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Night in the heat of summer

We witness the rape and uglification of our landscape in the name of progress, money and efficiency and all we can feel is helpless and miserable. Photo: Shutterstock.com

We witness the rape and uglification of our landscape in the name of progress, money and efficiency and all we can feel is helpless and miserable. Photo: Shutterstock.com

I recently had a very disturbing dream. Images from my past, present and future flashed before my eyes in that surreal state between being half-asleep but part awake. Suddenly, the ‘I’ who held those stories together began to disintegrate; my body parts to disperse; myself to dissolve into nothingness. All around me (was there still a ‘me’, I remember thinking in the dream?) was an ocean of darkness.

Fragments of me were everywhere, each acutely aware of slivers of others, whether friends or strangers in the life that I had once shared. All of our personal wreckages were in a whirlwind, sucked by a force much larger than us into an infinite abyss. I woke up sweating, with the distinct feeling that the world itself had been lured by the goddess of the Night to be trapped in chaos and confusion until a figurative Dawn would break.

A bizarre dream, but that in my waking state, immediately seemed to make sense. It was the morning of July 16 and my dissolution of self – of my body, of my story, of my soul – reminded me of that macabre blast that happened in Bidnija nine months earlier. Is that how Daphne Caruana Galizia felt as her soul was released from her body in flames?

But that was too easy, I thought. As gruesome as the murder was, it is what it symbolised that is more terrifying.

“Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children,” (Lk 23:28) Christ told the “daughters of Jerusalem” on his way to the cross. After all, the dead have fulfilled their part and, from now on, are mercifully spared the ‘vale of tears’. Isn’t that why – ever so selfishly – ‘loss’ feels as if we have been abandoned to carry the burden on our own?

That’s when it dawned on me: the dream brought together disturbing fragments of my daily life. But they weren’t simply personal or mournful. Rather, they were quite real, evoking the risk of dissolution of a collective soul: the soul of my country, of my people.

We witness the rape and uglification of our landscape in the name of progress, money and efficiency and all we can feel is helpless and miserable. Out of a sense of democratic duty, we seek to participate in civic debate, only to be cynically snubbed. We try to enjoy our beaches with family and friends but lurking in our brains is the persistent thought that, in our name, men, women and children are being allowed to drown in those same waters.

We notice families moving in garages because they could not afford the next month’s rent. We lament the poverty of mind that makes so many of us impotent to have an opinion outside the tribe. We bury our head in the sand (or should that be, the dust of our lucrative construction industry?) because, as movie-worthy murders hit the news, we know that it’s become hard to trust anyone. We inhabit parallel universes, constructed around contradictory narratives and only venture out to engage in confrontation.

In the heat of summer, we have accumulated an impressive list of signs of societal decay. Life goes on, we console ourselves. But the risk is of drowning deeper into the chaos and confusion of Night. Then, there won’t be much else to do but painstakingly try to put together what we have spectacularly allowed to collapse.

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