I remember reading about past wars in history class when I was in school. Even though at that time the Iran-Iraq war was going on just around the corner – so close that our windows would shake when bombs fell close to the border – it still felt like war was something that was happening somewhere else to someone else. However, just shy of 2 years after that war ended, Iraq invaded Kuwait.

August 2, 1990.

It’s been 26 years but still that date has not lost its significance to me.

While for others the invasion of Kuwait and the short war that followed in early 1991 was something that was happening somewhere else to someone else — for me … well, it was happening to me, my family, my friends … to the country that I was born and raised in … to the country that I called home.

When my family and I returned to Kuwait – a few months after liberation, we returned to an empty home. No belongings, bare cupboards, one of my father’s canvas paintings had been sliced and shredded, kerosine everywhere, and a musical card open in the corner of my bedroom with happy birthday eerily playing as the battery was about to die. The skies were overcast by the oil well fires and the coastline that we would look out at every morning was interrupted by the sight of the burned beachfront restaurant (Danah) right across from our house.

Kuwait 1991 Kuwait destruction4

July 1991 – a burned Danah restaurant (the view from our apartment window on Balajat St.)

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was a pivotal moment in my childhood. It symbolizes a time when somebody else’s issue/problem/ideology/greed surpassed the wellbeing of anybody else. There was no concern¬†about what kind of impact seeing military tanks with their guns pointed right at our floor-to-ceiling windows would have on my 6 year old brother. There was no concern about the impact the sound of explosions would have on us decades down the line — forever tinging the enjoyment we could ever have from a stunning fireworks display. There was no concern. It was somebody else’s war. However, it was our lives that were affected.

Despite it all, we were so very lucky. Yes, we went through a lot — but we were so lucky.

Others … others during the Gulf War and all the wars that came before and have come after … have not been so lucky.

If my experience has left such a mark on my heart and in my mind then I shudder to think what others who are currently suffering through the violence and destruction of war are going through. I don’t think there is any way you can escape unaffected.

August 2, 1990.

A day that constantly serves as a reminder to me that your whole world can turn upside down in an instant.

Kuwait 1991 Kuwait destruction2

Kuwait Towers – July 1991