I don’t need your civil war

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been afraid of war. I know that sounds like the kind of statement that would come from a war-experienced person. But no, my life has always been pink and happy. The idea of a war, however, has always scared me.

I remember, back in sixth grade, in 2001, when the World Trade Centre was struck, there was speculation of a Third World War. I didn’t know much about war, but I was scared. The next day, when I went to school, the topic of the WTC came up in the first period. Miss Juliet was our class teacher and she was generally talking to everyone about it. No one seemed perturbed except for one girl, who began to sniff and cry. Yeah, it was me.

I don’t know why I was upset. For the rest of the week, I had nightmares of everyone I know being dead. My house was a rubble of cement and bricks. I woke up one night and threw up because my dream was that bad. I don’t know if it was the same fear of war or if it was something else. This hazy memory brings to my mind a quote I read in The Sense of An Ending, “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.

Anyway, I prayed that no one would start a Third World War. I had no sense of international relationships back then. I didn’t know who was pissed off with whom. I didn’t know which country was deemed bad and which one, good. I knew Osama Bin Laden was a bad guy. And I was scared of him. I once dreamt that he was in my balcony.

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A Star of David bookmark for Exodus. Most of you may know it as the branding that was stitched onto Jews’ clothes during WWII

But that’s history. Fast forward err… 14 years (Ok I’m getting OLD). Yesterday, I finished reading this book, Exodus, by Leon Uris. The book had sat in my cupboard in the Will-never-read-these, don’t-know-where-they-came-from section forever. Just out of curiosity, I opened the book, read a few lines and I was hooked. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a classic novel that documents the history of Zionism (influx of Jews into Israel from all over the world) and the creation of Israel. It’s part fiction and part truth. It’s a powerful book with deep characters. While reading it, I felt like I was part of everything. I felt like I took part in the creation of Israel, a region that is portrayed as overwhelmingly powerful.

The book documents the numerous wars that happened between Arabs and Jews over Israel (especially the Civil War), about the British pretending to help the Jews, but never really helping, about WWII concentration camps, about unrest, about terror, massacres, air raids, genocides, murders and destruction of any means of livelihood. And yet, it’s a story of victory, faith and courage.

Through out the book, I kept thinking, “Oh this was all so long ago. These people are such barbarians. Nobody hates the Jews any more. Thank God it’s all over.” The book was published in 1958 and it documents history right from the 1800’s until 1949 I think. I don’t know why I thought that was long ago. It was some 60+ years ago and the world hasn’t changed much since then. I was but a fool to think it’s all over.

I feel so naive to have convinced myself that during those wars, people were uneducated and they just wanted to be dumb and fight for land. I look around me now and I see mindless violence everywhere. It’s so frustrating! One day, I see that 147 students have been massacred in Garissa University, Kenya, and the next day, I read that India is evacuating people from Yemen, because some two sects of the same religion are fighting each other for power. Actually, the intensity of the situation hit me only today when I read this personal account of what it’s like to be in Yemen right now. It sounded strikingly like a girl in Exodus narrating a war scene. Added to that, today, I saw my own country, amidst all the heroic evacuations, has turned into the first country to use weaponised drones for crowd control.

I just don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. I wrote this post to simply rant about how ridiculous everything is. I recently saw a picture of a bunch of men standing over a writhing cow, whose throat was slit off. Why? Beef ban. Because the cow signed some papers and made the ban? Why are people so bloody irrational all the time? Why do they let their minds be directed by anger and violence? Why can’t they pause, think and talk it out? What ever happened to the idea of a compromise? Or forgiveness?

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