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Two nights ago at three in the morning, Hassem came by the house to see me. It was the first time since the kidnapping that I had seen him. I was shocked by the impact the ordeal has had on him. He appears to have lost 30 pounds in six weeks and his face is drawn and shriveled.
He tried to smile but it didn’t work. He stayed less than 5 minutes. He said very little as we sat at the same kitchen table where we had often had tea as he educated me on the ways of Iraq. This time we had only water. Finally he said: “John, I don’t know what is happening in my country. Promise me you won’t leave.” Then he pushed himself away from the table. On his way out the door he grabbed my hand and said: “I’m not saying goodbye, John. I’m sure we will see each other again.” I replied: “I hope so, Hassem. I really do hope so.”
And with that he rushed out the door and drove away. I doubt very much I shall ever see him again.
John Connly Walsh, a frequent contributor, works for an American company in Baghdad.
copyright 2005 John Connly Walsh