I was on my way to pick up my elderly mother for a medical appointment today. As I drove along, my cell phone rings. While I do my best to avoid a car wreck but at the same time answer phone, I see the caller ID says that foreign number again; yesterday, I missed a call from that number. I had a hunch...
I answered. Clicks. A man says hello and I say hello back. More clicks. "Hi, Mom!" It's Eva! *Big smile* I had a hunch...!
Eva explained the phone number has a Great Britian 'country code' because it's some sort of 'call through' satellite phone that gets it's 'boost' through that country. Uhhh...OK...! Anyways, she was surprised to hear that Meran had gotten an email to me about his appendix already. She further explained that as a contract worker, he normally would have been treated at the Zahko hospital and that would be that, but when the military personnel he works with heard, they said they wanted him to have the best so flew him to Mosul to their hospital. Ironically, however, it was the Iraqi doctors who diagnosed him correctly over the onsite army medical personnel in Zahko! By the time he got to Mosul, the doctors there said that he got there in the nick of time; 30 more minutes or so and it would have burst. That could be serious. Thankfully, it was in time.
Eva said that since Ramadan has started, it's become rather boring. She was going out visiting and filming before, but now stays home all the time. She explained that the society is still very patriarchal there, and they worry about women going out during the holy month. She is spending some of this time watching DVDs she bought (many films still in our theatres here are already available there on the black market for $1 or so) She also had a chance to get online at an Internet cafe, which is very cheap there; a half hour only cost her about 5 dinars, or about fifty cents. Also, there is the housework! Meran's uncle's wife is well along in a pregnancy and Eva is helping out with chores. She said that washing clothes is quiet an experience there. They have a two-part machine they use; one part agitates after you hand-fill with water and soap. Then you rinse in another tub before loading in the second part which spins the water out; the spinning part is called the 'dryer', although all it does is get excess water out...the clothes still have to be hung. Suffice to say, it's more like the old days here. Thankfully no washing on stones in a river, but definitely more work-intensive than we're used to anymore. I smiled because I remembered Mom and the wringer we had growing up (at least until I was a bit older anyways, thankfully!)...glad not to have to do it anymore, but knowing it would be a memorable experience for her.
She said that the American presence is everywhere. You go to the market, and the soldiers are there. Meran has many enlisted men as friends, she has met several, and they enjoy socializing with them because Meran is 'Americanized', and Eva of course is a bit like the sisters, wives, or daughters they may have left behind.
Eva told me that she has taken video footage already, including of a village they visited that is much like the one Meran grew up in. She said there are orchards there of pomogranates, apples, etc. that are very good to eat. Meran has been told that he can have some leave after initial hospitalization recovery from the appendix operation. During this time, they want to go north to where his village Bigdowdi was so Eva and the boys can see the area. Bigdowdi itself no longer exists, being literally bulldozed and razed to the ground by Saddam's forces in the late 1980's after Meran's family and neighbors fled. The other village they went to after that, they hope to visit also.
Eva explained that after that, she may be coming home, earlier than originally planned. That is because there are recently announced plans to disperse translators further south, and that Meran is likely to be stationed once again in Mosul. Mosul is NOT a safe area for Eva and the boys, so they know if that is what happens, then at that point Eva will return. As Eva said, "I came not just to visit, but to be near Meran so he can come visit us on weekends. If he is stationed in Mosul, there's no point in my staying here; I won't be able to see him here anymore than I could in Nashville!"
Eva & I discussed how she plans on using her raw footage. I mentioned talking to a representative from BridgesTV, promoting her to them. She laughed and said, "Go, Mom!" But she initially said, "Really?!" being rather surprised they'd be interested. I explained that they're openly soliciting content, wanting to provide opportunities not only to creative persons like herself, but also for themselves to discover interesting work for broadcast. Why not? Eva could end up freelancing for broadcasters like them, putting her degree to use while at the same time enjoying the process on projects she likes (not to mention flexible schedules as a busy Mom...)
So there you have it...Time passes quickly, and the experience of being there will soon become a memory.