I know that it looks like the Middle East is just a rolling ball of conflict at the moment, but there are so many differences between countries in the region that in many ways it is nothing more than regional, and they share nothing more than geography. So while Bahrain is geographically closer to home than anything else has been for me, life goes on as it did before.
Nonetheless, with the mister on a plane for most of yesterday and thus incommunicado, I felt the familiar twinges of the vague uneasiness that I lived with for many years returning. A shortness of breath, a fluttering stomach, a sleep not quite deep enough. It is not a full blown stress and because it is attached to nothing in particular, it is not necessarily something on which I can act, but it manifests itself in sighs and rolled eyes when one of the lads reminds me he needs twenty dirhams for a school fieldtrip and I only have fifteen in my purse. I slam my bag on the table when, because the strap has stretched, I can’t quite reach my keys without first putting down the cake eldest lad volunteered to take to school, the scarf which I need in the office because the air conditioner is crap and the yoghurt I’m taking for lunch.
Last night, I managed to use every bowl in the kitchen – soup, salad and mixing – doing not very much at all (though see volunteered cake above, and know that when I started the cake I was intending to bring it to work to share with lovely colleagues), which led to a great many hours standing in front of the sink an occupation complicated by the demise of the hot water system (yes, again) which meant I had to boil the kettles each time the water had to be changed.
I have given myself a stern talking to this morning, because, you know, boiling kettles blah blah blah…get a grip woman. There’s earthquakes, nuclear leaks, floods, conflict. And no one is even reporting on the Ivory Coast. But then there’s the other thing, isn’t there, because really how do you go on boiling the kettle when others are living through such difficult times. Watching terrible things unfold, it seems on the one hand wrong just to keep on with my simple, privileged life, but on the other, disrespectful not to live this simple, privileged life to the full.
I really like what Deborah wrote only a few weeks ago: ‘and then carry on’. I’ve reminded myself of it many times.