Category Archives: Travel

Enchanted

It feels a little heart-aching to be finally ready for something you’ve needed for a while. I didn’t expect it to feel that way at all. I just thought, if you were ready for it, then you will go for it with all your heart and not look back. Right now, after years of trying to move on, and failing to, the fact that this time around, the attempt at moving on was very smooth, kind of makes me feel sick inside. Or it could be that I need sleep and less caffeine. I am not sure.

I was on a trip yesterday with a bunch of people I do not know and a friend. Mom joined as well. It was nice to be driven around for a change. I socialized. People seemed interesting and seemed interested in talking to me. With some, a common ground was non-existent. With others, it was very much the opposite. Sharing some personal interests and hobbies made the conversation flow easier. I was, just like any other day, being myself. What was different, though, was their reaction towards me. Like I was interesting and approachable. It was something I was not used to. I was enjoying my time. They were genuinely passionate people. We toured, we drank, we ate, we bonded. It all went better than I thought it would. Much better. A little unexpected even.

So, here I am. The day after. I am at work, and things are still going on the same way. People here are reacting different. It is all positive, and to a certain extent of flattery. I am a little overwhelmed. God knows this never happened before. I was never the one people get interested in. I am interesting, but that’s what me thinks about me. That’s it. It was a little secret between me and myself. But now, it feels like that secret is somehow revealed , definitely not by me. Other people seem to want to be in on that secret.

I keep thinking this will go away soon. It was all accidental. At the same time, it feels nice knowing that someone is interested in knowing me. I did not get new boobs, nor am I dressing provocatively, nor acting differently, nor putting on beautifying make up. It must be something else; Something at a deeper level. That’s how it is supposed to be, isn’t it? At least, I hope it is.

Anyway, my theory is this: that old bearded guy that sold me breakfast and a couple of souvenirs yesterday definitely put a spell on me. Yea. That’s exactly what it is.

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Here is a montage of photos I took on the trip.

It was sunny. There were cats. There was wine.

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Part One: Herstory

The last childish and innocent memory she recalls was the one of the twins’ birthday party. The one with the huge Mickey Mouse Cake. Sitting for the official exams was the last stressful memory she had. After that, everything happened quickly, as if in a blockbuster movie. War, bombings, refugees, ships, sinking ships, crying children, sad goodbyes, tearful mothers, angry and helpless people, long journeys, new beginnings, humble return to the motherland …

There is a huge Lebanese community in Sierra Leone. Some families have been there for ages and some were relatively new. She was born there. Went to school, had a few selected friends, went to the beach on Sundays, talked to the waves, and learned how to play the piano.

This is all she knew. This is her life.

Civil war reached Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Plans to leave the country were in place. Except, when you have thousands of people desperate to leave, in a country at war with itself, things get a little confusing. The only ‘safe’ way to get out was by sea. 12-hour waits under the sun for a turn to get on a rescue ship repeated over four days, eight people living in one hotel room, getting separated from her father, surviving in a foreign country thanks to good people’s kindness, leaving behind friends and mentors, no goodbyes, no contact information for anyone, reaching a homeland with no home, seeing her family disbanded and almost brought to financial ruin.

And now, she writes this. Thankful for being alive. Thankful for being surrounded by family and friends. This is 16 years later. One thing she did not intend to do though, was have a huge chunk of her memories buried so deep, that she lost all connections to her past self. No trackback. There were no bread crumbs to follow to find herself again. Or were there?

Previous post about this matter: Surviving Stolen Memories

Reviving Stolen Memories

I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where I lived for eleven years. I left when the city became unsafe to live in due to civil war. The war had been raging in parts of the country for years until it reached Freetown, the capital city in 1997. I find myself there again, after 16 years. I did visit a couple of times during this period, however this time I am staying for one month with my brother and his family.

Although I’ve visited Freetown several times before, I never really did the things I needed to do. You see, I spent all my childhood in one house in Murray Town, from which I was suddenly snatched. There was no time to say goodbye to my friends, teachers, or the life I would never get to live. So, after fleeing the country for many years, coming back to it always felt like a journey of self-discovery that I never dared start. The first couple of times I visited, I had the chance to see my childhood house but not my toys that where thrown away. I had the chance to see my old maths teacher in an awkward encounter which I hoped would be more meaningful and emotional. I felt nothing worth mentioning. Nothing I did seemed to affect me after I came back here. One would assume I would have found some meaning and comfort in all that. But I didn’t. I had left the country and erased my previous life without any thought, as I adapted to my new way of life in another country.

It is all different now. All the influential people and experiences I had in my life prior to the war are still as vivid in my memory as they always were, except I am not as passive This time around. I want to meet my old math teacher, Mr. Pratt, and have a long conversation with him about the wife he used to tell me about ( back then, she was his fiancé) and about his life. I want to meet Mr. McWain and tell him that I am not an english major student but I have an awkward passion for writing poetry and online blogs. I want to go visit the house that also served as a classroom of my now deceased music teacher, Mr. Wright. He was a great mentor regardring life as well as music. He patiently taught me how to play the piano and recorder. He was older than my other teachers, and thus, was the wise one, in the eyes of my 9-year-old self. I regret being shy back then, because that stopped me from being myself and thus not appreciating such a passionate teacher. I want to visit my old school. I want to go to the Sierra Leone Museum, the first museum I ever went to.

This time, I want to be aware. I want to find some comfort from my past life. I am older, and things tend to have more meaning now, I want to revive my childhood memories of a life that was stolen overnight by terror and fear.

Note: Most people in Sierra Leone, women, men, and kids, had a horrible and uncomparable situation in this civil war.

I will leave you with a picture of the natural beauty of Sierra Leone.

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