December 12th

These blog posts are thinning out to say the least, partly because I'm busy, and partly because I've already said a lot of things I wanted to. Which is better, repeating yourself endlessly, or staying silent once you've said your piece?

Quote of the Week

  • "This house has been far out at sea all night, |The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, |Winds stampeding the fields under the window |Floundering black astride and blinding wet |Till day rose; then under an orange sky |The hills had new places, and wind wielded |Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, |Flexing like the lens of a mad eye." - Ted Hughes, Wind

Saturday, 19 April 2008

A sobering experience

Get ready guys, this one's special.

I was on the KL - Dubai flight on my way to four days in Frankfurt (and later back to Leicester), and met a 27-year old doctor, travelling alone. She was from Iraq.

Over our trip I garnered that she works in a hospital with frequent military casualties and lives in central Baghdad, that people don't leave their homes after 4.00pm, and travelling alone is considered taboo, or just plain suicide.

She had come to Malaysia for ten days on holiday, and was amazed by the way Malaysians live. People going out at night was new to her. Imagine that - so many Malaysians are leaving the country for because we think of it as unstable. She, on the other hand, was amazed that Malaysians can even go out for a cup of coffee when we feel like it.

Despite having lived under Saddam and the American occupation for nearly all her life, she decided to travel here alone. Somehow, I know that in my position I wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have the balls to travel across a battlefield.

Somehow over the course of the flight, she managed to affect me profoundly. This was a brave young soul, learning, loving and living despite the worst of it. The fact that she could keep her spirits up even when she was returning to that mess...well, that just stuns me. Would I be able to look at the people who invaded my country without hating them? She does. Would I be able to see past my cultural barriers into the hearts and minds of the soldiers, the militias, the gunmen? She did. She may live by the rules of her society, but her mind has left those constraints far behind.

Knowing a person who might be dead in the next few days has put my life into sharp focus. She has almost nothing, but she makes as much as she can out of it. I have practically everything - and I had better do something with that.