Thursday, February 24, 2011

Childhood memories replaced with nightmares

I have had a transient life growing up. Different schools, different friends, different, countries, different cities.

One of those countries where my parents lived and I visited for fifteen years was Libya. I studied in the Indian International School in Libya for a few years. That is until my parents realized that school was a piece of cake, and all my teachers were their friends. So, on one hand they gave my peers and me homework; on the other, they partied with my parents over the weekend. Perhaps, it was difficult to take their role seriously. For all of us.

I joined a boarding school in Mussoorie, India. But my brother and I continued to visit Libya during our vacations.

I don’t think my brother bears any attachment to the country. He didn’t go to school there. None of the kids were his age. If anything, my friends would ask him to do things for us: lay out the tent, accompany us, play silly games. It was understandable why he felt nothing when my parents decided to move back to India. I still remember I was so upset. I had bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t believe my parents would want to leave the place where I had spent the most precious years of my life. My childhood home.

Back in the days, India wasn’t what it is today. And Libya was an amazing place for foreigners (unlike today) until you didn’t mess around with the local people. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi kept the country safe. Moreover, none of the stringent rules and regulations applied to foreigners. No burqa, no restrictions on beach wear. My parents’ generation is so guilt feeling and God-fearing that they were the best immigrants, ever! They kept to their South Asian community mostly and mingled with few European and other Asian communities.

I would have to say life in Libya was a mad party. Best food, best music, best movies, best company, best beaches, and ultimately best vacations. Mankind, as we know, is so inventive. Because there weren’t too many restaurants or tourist destinations or movie theatres within our city, we created fun. Literally manufactured magic: beach house rentals, mouth-watering BBQs, home-brewed liquor (strictly for the elders), swim in the Mediterranean Sea, never-ending picnics, crazy dance parties etc. etc. Most women were incredible, inventive cooks.

I couldn’t believe my parents wanted to abandon all that and move to India where only special guests were fed “chicken.” With me, it's all about food ultimately.:-)

But that was fifteen years ago. Slowly, I started to miss the place lesser and lesser. These days I barely think of Libya. But the past week has reignited feelings. Here is a poem that I wrote on Libya: Libyan memory; Libyan nightmare. It was published earlier this morning.

Today when I see what’s happening in Libya, my heart aches. Gaddafi, who once defended his people against foreign rule, has vowed to suppress a mounting revolt against his 42-year rule. He is killing his own people?! His forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators. Ruthless murders, innocent lives taken. Brutality galore!

The army, apparently, is firing random people on the streets of Tripoli (the capital). Many fear collecting corpses, lest they be shot. And tomorrow, there will be a general protest in Tripoli. Here is a video of a mass burial site in the city. Human Rights Watch said at least 233 people had been killed in five days of violence in Libya, opposition groups put the figure much higher.

Someone asked me why I am so bothered by what’s happening in Libya. I said, “Perhaps, this time it’s more personal. This past week of uproar has stained the pages of my childhood memories with nightmares.”

More until next time,


Copyright © 02.24.2011

"Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.” ~Author Unknown


rajivx said...

it's not surprising that"childhood memories" is a rather relative term, coz given any set of events, people placed in the 'inside' or 'outside' tend to look at the very same events differently. for instance, even to my jaded memory my earliest recollection of Gaddafi is of a tyrant with the sole redeeming credit of standing up to the US inspite/irrespective of whatever was unleashed on him. of course,all memories of international events are tainted by the "media version" ; but then,I still feel that in the earlier days the media was more honest as it was'nt usually "owned" although, yes, some industrial houses ran their own stuff even then.
still, a childhood memory can be lovely or painful !! luckily, my parents kept stagnant in Delhi for over 20 years ; it was only me who shuttled between Delhi/Muss so I always felt sad about people such as the forces' folks, who had to keep moving from place to place every 2-4 years.....

Anonymous said...

I could not have agreed more with you on this sensitive issue.
I wish I could prevent the cruel realities of today, replacing the pleasant memories that persons like me have been carrying all these years.

Anonymous said...

Very nice! I too share similar feelings.