A revolution happened here

View over Havana, Cuba 2000 © Tanya Clarke

View over Havana, Cuba 2000 © Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 51

I was born just before a revolution.

In 1969 my Mum and Dad lived in Tripoli. I was born in August. On September 1st rebel military officers staged a coup, deposed the King and Colonel Gaddafi was named leader. The kingdom became a republic. The army moved in. There was support for the coup especially amongst the young. Sometimes I ask my Mum and Dad about that time.

Dad says he remembers driving into town to buy groceries and being shot at by young, bored soldiers. He laughs. To me it sounds terrifying. My Mum says she remembers tanks rolling through the streets. She remembers it was frightening. We lived in my grandparents’ house out in the suburbs. With everyone out at work during the day, my Mum and I were at home by ourselves. My Mum was very young, I was a tiny baby (and I was tiny at 6lbs 6oz) spending our days out in a quiet area of the town. No one was sure whether we were safe. I can’t imagine that. How that must have been. Finally my Mum and Dad decided that we should return to England.

I went through a stage of wanting to visit my birthplace. I talked about it with my Grandmother. But she died and we never got there. The world then, politically, shifted again.

I am a Brit but wasn’t born there. With Brexit and Trump there’s much discussion about nationality. Most of it unhelpful, hateful even. Now I am living in a different country. I have a new perspective on nationality, entitlement and white privilege. All things that existed in the periphery of my life back in my ‘home’ country but I knew, comfortably, that as a white privileged woman with a valid passport, no one could make me leave.

Now we want to live somewhere else my perspective has shifted. The people that flee countries for safety and a better life work hard to make that change. Take a moment to imagine how that must be. We all must examine our true feelings about immigration. We have all come from somewhere else. We’re all human after all.

Feeling brave? Want to share your own version? ‘Let it go’ in the comments below.