Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ten years on...

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Gothenburg for a week, half-term, the first time back since making the big, adult move to London. I remember the arguments, my little brother wanting to stay out till the party ended at 6 a.m., my mother standing her ground. All factors working against Mr. T. Mr. T and I asking my mum why she was being so strict this time, come on, it's not every day there's an all night Halloween party for under 18s. My mum firm in cutting Mr. T's curfew by an hour or two. Something deep down inside her must have told her to do that.

I had my friends over for 'tjejmiddag' (dinner with the girls), we enjoyed, chatted and laughed. Just after they left, Mr. T came home with his best friend. By the time he had made it to the venue, he only had twenty minutes to spend inside before he'd have to head home to make the curfew. Instead, he saved his entrance fee and rather hung out with his friends just outside the entrance to the make-shift club. He left at 23.40. At 23.45 it all broke loose, hell.

Picture from Aftonbladet

I had promised to wait for him and met him at home around midnight. We talked for a bit then headed to bed. Before I woke, there had already been action in the house. Best friend's worried mother calling, demanding to speak to her son before she'd believe he was alive. Panicked older brother calling to check that Mr. T was really alive and safe. My parents not sure what was happening until they turned on the news.

The next days were filled of numbers, 48 dead, 53 dead, 72 dead, 61 dead. It settled on 63 in the end. Mr. T at the ripe old age of 15 was in and out of hospital, checking on his friends in the ICU, or worse, waiting to hear who had passed away.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. Lauryn Hill's album which I bought on the 29th of October still reminds me of that week, those days. Track 3 (I think?), Ex-factor, still brings me to tears when it's played. That was my song of grief. And yet, I was not close to anyone who passed away.

Ten years on, I can only wonder how the families of those young children, teenagers, are coping. Probably wondering where their sons and daughters would have been today. Ten years on, how are those, that made it but suffered from nightmares for years, surviving, those that had bite-marks indented in their thighs, from weaker people trying to hang on and get out with their everything, living? We can only wonder and hope that something like this never happens again.

Text reads:
The night of 30th October 1998 a massive fire broke out in this building.
Sixty three teenagers lost their lives and several more were injured.
Gothenburg became a city in mourning


I know the number is small, I know worse things happen everyday in the world. But in Gothenburg, this was, is, our tragedy. When 12-23 year-olds leave their houses to go to a Halloween party and end the night in bodybags.

4 comments:

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Yes, awfully sad. You told me about it once, but now I guess I believe it more (no, totally). See what they say about a woman's instinct? Well, I'm told it's 7 times stronger when that woman is a mother. Glad about Mr. T who has live (to be a father, no?)

Anonymous said...

Every time I go back home and pass the location where the fire broke out I look and think about all those young people who lost their lives that night. I think about the brother of my sister’s friend who died and I think about the fact that if I was still living in Gothenburg at that time, I might have been there at that fatal night as well.
May they all rest in peace!

N

Maya said...

Exactly Nana Yaw, a father to such a lurvely boy! Interesting about a woman's instinct, think it must be true, mother's know best, the rest of us just wander along.

Maya said...

I know N, I think we are really lucky to not even have close ties to anyone there, especially considering the age we were and our siblings.

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