On a recent Sunday, I was buying groceries in my beloved Amariya neighborhood in western Baghdad when I heard the sound of an AK-47 for about three seconds. It was close but not very close, so I continued shopping.
As I took a right turn on Munadhama Street, I saw a man lying on the ground in a small pool of blood. He wasn't dead.
The idea of stopping to help or to take him to a hospital crossed my mind, but I didn't dare. Cars passed without stopping. Pedestrians and shop owners kept doing what they were doing, pretending nothing had happened.
I was still looking at the wounded man and blaming myself for not stopping to help. Other shoppers peered at him from a distance, sorrowful and compassionate, but did nothing.
I went on to another grocery store, staying for about five minutes while shopping for tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. During that time, the man managed to sit up and wave to passing cars. No one stopped. Then, a white Volkswagen pulled up. A passenger stepped out with a gun, walked steadily to the wounded man and shot him three times. The car took off down a side road and vanished.
No one did anything. No one lifted a finger. The only reaction came from a woman in the grocery store. In a low voice, she said, "My God, bless his soul."
I went home and didn't dare tell my wife. I did not want to frighten her.