Mar 22, 2007

Kids in the news

There was this story in a Reuters article two days ago...

Abdul-Muhsin said Zaman was abducted in Baghdad last month on her way home from school. Zaman was not at the hospital when Reuters visited, but Abdul-Muhsin said few children he had treated recently had affected him as much. “An elderly woman asked her to help her carry some plastic bags across the road to find a taxi. While she was taking her bags back from Zaman, she grabbed her and forced her into the taxi. She anesthetized Zaman and tied her up,” he said. The girl was held in a room with 15 other girls for seven hours before being released by police who raided the house. “They beat her, they told her that they would send her to insurgents as a forced ’bride’,” Abdul-Muhsin said.

By one account 75 percent of Iraqi children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

And then the other day there was this story. in Baghdad, two adults in a car stopped at an American military check point with two children in the back seat. The soldiers saw the children and waved the car on. The car continued to a school and parked. The two adults fled and then blew the car up, with the two children inside. Five other people were also killed.

And you can imagine that, a boy and a girl, 8 and 9, confused, scared, given lies to eat, hopes to drink, on the way home by a circuitous route, don't worries, Allah, Allah, Allah, as though that will protect them and absolve the bombers.

Last night I drove Dash to a star gazing for his class, at Crissy Field, with its spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On the way, we saw an Asian man sprinting along the sidewalk. He flew past other joggers and kept up the pace for a long time. Dash was a like horse caught by the sight of other horses. He demanded I stop the car. He got out and began running. Very fast, as fast as he could, only his head visible in the orangle gloaming, his hair waving like fire. I'd never seen anything so beautiful, all I could think of was that I wanted to stop the moment, catch it and remember it always. But he slowed down and was angry that I was driving alongside. He waved me on.

Alright, I thought, and drove to where I thought we were to rendezvous with his class. But it was not the place. The darkness was speeding up. I thought I might see him, I knew he had cut across, but he didn't appear and after two or three minutes I drove back along the route I thought he would have taken. But he wasn't there.

I drove back to another place where the class might be. Sure enough they were there, huddled together, listening to a man talking about the rings around Saturn. I looked for Dash but couldn't find him and said nothing, largely out of embarassment. What could I say? We were together; he wanted to run, he likes to run, he's like horses and then we got separated.

I looked around and thought of asking people but it seemed silly. I thought he would appear but minutes passed and then it occurred to me he would be afraid. The darkness was on. He doesn't like the dark, nor his brother. And now I felt the prepanic that drives imagination. I went back to the group and looked closely. A few children looked at me, in a puzzled way. Finally, I drove back along the road again, where I had let him off. Out of one eye I caught him. He was talking to a young woman. He broke away got in the car, he was crying, he had run on not found me and run all the way back. It was a couple of miles. He was asking this woman for help when I arrived...

Once, in Golden Gate Park, at this spot just above where the stable used to be, I left him accidentally, thinking he was with his mother in the car behind me. We had stopped to pick him up. But she thought he was in my car and we drove a couple of miles before we realized our mistake. He has a recurring dream that he is left behind.

His older brother once flew a gigantic styrofoam glider at that very spot, years before, and I had dreams that I had to leave him there....

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