For 50-year-old Rustom, one emergency is taking priority over the other. This battle-hardened soldier, who spent 16 years serving in the Peshmerga, the army that defends Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, had come to India a week ago to undergo a spinal surgery. Though the surgery was a necessary one, Rustom now regrets coming to India and spending his days in the safety of air-conditioned halls of a hospital in Gurgaon. All he wants to do is return to his country and defend his region. His country is at war.
“I came to Gurgaon a week ago because of the medical facilities available here. But in that time, news came that violence has erupted in my country again. I want to go back to save my people. We are scared that the conflict in Mosul and Tikrit will soon reach Kurdistan. We live with a sense of fear. Back home, one man has three children. If 30 men die, 90 children are orphaned at once”, he said.
There are others from the war-torn country at Fortis Hospital in Gurgaon, who, like Rustom, want nothing more than to return to their homeland. Their reasons, though, differ form Rustom’s.
The journey from Iraq to India has taken them away from conflict. But the thought of family back home makes them restless.
“We wanted to stay in India a week longer. We feel safe here. But now we want to go back. I have left my mother and sisters in Baghdad and my wife and children in Basra. My family has not stepped out since the fighting began,” Jahmir, who came with his father who required heart surgery, said.
For these Iraqis, getting information on the happenings back home has been a struggle. If Syed Jamil Al Mousi constantly dials his colleagues at the Ministry of Wasit, Jahmir keeps flicking through television news channels for more news. Others have no contact at all. “I left my children and parents behind. We have not seen them for a week as the internet in Wasit is not working. I want to go back to see if everything is alright,” Hazar Ali, also from Wasit, said.
In the international ward of the hospital, conversations revolve around the future of Iraq. “Whether or not Baghdad will suffer the most, is something we have to wait and watch. Baghdad was once a colourful neighbourhood. These religious conflicts have taken over the city,” Mousi said.
Jahmir agrees. “These religious wars are eating into Iraq slowly. We have nothing left in our country other than oil. So many men die, women are widowed and children orphaned.”