Friday, January 07, 2011

What It Means To Be Bahraini

I’m looking up to the sky and I see these little parachutes coming down like rain on us, swaying in the cool December breeze. Attached at the end of them are little packages and boxes bearing treats, goodies and gifts.

Next to me my friends are yelping in excitement as they see the national guard parade passing by, followed by a fleet of decorated trucks. Bahraini flags, emblems and red and white confetti is everywhere. Some young ladies dressed in traditional gowns are tossing mashmoom leaves on us as they pass by on their trucks, while the Ardah is not far behind.

Later that day, we would be standing out in the desert, staring up into the starry nightsky, waiting for the next firework to explode into a million tiny suns, in red and yellow and white and green. Everyone “ooos” and “aaahs” at the sight.

This is how I remember spending National Day. It used to be an occasion that we looked forward to as kids. The National Day parade was a memorable highlight, while the fireworks was something we’d wait for anxiously every year.

Bahrain has come a long way since then. It’d be naïve to pretend that nothing has changed. A lot has. For better or worse.

The ever expanding economy, the aggressive development and influx of foreign influence has had a great impact in reshaping Bahrain and reinventing the definition of a what it means to be Bahraini.

Being a Bahraini is to be accepting and tolerant of others, to be passionate yet moderate, shrewd yet understanding, receptive and yet adaptive.

As much as we’d like to grumble about it, we have a lot going for us. Our country is small, but it has a lot to offer. My only wish has always been to see Bahrainis, the true born-and-bred Bahrainis, take a stronger initiative and a more positive approach in making it theirs. Our generation may have had its up and downs, but it’s the generation that will pave the way for future ones by setting an example.

I remember when I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get out of this place. I felt that it was too tiny, to enclosed, and I wanted to explore the infinite possibilities the world had to offer. But as I grew up, I’ve become more fond and more protective of it. My father was right, he told me that no matter where I went and how long I went for, that I will always have one home. And that that home will always have a place for me.

*This piece appeared in Time Out Bahrain, December issue 2009.

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