Sweet And Sour

Do you remember your senior year in high school? When you were anxiously looking forward to whatever it was you had planned to do? To go to college, join the football team, travel to Europe, etc. In other words, follow your dreams and make them come true. But while you were still in school something happened. Something so big and significant that affected not only you but everyone around you. You got so crushed that it felt as if the world ended for you there and then.

“The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Two months short of my graduation the civil war started in my country. At first I didn’t grasp the severity of the situation, and I don’t think any of my friends did either. I followed the news with great interest like everyone else around me. Summer came and went, and then fall and the war kept spreading to different parts. I waited for months for the schools to open, but to no avail. There was fighting everywhere. Some of the schools had been turned to refugee centers, harboring civilians who had lost their homes during bombings by militias. Others into headquarters for some political organizations. There was nothing I or my friends could do, given the conditions of the country, except to try and stay alive. But trouble found you no matter what you did or how you tried to avoid it. The truth of the matter was that there was no future for us. At least not what we had planned and worked for all our lives to accomplish. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t want to believe this was happening to me, to us but:

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Nothing had prepared us for this, nothing we had learned in school or read in books. I hated those days. What I hated most about that period of my life was to realize how vicious and cruel people could be, and the fact that we lived in an evil and nasty world was hard to accept at a very young age. Our dreams were shattered, our world was crushed. I was not happy, we were not happy.

“It is an illusion that youth is happy. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies.” W. Somerset Maugham 

Years later when I look back at that period in my life, I don’t think about it as a sad time. The memory of those days is both sweet and sour, but deep in my heart I wish the war had never happened.

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” Gabriel García Márquez


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