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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
My Day in Iraq: Mature student
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Iraq coverage on 7 June, we heard from people from all walks of life, all over the country.

"Tarik al-Ani", a Sunni mature student living in the restive Anbar province west of Baghdad, described how he tries to maintain a normal life for his wife and eight children.

The situation is now quite normal here now. Today was much better than a few months ago around election time.

I went to the market today and things have improved greatly. We have much better electricity - before we had to rely heavily on our generator - and our water supplies are good.

Even the insurgents seem quiet and the coalition soldiers are not as active. We don't hear the American F-16 planes screaming overhead as much any more.

I finally got my exams done - I'm studying law. A few months ago I could not even travel to Baghdad to take them as the traffic was so bad.

The exams I did for my final year went well - now I'm just waiting for the results!

Normal lives

A few months ago, we spent every night moving across the river where I live to houses outside our village, as it was not safe near my house. There were many mujahideen [insurgents].

I try to stop my children seeing too much bad news on the television because it is not good for them - there are many bloody scenes I do not want them to see
Tarik al-Ani
Now we are back in the house and the children are back at school. They want me to take them for picnics all the time. They seem intent on living a normal life.

I always try to explain to my teenage son and his sister about politics - they watch television and are excited about the new things happening in our country.

Of course, it is exciting for their parents as well.

High prices

We have had some problems with our youngest because of formula shortages. Some foodstuffs for children on the rations cards don't seem to be getting to the market.

The brand of infant formula we use I had to pay 15,000 Iraqi dinars [$10] for today - before it was 2,500 dinars [$1.70]! But I must pay. I have to feed my child properly.

This afternoon I was working on my house, sorting some piping in the garden.

I cannot bring strangers to work with the family for security reasons so I've been doing the work myself, but my young son helped, as did my two nephews.

One is in his last year of computer college in Baghdad. He finished his final exams four days ago and is now hoping for a governmental job, because after 2003 the salaries got a lot better.

Later, we had dinner with all the children. Afterwards, the six youngest watched television while the eldest two studied - they have final exams in July.

The children love television, especially cartoons. The younger ones hate the news and whenever I try to watch them they complain to their mother. My seven-year-old loves Tom and Jerry. He watches it all the time.

Before the war

I try to stop them seeing too much bad news on Iraqi television channels, because it is not good for them. There are many bloody scenes I do not want them to see.

Masked insurgent stands by destroyed truck near Ramadi
The Anbar province has been a hotbed of insurgent activity
It's still very hot here. In the evening there was a storm and sand blew in from the desert. It was impossible to open the windows as sand would blow in everywhere.

Life seems pretty ordinary these days. But before [the war], people used to gather on both banks of the Euphrates near where we lived, to swim and play and run about.

Now, nobody goes because there is still little security, despite things improving since January.

We also used to go every Friday to a little village in the desert to fish. Now, these activities are out of the question, for now at least.


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