BAGHDAD — A sandstorm always makes a dreary Baghdad drearier. The sun turns to a moon in a funereal gray sky. Time surrenders its procession, as dawn melts into a cloudy day that feels like dusk. Common these days, the storms bring a gauze of grit that settles over everything, and the eyebrows of Pvt. Bassem Kadhim were no exception.
Standing at a checkpoint at the entrance of the Baghdad Central Railway Station, he leaned toward a car. His eyes narrowed, as he cocked his head in recognition.
Um Kalthoum, the Egyptian diva of another generation, played on a scratchy cassette. It was the song “Siret al-Hob,” her peerless voice soaring over the strains of a forlorn violin.
“Let me listen for just a moment,” Kadhim told the driver, “then I’ll let you pass.”
April 1, 2009. Read the full article >From The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners for International Reporting