No more.

Imagine holding a bbq in your backyard. The food is passed around, people are laughing and then the conversation switches from how well the garden is growing to politics. You’ve heard the Prime Minister/President is in town. Immediately everyone begins to speak in a hushed tone, you gather closer together to hear the story. One of you has some information from working closely with the government and everyone hangs on every word. You begin to whisper, just incase the neighbours hear. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it.

We whispered in Libya. 
We whispered because even though we really liked our neighbors we were never sure about their relationship with Gaddafi. And we never asked. You didn’t ask. We whispered because we’d heard the stories about people who said too much.
We were told on arrival in Libya that he was to be referred to as “The Leader” – we giggled, we thought they were joking. They weren’t. There were pictures of him everywhere, on every corner, his presence was a constant, at every shop counter, every gas station.
After we left Libya, it all felt a bit surreal. I’d tell people about the whispering, about the hold he had over his people. I would never have been brave enough to blog in Libya.
Last year, before Tunisia and Tahrir square erupted and Syria became a daily news story, I came in contact with Khadijateri. I scoured through her photos of her life in Libya, the beautiful pictures of “the farm”. I read about her family, her cooking and her work. I made a few comments here and there and asked her for a Libyan Soup recipe. I loved her sense of humor and the way she spoke so candidly about her Libyan family (particularly her sister in laws). She was funny and upbeat, her personality shone through her blog. 
And then the world changed. Libya changed. Khadijateri disappeared.
I wasn’t the only one who feared the worst. There were many of us leaving regular messages of concern. As the fighting continued and got closer to Tripoli we all kept our fingers and toes crossed that her and her family were safe. I wondered how they were going for supplies. Was food still getting in? Did they have the basic necessities? 
And then one day, in late August, she reappeared. 
She reappeared and said although they’d taken away her internet she’d still written. You can see on her blog she has posted from March – August, each has its own tab.
Her story is incredible. If you want to know what it’s like to watch basic supplies in your supermarket dwindle to nothing, to line up for a day for petrol/gas only to go home empty handed, to see your son head off to fight for freedom. Go and read this blog. Can you imagine the schools closing, your job disappearing and NATO planes flying overhead each night?
Khadijateri, thank you for sharing your story. You stayed, while everyone else fled. You kept caring for your family, writing and cooking your peach cobbler. You continued to pray that Libya would some day be free. 
And today – he is gone.
There will be no more whispering.

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  1. Thanks so much for this. I’m on cloud nine… and I’m crying too. Tears of joy and happiness for Libya’s freedom and tears of sorrow and pain for those who lost their lives and for those who lost loved ones. And tears for the sweetness of seeing this wonderful tribute… thanks so very much.

  2. Stacy Rushton says

    I live in Malaysia and also read the email as a post in the New Straits Times, one of the English dailies here, that Khadijateri was asked about. I knew this could not be the real story or, at the very least, the whole story,  and was grateful to read your post and follow the links to the truth.  This is the beauty of blogging. Real people telling us how it really is.  Thank you

  3. I too love the KhadjiTeri blog! She is one brave lady. My favorite post of hers is “My Big Fat Libyan Wedding.”

  4. Wow! I am saving the reading for tomorrow but I can tell it will be worth my while. Thank you for sharing your wonderful brave blogger friend. x

  5. I have a feeling you’re going to love it. The writing that she did while the internet was disconnected makes for incredible reading. It is such an eye opener on how war effects every day people.

  6. Mine to! I love her – that post made me cry. What a journey.

  7. Stacy, thank you so much for this. You’ve just highlighted how hard it is when you’re living elsewhere and having to decipher the newspapers. We’ve also lived in KL, I know the newspaper you’re talking about. It brings a whole new meaning to “deciphering” the news.

  8. Stacy Rushton says

    Hi, Kirsty. I must clarify that it was not printed as a news article but as a letter to the editor, signed by one K.T. Maran from Seremban, NST, 17 October 2011.  Even the New Straits Times is not THAT bad!

  9. Anna Bartlett says

    Thank you! I’ll definitely head over to her blog now!

  10. Kath Lockett says

    Brilliant blog article – went immediately over and commented about the wedding invitation.  

  11. Paul Askew says

    Yes, I would recommend the KhadjiTeri blog too.  I had a couple of  friends who worked in Libya in the 80s and 90s, one a geologist and the other an archaeologist, so I knew some of what daily life was like for people in Libya.   I hope they can build a better future now!

  12. Heading over to start reading. Thanks for sharing, and writing this post.

  13. I can’t even imagine how scary it must have been to live there, to not be able to speak openly. Very moving post.

  14. Thank you for the link to such an amazing blog.
    One question, do you really think the whispering has gone in Libya? So many times in history a tyrant is just replaced with a new tyrant, power has a tendency to corrupt even those who appear to be honest at the start. Do you think that part of the world can ever be stavble?

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