching for answers inside my head…

They searched me very carefully; they took my shoes off and searched them, and even took my watch. They read every paper I had in my pockets, and asked me questions about my origin, nationality, and many other questions. Then they asked me to unlock my mobile phone so that they can check it out. At that particular point I had had enough, I said I wouldn’t unlock it except if it was in front of “the person” who is hiding somewhere in the campus, the one asking all these questions through messengers.

They didn’t like my response.

Another guy came after a while, and asked me: who did you contact on the internet?
“my mother and brothers” I said.
He didn’t look satisfied.
“keep him” he said.

Next thing I know, a very fat policeman entered the small room, asked me to face the wall, searched me again, took my money and glasses, put a bag on my head and handcuffs in my hand (I still have the marks on my hand till now). While my hands were behind my back and my head in a bag, he made me run for about a minute, till we reached a police van, where I was forced to get in. The car starting moving towards an unknown destination…

You don’t want to know the swearing and curses I heard all the way, but maybe you’ll want to know that no one beat me.

We reached a luxurious building, I could tell from the marble on the floor. The floor was the only thing I could see at that point through a very small space between the bag and my nose. Then I was led to a room after taking an elevator.

I was afraid to be taken to the torture rooms directly; I was praying to find someone to talk to, to explain to him that this all is nothing but a little silly mistake!

God answered my prayers.

Instead of being lead to some underground dungeon, I was taken to an air conditioned room with a lot of people. I could tell from their voices they were interrogating someone, I couldn’t see anything still, but they released my hands.

I understood that this person they were interrogating, (Sa’ib as I knew later, he was in the same cell with me), did a very awful thing. Sa’ib came to the ministry of interior, and went to the office of a high ranked officer, and tried to remind the officer of Sa`ib’s own father who served with this the officer long time ago, hoping to ask this officer for a favor. The Favor was to order the transferring of a friend of Sa`ib, a cop, to another governorate.

The officer didn’t remember sa’ib’s father, and refused to help him. Then he ordered his guards to take Sa’ib for interrogation!!!

Untill I left the jail, Sa’ib was still there!

They beat him a lot, “how dare you enter the office of an officer just like that?” they were telling him.

Back to the air-conditioned interrogation room, I was still facing the wall, my eyes were covered, and my brain working so fast, trying to see behind the darkness infront of my eyes.

Then it was my turn:))

“Finally!” I told myself!

They started by asking me: “What’s the connection between you and the London Bombs?” !!!
And I was like: “haaaaa???!!.”. I said: “London Bombs???! Nothing!”

BANG!!
...........

Tell Me a Secret: I found myself...

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