Monday, December 29, 2008

When tragedy has a human face

I am, by nature, a very sympathetic person.... Politically, I stand to the left because I always want to "share" with other people, because I see people as equal, because social stratification does not mean much to me. I tend to feel with other people's pain, particularly people whom I have been fortunate to have them cross my path and enrich me. OK, I admit, my stay in Kalmar probably did not make me the most popular one from the bunch - I was reclusive, too work-obsessed, introverted and did not participate as much as I ought to have in the group activities (Although I still think that the pasta I cooked was truly good!), this is not some mea culpa, this is how I am and make no appologies about it, but I write this blog entry because only this morning I was explaining to a German friend in Beirut that during the war there was always a haven of safety in the middle of all the madness and for some reason I added "I know someone in Gazza right now, I hope she and her family are safe, but I also know that there must be a haven there too...." I am by no means diminishing the internsity or magnitude of what is going on in Gaza, but I have to admit that whereas previously I was sympathetic with the people in Gazza "theoretically" and just out of sheer human altruism, today, tragedy has a human face for me - Ola, her husband and her three children. I particularly think of Rasha, her 15 months-old daughter, who is either blissfully unaware of what is going on, or - on the contrary - has her mind registering the sights and sounds in front of her. Because I am a child of war myself, I think of Malek too - Ola's second child but first son (Hence her nickname "Oum Malek") and I think of myself at the age of 10 in an war-torn Beirut and wonder if Malek will grow up to have the same war reflexes as me and my generation had. I cannot recall the context, but at some point during our course in Sweden, I said something and Saam asked me: "Are you being an optimist or a cynic Tarek?" to which I replied "I am being a realist." But, the realist in me cannot but be an optimist - maybe that's how my people and myself survived the war - and now I think of Ola and her smiling face with her luggage waiting to cross to Egypt and join us in the course - I know that, even in the deepest shelter in Gazza, this smile still resonates (Probably soothing Rasha into a tight sleep) and is the best weapon against any agression, a proof of will to live, to defy, to beat oblivion and death.

Post by: TJC

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