Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.
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On August 2nd 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and my life changed forever. Last night, I watched a documentary on Al Jazeera (Video embedded above). It was surreal and brought back memories of my childhood in Kuwait.
Even now, I can feel the heat radiating from the summer sand like a hot oven. I can smell the sizzling meat on the Shawarma stands. I can hear and feel the hot oceanic breeze. My childhood memories in kuwait seem so tangible – idling in Az-zour beach, watching the merchants mix spice concoctions at the crowded Iranian souk (markets), riding bikes in hot parking lots, running amok in the vast desert plains, playing invented games for hours and hours, being forced to learn the torturous Bharatnatyam and learning to bake my first cake with my math teacher.
In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, I was happily enjoying my summer vacations in India with my siblings and mother. But, my father was in Kuwait. He was a power systems engineer and the Iraqi soldiers escorted him to the power plant everyday for several weeks. Then, one day, he decided to drive his 1985 Toyota corolla through Iraq all the way to India. Absolutely crazy but desperate idea. Fortunate for him, the car broke down in Baghdad and he had enough money to buy a plane ticket to India.
Though, my family escaped the actual war without loss of life, we lost all our material possessions except for a few photos. Life just snapped. We were uprooted and planted in an unfamiliar, crowded metropolitan city in India – Chennai. To add insult to the injury, a close relative had committed suicide. The next three years was a struggle for every one in my family.
Society functions in concentric circles – the inner most circle is the family and it is surrounded by the extended family, friends, schoolmates and work colleagues. Civic bodies such as the city, state and country form the outer most circle. Indian parents tend to protect their children (especially the girls) in the inner circle, often limiting their interactions with the outside world. The war cracked my inner circle and hence opened up the opportunity to interact with people in the outer circles all at once. It was the most transformative experience of my life. Before the war, my life was so narrow in scope; Kuwait seemed a paradise. The War burst the fantasy bubble. In a strange way, I owe my metamorphosis to the War.
Almost 17 years after the war, thanks to the diligent efforts of my classmates, especially Ruby, Orkut and Facebook most of my classmates have reconnected and there have been several reunions since. Unfortunately, I have not been to any reunions so far 😦 but will make it to one soon. Inshaallah 🙂
Source: Al Jazeera
Well written, Chitra. And it’s so true and I am sure most of our classmates (and other children who grew up in Kuwait) can identify with the metamorphosis part. Life in India was so different from what we had in Kuwait. Though we knew we were Indians and were bought up on Indian values, it was a cultural shock to me. The first year was really, really hard and then I learnt how to balance the cultural differences.
I haven’t been able to make it to any of the reunions either but I’m in touch with our classmates and made new friends 🙂
Inshaallah, I will be able to make it to one of the future reunions:)
Hey Chitra! well written……I never knew these things about u!really can’t identify with this 100 percent, as I have never experienced this kind of disaster, but am sure it must have made you so strong a person…..is this why you choose to make documentaries on real isuues that touch people?? am sorry I still haven’t seen the video you asked me to see…..hope to find time soon and give u feedback!
@Sandhya – Thanks. Hopefully we will all meet soon. Watch the video from AlJazeera.
@Priya – Thanks. No worries about not watching the video. I do have strong feelings about man-made disasters particularly WARS. Wars do put things in perspective for you. Several nations in the world are affected by civil wars and ethnic conflicts that have and continue to affect many generations. Solutions and compromises are so over rated.