November 14, 2015

Growing Up with Bombs

We’re living in strange times.
Last Thursday, a Dutch friend of mine came over for dinner. While hanging out, her son from Holland called.
He’s asking if everything is okay. Apparently there’s been a bomb,” she said as she hung up.
My daughter had some friends over, and since none of their parents had called to pick up their children, I assumed it was something minor. Usually, after a big explosion, the first thing parents do is to get their kids back to the house. But no one checked in.

And then my son, also in Holland, called to check if everyone was okay.
The people in the dorm told me there was a big explosion in Beirut,” he said.
Now if two people from Holland call to check if we’re okay in Beirut, it must be big. But the girls were hogging the TV, and we couldn’t check the news.
Hubbie came home. Yes, he had heard that something had happened in the suburbs, but wasn’t sure if it was big. Slowly the news trickled through, and yes, it was something big. 2 suicide bombers, 45 dead, countless wounded.
A friend in Holland send me a message. ‘All’s well in Beirut?
As well as can be expected.
But Beirut hasn’t been well for quite some time now. Just like the rest of the region.
Now the girls got wind of it through their phones. You’d think they’d freak out. But no.
Oh guys, there’s been a bomb,” I hear one of them say.
Not somewhere close. Somewhere in dahiye. Not your neighborhood.”
“So no school tomorrow?”
Every time my son heard the word ‘infijar’ (explosion), he’d ask the same; So no school tomorrow?
These girls, only 12 years old, have lived through countless of these explosions. And a bomb for them is merely synonymous for ‘no school’.
While adults dread days like that, because of the unpredictability of the situation, they see it as a day off. A day when they don’t have to leave the house, and can lounge all days in their pajamas in front of a screen.
It’s probably the same in many Middle Eastern countries these days. Iraq. Syria. Libya. Yemen. Jordan. Turkey. A generation not fazed by explosions and violence, a generation not surprised by the phenomenon of people blowing themselves up.
I remember a conversation my daughter had when she was 3, with two of her friends. We were driving along the Corniche in Beirut, and one girl said (as we passed the St. George Yacht Club); “We go to this beach. A bomb went off here a few years ago.” Then we passed by the Sporting Beach Club. The second girl said: “We go to this beach. We also had a bomb going off,” upon which my daughter piped, “How come we don't have a bomb at our beach?”
A generation not fazed by explosions, violence, and people blowing themselves up.
 I wouldn’t say they’re desensitized. This is their reality.
And now Paris. The whole world is upset. Obama sent his condolences to the French president. Did he sent them last Thursday as well, to our president? Oh, I forgot. We don’t have a president.
I am slightly surprised. So is she. And she. And he. This is our reality. A reality partially created by the west. And now it looks like this reality is coming to Europe.
We’re living in strange times.


فراس سالم said...

شات مزز الصوتي
موقع سايت اب
شات سعودي توب
شات روقان الصوتي
سوق السعوديه الالكتروني
سوق عرب كوم
موقع معلومات قوقل
شات الرياض الصوتي

Gray Fox said...

Sietske..fantastic piece!!! Very real!!

reluctant resident said...

So glad you wrote this. 2007 in London primary head teacher queried why my daughter so astonished bombers seen as bad people. Living in Riyadh 2003-5 ,same as you described,bombers in her view just went to work same as all.