Memories of an Iraqi Translator: A Russian Photojournalist in Iraq

Arabic Literature (in English)

Novelist and translator Layla Qasrany remembers Dimitry Chebotayev, who died ten years ago in May:

All the cameras have left  for another war…

                         —Wisława Szymborska, “The End and the Beginning”

There is something thrilling about dying before the age of thirty, to depart before illnesses and  dental cavities makes ones life a legend, just like Jim Morrison,  James Dean, Keats and Jimi Hendrix! So when Dimitry Chebotayev, an AP cameraman, died at 29 in the war zone of Iraq, my sorrow was tinged with jealousy, for that year I was turning forty, I was in war zone, and if had died, it seems no one would’ve cared.

It was 2007, and I was working in bloody Baqubah as a translator for the US Army. I had survived shootings and roadside bombs, I witnessed the wounding and deaths of servicemen and women—and innocent Iraqi civilians. All the memories…

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