Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Killing Time Is Over

I read an article in the Washington Post this morning, "On the Menu In Baghdad, Fresh Hopes." The story relates the tales of Qadori, a restaurant owner and his restaurant of the same name that a suicide bomber attacked in 2005. The blast killed seven employees and 20 customers. The owner was unhurt, but suffered a stroke, moved to Kurdistan, and finally moved back to re-open his restaurant this year.

I imagine Qadori as a diner - a place people go for ample, simple, tasty fare. This is the food of life, the recipes of mothers and grandmothers, the love of sharing food with friends and family, the smells and tastes that comfort and endure.

A bomber tried to end all of that. Today, the restaurant is in a fortified section of the city near a checkpoint. A guard tower stands nearby. Customers are patted down as they enter the establishment. One of the employees who survived the bombing says he feels safer, but not entirely so. He came back because he felt he could help Baghdad revive.

Qadori, the owner, walks among the tables greeting his customers. Qadori, the restaurant, is back in business. One of the customers says, "The killing time is over. The situation is better."

I read those words, and my own heart responded with an emotional I hope so. This war has been terrible for America, but it has been catastrophic for Iraq. It has exposed bigotries and hatreds, fissures so deep that Iraq may not survive. Our troops have suffered and died, but the Iraqi people have been pulled into an internecine, murderous hell. Maybe, hopefully, fitfully the killing time is over. It can't happen too soon.