Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Gulf War: Part I - ‘Life was good’

The Gulf war of 1990, left everlasting scars in the lives of thousands of people. Be it on the Kuwaitis, the Iraqis, the Indians, the Sri Lankans, the Americans or of course on Little Geethu.

How can one joke about a war? Well, I am not trying to find humour in a catastrophe. This is just a feeble attempt to give a different perspective to a war. A perspective of what war meant to a third standard girl, an 8 year old then.

We went to bed as usual, in a free Kuwait that night, on the 1st of Aug, 1990 (If I remember right). Little did we know, the very next morning we would wake up to a bloody and war infested Kuwait.

It was the TV which went haywire first. And anything to do with the TV not working meant tragedy to us kids. We were expecting Jhangar, the robot which could transform into a car. But what welcomed us was the colourful vertical strips and the awful beep sound.

I knew that meant bad news!

Slowly, as the day set in, news of the invasion kept coming in from various sources - Radio, phone calls, house maids, friends.
News of Iraq invading Kuwait the previous night.
News of the prince and the royal family having fled to Paris or some place safe.
News of the airports & ship ports being shut.
News of bank accounts frozen.
News of Kuwaitis being slaughtered.
News of not being able to contact your dear & near ones.
News of being stranded in a country hardly 7000 square miles in area.

The first thing dad and mom did was to literally raid the grocery shop (of course they paid!) and stock our house with cereals, pulses, food, chocolates and what not! Then, they stacked the windows with mattresses. I still don’t understand the logic of how a bullet that could pierce a concrete building, would not find its way through a fibre foam mattress! Anyways!

As the days went by, we started having a lot of uninvited guests at home. Mostly the bachelor crowd - Watchmen. Drivers. Electricians. Plumbers.
Men who suddenly longed all the more for their families far away in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and places I had never heard of before.
Men who dint have money.
Men who starved.
Men who had to wait for my mother to take mercy on them and feed them.

The 3 of us, me, my elder sister and brother took many more years to understand the seriousness of the war. To us it only meant no school and no homework. We were never asked to study. It felt like an extended summer vacation. Moreover, we were never scolded at. We could eat all the chocolate we wanted and drink all those fizzy drinks. Movie tapes were littered for us to watch and we were never asked to take our noon naps. Of course, there was only one strict instruction which we were to follow - “Do Not Waste Food”. But that was not so bad, considering the rest of the stuff we were allowed to do.

Who said the war was bad?

Things had changed.

For us, Life was good.


  1. Nice! This post, in a way, reminds me of the movie Life is Beautiful. Moving onto next part!!

  2. Did not see this till now. Nice work, Geetha !
    The stacking of mattresses against windows was to avoid glass pieces littering the floor, if there was any fragmentation due to explosions.