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.