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September 20, 2018

Why should I apologise for being alive?

FLIGHT TO SAFETY : People run for cover during the terrorist attack at the Westgate mall.
FLIGHT TO SAFETY : People run for cover during the terrorist attack at the Westgate mall.

Five weeks ago my life changed, circumstances changed, perceptions shifted and I became a person who started thinking of ‘what ifs’, something I don’t usually indulge in. I know I’m not the only one who has been affected after the Westgate siege but I also know each one of us has a unique journey that we embarked on from that day.

It wasn’t just about the people who were inside the mall. Almost everyone I have spoken to seems to have a family member or friend in there, or they were on the way there and something came up and they weren’t able to make it, or were stuck in traffic. Each one of us, whether inside the building that day or not, have been affected in one way or another.

I thought journaling the entire event would help. I’m really big on doing things like that – writing it out to get it off my chest and move on with life, but for some reason I’m not able to write beyond the point when East FM’s cookery competition had just started. I cannot bring myself to write about it because I start shaking and my heart races fast. I gave journals to my children as well to vent out on and my son managed to write whatever he could, draw some pictures and got on with it. My daughter doesn’t let me see her journal, and I’m OK with that too, because I’m not sure I’d want anyone to read mine. Well, not just yet.

I’ve been for counselling and healing. I talk about what happened and have rationally worked out that circumstances were beyond my control. Everyone of us inside that mall was a hero. No one stopped to think about religion, colour, height, weight, political or financial status or any other such thing. We were mere human beings helping each other out to the best of our abilities. Some were strong, others were vulnerable, but we were all in this together.

Many have spoken to me and given me so much love and encouragement but I can pinpoint three who made it seem to me like I shouldn’t have come out alive. These three made a point to get in touch with me and said things that made me initially gasp in disbelief but eventually I realised such hatred and vile behavior only pinpoints their own inadequacies. No one’s loss was greater than the others. We cannot begin to compare what all of us lost that day, including our dignity and sanity too. When you religiously preach that death is the true final journey, you should practise your spiritual wisdom beyond your Facebook status updates.

Also you may have lost someone inside Westgate but don’t make others feel guilty for making it out alive. You see, had you had a great relationship with your loved one who passed away, you wouldn’t be looking for scapegoats to blame for the death. Everyone who died in there perished because of terrorists. Not because someone didn’t think of dragging them along to where the ones who got out alive were hiding.

Also you need counselling more than any one of us for all this vitriol you have in you. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for being nasty to your loved one who unfortunately passed on that fateful day.

I’m OK. I’ve vented. I’ve written this, gotten it off my chest and feel lighter. I will move on. Have a great weekend. I’m thankful to be alive!

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