Have you ever feared something to the point of death, but also at the same time, unconditionally and addictively loved it?
Since I was a little kid, my family and I have neverskipped a summer trip to the beach—sometimes even the winter break ones! For us, beach trips are like a sacred ritual, an integral necessity to rejuvenate ourselves after the hectic routine of school and work. Each one of us has this special deep connection with the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea. In fact, most of my childhood memories are revolved around waking up at dawn before anyone else to witness the extraordinary sunrise. My little brothers and I would race along the shore, spraying water on each other and watching the waves sweeping over our little footprints—our hopeless endeavours to catch little fish and how the gentle hits of the wind permeate through the curls of my hair while I am swinging. I still recall all of these happy sights whenever I feel down and they do, genuinely, uplift my soul.
Things kept being in the same way for as long as I can remember. I grew up by the side of the Mediterranean Sea, inhaled its breeze until I was able to comprehend the meaning of calmness. The majestic echo of the waves hitting the rocks merged with my growth and created a sharp aura around me, a sensation that balanced the fragility of my soul. You may not believe it, but I have never feared the sea, and I cannot even remember when and how did I learn to swim. It happened spontaneously, naturally; an eager toddler taking her first unsteady steps toward the water. And suddenly, something clicked—a magical friendship with one of the most captivating sights the creator has ever made, and it became my favourite place in the city.
It was, however, until that one ominous morning, four years ago, when I had to encounter a brutal sight which contravened any possible meaning of humanity that has ever existed in my mind. I heard a lot about illegal migration at that period of time since Libya, my homeland, was (and unfortunately still is) in a total chaos after the war. The Libyan coastline turned into an open border without government forces, a preferred departure point for illegal—mostly African—immigrants to escape the life of poverty and scarcity of good living conditions to what they thought, a better life. Some of them made it, but others found new shelters under the sea. However, what you hear from adults and watch on the news is not like witnessing the consequences of a human crises by your own eyes! And on that morning, everything seemed the same—the splendid sun, the kids running in the grassy playground, the majesty of the sea. Everything except for my heart and the unusual bulged lifeless body floating on the surface of the water, or what was discovered later—only some parts of it.
Back then, I had no idea that certain sights are powerful enough to cause you nightmares for endless nights, and that nightmares can even visit you while you are awake and turn your life into a misery. And for the first time ever, I hated the sea—the ideas, the choices, the circumstances—that will lead anyone to some ideas, some choices..
But the impact of that indescribable incident wasn’t only negative because I have discovered a list of new things about me I never knew existed before. I learnt how to help people and how to help myself on the way. I learnt volunteering.
After the incident, I engaged myself with different authorities which aim to provide immigrants the help they need, which was primarily mental support. It’s true you can’t figure out how some sorts of pain are like, unless you go through that exact pain. But it didn’t take me much effort to recognize their pain, to feel it—to be somehow, responsible—that I must give a hand for those who dream of reaching. My ship’s sail drifted opposite the sea, because for two summers, I skipped the family trips to spend more time with those poor people, teaching them, providing them life necessities, preaching them of how the sea will act unapologetically towards those who are not aware of their ideas and choices. And I was happy for the response, I was happy for myself. It was like rediscovering yourself while learning beautiful lessons but not in a quite beautiful way. And that wasn’t, anyway, enough to stop nightmares from visiting me nor to make my shock fade away.
But darkness must come to an end, and the sun must rise. On the third summer away from my favourite place in the city, the number of illegal immigrants was noticeably decreasing! A massive progress was taken in the matters that concern them, and you could sense the hope of a brighter future in the atmosphere. Such a thing demands a celebration for the victory of good intentions and good deeds. And how could someone who lives in a country which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea not seize its enjoyment?
And there I was, facing the sea again after a long time, but with different feelings than I had before. Breathing the familiar scent was like hugging your grandmother. I kept walking and walking, and the gentle ends of the waves hitting my skin, as if the sea was welcoming me back home! But I could still see it, a single footwear on the sand. A sight that tells you a billion sad story—stories that can change your life forever—but everyone should manage to set a space for beautiful sights to heal them as well, right? I finally released a sigh and tranquillity rushed into my vines.
All of the photos of the Libyan coastline are personally taken during the few past summers.📷