Last night I was watching the movie “Three Kings” on TV. In fact, I was half-watching if I may call it so; for my mind was roaming the globe in pursuit of an idea I’d just had then, which I deemed a matter of “to be or not to be” on the personal level.
As I was watching, I kept checking the clock so I can switch the channel to Malcolm in the middle; because, to tell you the truth, the movie fell short of what I had expected, so I wasn’t that much involved. I had seen a similar movie before, same theme: the American soldiers in Iraq during and after the Gulf war. And although there was no George Clooney in the movie, I think it was more interesting.
Towards the end of the movie, my 11-year-old brother came in, also waiting for Malcolm in the Middle. As he watched some of the movie, he asked me: “Between who and who was that war?” I replied that it was between Kuwait and Iraq. His jaw dropped at that, and he was like: “How come? They are both Arab countries!”
I didn’t bother much with an explanation, nor with mentioning the U.S role in all this; maybe it’s because I thought he was too young for this crap. Instead, I said coldly without even looking at him: “It happens”.
He didn’t say anything about it for a moment, as if he was trying to wrap his mind about that new fact. Then he asked again: “Who won the war, Iraq or Kuwait?” I thought it was a tricky question to answer, and I discovered that I hadn’t really thought about that. It’s not a Yu-gi-Oh duel after all, so I thought the easiest answer was to say it was complicated.
I don’t know if that was a proper answer. I wanted to tell him afterwards that both lost, then I thought about what happened to each country after the war, but I still felt that both of them lost one way or another.
Anyway, this conversation reminded me with myself in the days of the Gulf War (1990-1991). I don’t really remember much of it, something like vague flashes. Perhaps the clearest memory I have of the war was when we were visiting my aunt’s house one afternoon. My mother was helping me put on my shoes as we prepared to go home, and she said: “Let’s go home quickly before the war breaks out”. I was startled, and I can imagine my eyes widening as I asked her: “War! With whom?” She said in a tone that suggested I should already know that, “The Jews, who else?”
In another distant flashback, I would wake up sometime in the night to find my parents sticking duct tape on the windows. I don’t remember when I learned the reason behind that was to prevent the glass from shattering around, in case the area was bombed.
I don’t know why I’m remembering this right now. And I don’t know if my memories of the more recent wars are less vague. Now that 1 year passed after the war on Lebanon, I find myself very thankful that my memories of war as a child were a blur. Now that I knew what war is, that I understood the heavy toll it takes on everyone and the pall it casts over the life of human beings, I am really grateful I wasn’t much aware of it. Imagine realizing that your house could be shattered by a stray missile at any given time. Imagine watching all kind of ballistics hovering above your head. Worse yet, imagine being actually hit by them, watching your family die in front of your eyes.
Yes, the war has come to an end, but I wonder if the scars it managed to leave will ever heal.
Originally Posted on Friday, July 13, 2007 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2007/7/267125.html