Today is Valentine's Day.
And it is also the anniversary of the "Bahraini revolution."
If like me, you did not pack and leave the country to go freeze somewhere in Europe, then you are right in the middle of it, not sure what will happen later, not even sure what is happening right now.
Sure, I get e mail updates and text messages letting me know where the danger is, where the protests are taking place, which roads were blocked by the police or taken by manifestants.
But it is liking watching it from far away. Like you are doing. Or not doing, as no one ever asks me what is happening here anymore. We are no longer news. For the rest of the world, we are old news. For me and my neigbours, it is all happening as we speak.
You can't remember what it is all about? I will refresh your memory and give you a quick overview of what is happening now - from my perspective ( this is important, because you may have a thousand other opinions and ideas about it).
Last year, exactly on February 14, the anti government group began protesting for social/political and economic equality. The ideal outcome would be to overthrow the Monarchy.
Many other Arab countries were protesting. Many governments feel. I think they had a point, but also got caught up on the "momento".
There were peaceful manifestations. There were military tanks from our neighbour countries all over the roads. Violence started.\The military force "lost it" , invaded the protesters camp and several people died.
Bahrain was featured on CNN. Bahrain was featured on the BBC. Everyone heard about this island. People were calling me from all over the world to find out how I was. If we ere safe here.
Today, exactly one year later, no one else remember we exist.
We got used to the military check points on the roads. We hear helicopters roaming over our homes every night. We here tear gas shootings. FAbio even found an empty tear gas canister in front of our house. He keeps it as a souvenir.
We got used to protests and police retaliation.
On a typical day, we would have a road blocked by burning tyres in sign of protest anti government. then we would go to a mall or a restaurant later that evening and smell tear gas in the neighbourhood.
From afar, we see black smoke rising to the sky in various places in the city, and we already know that protesters are playing their part. Soon after we see police cars trying to get to the place before the protesters are gone. It is like a cat amd mouse game.
But no one else asks about the situation here. We are no longer news. The novelty wore off. It is just watchin an old movie playing over and over.
When I see all these things happening, I think:
- Oh! This road is blocked, I better go around the block...
Simple as that, because this is already part of my routine.
If someone invites me to a party or for a coffee, I simply ask:
- How is traffic in your area? Are there any tyre burning today?
My daughters often see people with their whole faces covered, dragging large trash cans to the middle of the street. They will burn the trash and block the street. When the girls pass by, they do not react. They just go about their business as normal.
I think we've grown accustomed to them, and they have become accustomed to ignoring us. They are not our enemies. And we do not represent their enemy either.
Every time I end up trapped in a protest against or pro government, I feel pretty safe. I am treated with respect and everyone is friendly towards me. Many people apologize for the inconvenience.
I am not even sure how i feel about all of this any more.
At times I feel nothing is going anywhere. The anti government people say they will only stop when the Prime Minister resigns. I very much doubt that will happen. His political connections are very strong and all the other Gulf countries would not have a problem financing Bahrain indefinitely. They have more than enough money for it.
The pro government people say they are over tired of it. They say there are too many demands, too much of a fuss and this mess must end.
But nothing really changes. One pulls, the other one pushes and nothing move. The strategies are the same, the reactions are the same.
Truth to be told, nobody ( in the expat world) really knows what happens behind the scenes.
Some say the police goes around the villages at night and make a mess over there. Other swear the protesters are becoming more and more violent, attacking the police and even throwing Molotov cocktails at cars with Saudi Arabian plates.
I keep repeating my experiences: everyone has been kind and considerate to me and my family.
And today, on the anniversary of the revolution, the tire burning, the manifestations and the noise are much stronger - and it is very early. Things will only get worse. The police is also ready. They are everywhere.
The girls did not go to school. Fabio and I decided not to leave the house.
For you, everywhere else,Happy Valentine's Day! We'll celebrate ours here at home, close together, eating popcorn in front of the TV.
Há 21 horas