23 Jul 2011

Life changed

Oslo, 22nd of July at 15.26 local time.
I heard a faint rumble on my way to buy a newspaper. I didn't think much about it. It was just bad weather. Nothing new about that.
I went back to the coffee house where I was sitting with Anan, discussing a synopsis we were working on. Everything was normal. We read the paper, drank coffee, two toddlers were running around playing hide and seek among the table, the music was a bit too loud and so was the sound from the huge coffee machine. It was hot and humid. I work so much better with rain than heat, so I was hoping it would start to rain soon.
The phone rang. Anans wife was telling us that something happened at one of the newspapers, VG. She said there had been a huge explosion in VG's building.
I couldn't believe it. My romance publishers buildings is just opposite VG. My children's books publisher a block further down. I have friends and colleagues in the area, I shop there, I walk there often. It's smack in the center of town.
Anan talked to his wife, and I logged on the Net with my phone. At first only confusion, then that the explosion happened either inside or just outside the government buildings.
Our first reaction was to go down there, to see for ourselves. But the newspapers all said to keep out away.
So we went home and turned on the TV.
The pictures and stories just got worse over the night. It was impossible to believe it at first. The usual question kept coming up. How is this possible?
Everyone was speculating. Was it some unknown Jihad-fraction? Was it Mullah Krekar? Was it because of Afghanistan or Libya?
Then the reports from Utøya kept coming in and getting worse by the minute. Who were this people? Who could do something like this to a summercamp filled with young people?
And when they said this was done by a man dressed in a police uniform, a Norwegian … suddenly this wasn't done by fanatics from the other side of the world. We couldn't say it was Them anymore, this was one of Us.
The man lived a few blocks away from where I live. I might have seen him in the shops and never given him a thought.
It's not possible to understand why he did what he did. It's defies any kind of explanation. He might try to justify himself by saying it was a political attack, but attacking children the way that he did has nothing to do with politics.
Today we went downtown to see for ourselves. To make it real in a way. The bomb area was sealed off. There was soldiers in the streets. Soldiers with automatic guns. They all looked painfully young to me. All the shops were closed. People were silent, talking in low voices..
Later, when we waited for the tram home, I noticed people talking to each other. Strangers asking: Where were you? Did you hear the explosion? Isn't it horrible? And he's Norwegian! How could he?
There is nothing we can do to make sense of his actions, we can only try to take care of each other. We can look at the darker aspects of our culture and say no to it. We can turn away from this senseless action, and do our best to not let people like that win.
I have faith that we will manage to do this.
I was not directly affected by this. Nobody I know was killed or wounded, and for that I'm grateful.
My heart goes out to all those who have lost someone. For them life has changed forever.

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