By Mohamed Zefzaf
By Mohamed Zefzaf
Boston – A cruel, senseless act has descended upon Brussels, one of the most picturesque cities in the world — a place I know so well.
Today, Brussels is paralyzed, on edge, gripped by horror. The long-anticipated terrorist attacks that many feared have materialized: first, two explosions at the International airport at Zaventem, and then, another in the metro station Maelbeek in the very center of Brussels. As of this writing, it is reported that 34 people are dead and over 230 injured. If the past is any indication, these sad numbers will probably continue to grow.
I pause as I write these words; an infinite weariness fills my heart. This is very personal to me.
I spent the greater part of my childhood in Brussels; and as I watch on television, from thousands of miles away, here in Massachusetts, the images of familiar places destroyed by the carnage, I am numb. My concern and prayers go to all the people in my old city, and especially to the school children apparently barricaded inside their classrooms. What must they think?
Fear is a most potent force. As is normal nowadays, it will be inevitably exploited by the usual demagogues on both sides of the Atlantic — and well beyond. This vicious circle lights a hateful fire that goes nowhere, because tomorrow, and next year, and the next, we will find ourselves, once again, in similar situations. Clearly, the responses so far have not worked.
So many emotions cross my mind. It is hard to go about my usual daily routine. It all seems so pointless, so removed from what is happening to the place where I grew up. I reminisce about the love and tranquility I knew once in Belgium. I think of the peculiar sense of what is called Belgitude, a feeling of fatalism and joy that is acquired by all those who have been touched by this small country. Today that Belgitude overtakes me.
I am greatly concerned for what is yet to come. As always, recriminations and finger pointing are sure to follow. I turn off the television. Complete silence. For some reason, I think of the writer Joseph Conrad, who upon his visit to Brussels captured its essence by describing, ” … a dead silence, grass sprouting between the stones.”
Indeed, horror has come to Brussels. Its vestiges are between the stones, like a river of sorrow, leading to an uncertain future. Vive la Belgitude.
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