Updated: Jul 27
My mum called me yesterday. Worried. After watching the news on Slovenian TV she got the worst picture of how awful and dangerous life must be right now in Brussels. "It seems like you are in a war over there", she said.
I tried to comfort her that there was no reason to be worried. But same as her, I also had a bad sleep.
After four days of city's almost total lockdown, life is slowly turning again to normal.
Schools are open and most of the public transport is operating.
But it is different.
Armed soldiers or additional security personnel in front of the schools, new security checks, new rules for parents to pick up the children and no outside activities for the kids. The Minister responsible for education in the Brussels area told in a TV interview they have decided to open the schools Wednesday, despite the ongoing imminent terrorist threat, as children are supposed to be safer in schools than outside.
We, parents, got letters from schools, from the headmasters and even from a psychologist with some advice on how to deal with fear and children's anxiety. They reminded us on our own responsibility for making children's life again normal and safe. We were told to keep them away from the media and to talk to them about their fears, unsolved questions and strange ideas to help them understand the situation better.
Quite a task.
All parents know, that you can not trick your children. They feel you, your insecurity and anger and in the worst case, they translate these emotions as it was their own fault.
So it is essential to talk to them. To calm them down and explain it is dangerous, but the probability something would happen to us is relatively small. However, unfortunately, we also had to tell them there would be no Saint Nicholas in the school and that even their Christmas market had been cancelled for their own safety.
In the children's world, this is serious.
How long are we going to tolerate this way of life? How on earth I am supposed to tell my daughters, who are having nightmares lately, that the bad guy still hasn't been caught, but they shouldn't worry because now they have an armed man in front of their school that will protect them.
I think the worst conflict we are having right now here is the one with ourselves.
Well, no matter what the Belgian Government is trying to signalise, I don't feel any safer now. And talking to friends and neighbours doesn't help. Some expats went home for a week, and some took their children to their grandparents or went on a holiday.
But most of us are trying to believe that the worst is already behind us.
In fact, last week, the most fragile time after Paris attacks, was like the security and police took some time off. Sure, they need at least 3 days to coordinate three parliaments and six different police units and headquarters of two intelligence services here in Brussels!
I rather don't even think of what could happen in those days.
The information leaked that authorities knew that more than 80 people, suspected of Islamic militants, came back from Syria lately and lived in the area of Molenbeek in Brussels. According to the New York Times also, the two brothers, who allegedly took part in the Paris attacks, were on this list. Not to mention the leading terrorist of this attack.
For this reason, the name of the EU capital has turned to "Belgistan", as Italian newspaper named Brussels. And a French writer Zemmour suggested in a recent interview that instead of bombing Raqqa in Syria, France should bomb Molenbeek.
Everybody is blaming Molenbeek, some are trying to figure out what went wrong there (an isolated colourful part of Brussels where ex-pats never go) that it became in the last decades the European centre of the Islamic radicals?
Dear masterminds of the European intelligence, ask rather what went wrong with this society that people can radicalise themselves without anybody would notice, in the capital of the European Union!
And regarding the BrusselsLockdown.
After the police asked people(journalists) to play along and not to post pictures of police actions on social networks, cats took over the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown. Means, people were posting different kinds of, in most cases, funny photos of cats.
In the same spirit, the Belgian police afterwards thanked all that have been helping this way.
So it is clear. If anybody wins this game, it will be the cat!
Belgian surrealism, indeed.