All this business about Swine Flu is a little annoying. What's the worst that can happen? We all die. The world comes to a screeching halt. And that's it.
Someone recently said to me, "It's only life, Sumeera." But I think that is wrong, It's LIFE! and then, it's only death.
The older I get, the lower tolerance I have for scaredy-cats. Of people who don't discover the world because there is a terrorist or a disease or a goblin behind every door. I am sick of politicians and opportunists preying on this fear.
This past Friday it was May Day and work was cancelled and we were advised not to venture out. Since I still had my conference to attend I had to go out and look for a taxi to take me to the conference hotel because the metro had been shut down in fear of terrorist attacks. I could not make it out of my neighborhood because there were police blockades everywhere. After trying to talk to a few of the taxi drivers who were stranded on the side-streets I decided it would just be easier to walk the 5kms to the hotel. As I started my walk I saw more and more police. They were standing on the sidewalks, leaning against cars, sitting on their motorbikes, they were everywhere! One street was completely lined with huge travel buses. Inside them waited hundreds of riot police who would be ready to respond in case things got messy. At the end of the street were two huge tanks facing the Bosporus.
That night I decided to stay in and now I wonder if I regret it. The next day I read that there had been riots right by our apartment and police had used tear gas and water cannons to calm the crowds. Out there life was happening and instead I was holed up in my apartment. I already have forgotten whatever it was I was doing but I am sure if I had gone out into Taksim square I would not have quickly forgotten what I saw.
I am not saying that we should live our life with complete abandon, without concern for life or limb but I am saying that at the end of the day if I am to die, I would rather have lived first. I don't want to be the person wishing they had said something, had been somewhere, had done something.
While Feraz and I were in the Liverpool Museum there was a quote: "History will be kind to me, for I shall write it." I can't say with certainty that this will be true for me but I can say that in my history I will not live in fear of swine flu, of monsters, of words or of judgment. And, for me, it will never be only life. If anything, that is something to fear.