My lost paradise

Nostalgia tastes good, the future even better

Living away from my home country, from my family and friends, especially during the Christmas season, brings back a lot of nostalgia. It often happens that during these days I find myself thinking about traditional Christmas activities, family lunches on Christmas day and wonderful memories of time spent with my friends. As I take the trip down memory lane I realise how much they are connected to my home country.

I grew up in a very small island called Malta, which lies at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. As a kid it was literally like a heaven on Earth for me. I still remember being able to make frequent visits to my grandparents due to the short distance from my house. Going around the island was quite easy and I still have vivid memories of wonderful walks in springtime along the coastline or of seeing the magnificent sea during the summer times. As I grew up, I started travelling to various countries in Europe, first with my parents and then on my own. However, I was still proud to call Malta my home.

Three years ago, I moved to Italy to join the Society of Jesus. I have to admit with you, that during these couple of years, I’ve always kept a picture of Malta as a desktop background of the computer I use. One of my favourite pictures is that of the Azure window that used to be in Gozo, which collapsed on the 8th of March of this year.

Luckily every once in a while I still get the chance to visit my home country. However, there is just one problem: I now find it difficult to recognise the country that I grew up in, the country I used to call a heaven on earth. The last time I returned there was during summer and the famous Azure window was nowhere to be seen. I would like to take this as a metaphor as I write on my personal experience of my home country in the past years.

Everywhere I look now, there are tower cranes constructing the latest buildings. Sometimes it happens that I pass by a place I used to remember from my childhood days and now find a new construction rather than the green countryside.

More worryingly, however, is the fact that since 2010 there have been nineteen bomb attacks in Malta alone, with the latest victim being Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist whose writings were always seen as a nuisance and inconvenience by influential people in the island. When I would see on the news things like these happening abroad as a kid, they almost seemed like a fiction movie to me and now they have become a reality in my home.

The Maltese economy is doing very well and boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. I wouldn’t be surprised if many Maltese people still considered Malta to be a heaven on earth and reassured themselves that there is no such thing as poverty in our country. In reality, thousands are struggling on a daily basis to try and make ends meet.

I would love to say that my paradise still exists but unfortunately, that would be a negation of reality. The Azure window is no more and surely Malta isn’t the same as I remember it. A choice is placed in front of us. We can either dwell on what has been or attempt to live each day presented to us. Surely, I will always remember the marvellous scenarios the Azure window once offered and all the beautiful memories I have of that wonderful place. But now, I choose to look at a different beauty at Dwejra, being offered at the same place where the Azure window used to be. Surely there are difficulties in Malta and things to improve such as the fight against corruption, poverty and an increased awareness about the environment. Let us start 2018 with hope. Let us hope that the next 365 days being presented to us will be used for the good of each and every Maltese citizen. Let us not look back at the past but walk into a better future.

The Author

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