Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A decade of yesterdays

Memory, sand, and time. Remembering absent friends in Somalia.

I stare at the calendar, surprised that all those yesterdays added up, in a glacial snail's pace, and now it is eleven years, two days, and nine hours past. Each day is a casual sort of purgatory filled with ..... what? What words describe it? The thing I say to myself, again and again, is those four days sort of occurred outside of time, at least that's how it feels. I experience it as sharp and bitterly now as I did over a decade ago. They are with me still, the eternal present, and I expect they will always haunt my dreams. What words can detail everything that was Somalia? Give me some words that aren't clich├ęs strip from either comic books or bad movies.

I trip over Mogadishu on a surprisingly regular basis. Once I found a Somali nickel, right here on Pearl Street pedestrian mall in Boulder. Another time I was flipping through a magazine, in the checkout line from Hell, and suddenly there was a picture of Randy Shugart's body being pulled through the dusty streets of Mogadishu. Then there was the store, a computer game store down at Flatiron's Mall, where I felt bitter rage boiling up when I saw they made a game of Mogadishu, it was all I could do to not explode into a mindless sort of rage and ruin. Once again I hoped Mark Bowden would rot in Hell. Like the book and the movie wasn't enough for him. Isn't it nice that people can reap an enormous profit from the pain and death of other people?

Unlike Mark Bowden, I was in Mogadishu when the events his book is centered on took place. I had been in country three months when it happened. I knew a lot of the men that died on Oct 3-4 1993. Except the killing started before that movie, well before. Start with twenty-five Pakistani's getting waxed in a single ambush and work your way up. The morning of Oct 3rd, three American's and a Somali National translator were blown to bits by a command-detonated landmine. I was one of the people required to examine the scene. Even this little bit of writing about it remains a struggle, sort of like that horrible plunging feeling you have in a sudden fall.

I miss you guys.


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