IRAQ: Nassim's stories
28 January 2005
IRAQ: Nassim's stories
by Peggy Gish
"I saw my friend get ready to take some cocaine," Nassim told Maxine and me.
"So I asked him, 'Why do you do that?' He told me, 'To forget.' 'To forget
what?'' I asked. He told me that he loved a woman, who now found another
man. 'What do you mean?' I demanded. 'You are young. You have your life
ahead of you. You have a good home and family. You have everything you
"Then I began to tell him my story. I told him about my first girl that I
loved, who died from an illness, about being tortured in prison, having my
ear cut and called a traitor because, in the army, I refused to kill Kurdish
Iraqis. I told him about losing my father and then my stepmother selling our
home and disappearing. Twice last summer I was almost killed. Now I am sad
and confused because a woman I loved just left for Amman."
Nassim went on to tell us about other times he responded to other people's
needs. "Two of my friends were angry and starting to fight, so I intervened
and asked 'Why do you want to fight? There is no reason to hurt each other;
you are good friends.' And soon they made up."
"I had two friends, one rich, and one poor, and I thought, 'Why doesn't the
rich one help the poor one?' One day the rich one, who owns a shop, said to
me, 'I must go away and take care of business, but I can't because of my
shop.' I suggested he ask the other man to take care of his shop while he's
gone; he needs work. So he did, and both thanked me."
When Nassim came to our apartment today he was visibly depressed. But, as he
told us these stories, he came alive. His inner joy and love began to break
through, and we saw evidence of an inner strength that has kept him alive
and his spirit uncrushed.
This same strength had come forth when, after the war, he started an
organization to help other men who had their ears cut for being
conscientious objectors to war. I remember him telling me a year ago, "I
find hope and new life in helping others."
He is one of so many wounded persons here who has suffered the violence and
oppression of more than one regime. Yet the movement of God in his life was
obvious to me. I pray that God will continue to nourish the seeds of hope
and self-giving love that have been growing in his life for years.