The Malta Independent 13 December 2019, Friday

Even the blackest day can be sunny

Victor Calleja Sunday, 1 December 2019, 08:59 Last update: about 11 days ago

When Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally murdered, I died inside and lost my will. My soul felt brutalised.

I felt I had lost everything and wanted to give up on everything. I was 61 at the time. Even if the situation in Malta was desperate, I had never felt deprived of all hope. My optimism had always got me through the worst times but Daphne’s assassination was the blackest day of my life, way worse than anything I had ever experienced. Worse than the day my father died when I was just out of my teens. Worse than my mother’s demise and even worse than when my sister was killed in a horrific car accident.

With these close ones there was mourning. I grieved, I cried but there was closure.

When Daphne was executed by an orchestrated killing squad I cried not just for the loss of a human, a friend. I cried for her family, friends and most of all for the indomitable woman who alone shook our world, our world of terrible omertà.

Because she had been taken away so brutally, I felt that the forces of blackness had triumphed forever.

If Daphne was gone, if the woman who had the strength and spirit of hundreds of us, and the courage few men ever even dream about, what was there in the world that meant anything?

I mourned. I shook with rage. I attended all the protests, the vigils, and added my pieces to the outpouring of our anger. But deep down I felt defeated, purposeless. I was becoming voiceless.

When the initial surge of public anger passed, the people who were protesting retreated. Back to their cosy shell. Back to where we always feel most comfortable – away from public view, away from the few that continued the fight for justice. I attended and continued writing but I did not have any urge. My spirit for once in my life was totally overcome by the blackness that took over our land.

Deep down I was devastated and lost. I had hoped the whole country would be out protesting, pitchfork in hand, shouting at Castille and the band associated with that cesspit.

The numbers dwindled.

Two incidents, two people, made me realise that whatever the situation, however black and bleak, and however small the number of protesters, we had to fight on. And that every little bit of pressure and every word uttered out loudly in public or to people to sway their thoughts and ideas was useful.

There have been many heroes in this horror story of blackness unbound. But the two who most kept me going were Simon Busuttil and Manuel Delia.

Both – like all of us – have their defects. Both are humanly normal. Both were flung into the battle through circumstance and because they wanted the truth to prevail and justice for Daphne to come about. And for a better future for this country.

During one of the very first vigils, I remember telling Simon Busuttil that I was giving up, that the situation was not just desperate but with no hope of change. With a very strained smile – we had even lost the capacity to do that – he urged me on: “Don’t give up. Not now. Now is the time to fight harder. Now is the time to light the blackness.

You have to carry on. Daphne must live on.”

And I did. And I thank him for it. Because if my words meant nothing to the many, there were a few who, it seems, agreed with the sentiments I expressed. Who felt a little bit more encouraged; who felt like I did when I was told by Simon Busuttil to fight on.

Another day that now reverberates in my memory was when a handful of us – a few dozen if at all – gathered outside Parliament to protest a couple of months after Daphne’s heinous end. I arrived and saw the “crowd” and dried up inside. Cursed the fact that we in general never make ourselves heard, never bother, never engage.

After the sparse crowd went back home I approached and thanked Manuel Delia for all his efforts. I expressed my horror at the lack of numbers.

His answer was far from what I expected. I thought he’d nod and agree that it was all discouraging. Instead he said: “Don’t let the numbers worry you. The important thing is that we go on. That we do not stop. That we do not lose hope. The numbers will come.”

These two incidents are etched in my memory bank. They were the beacons in the darkness. Instead of retreating into silence these two – and a few other good men and women – rallied us to fight on, to beat the blackness, to believe that beyond the utter despair there was a justice that could ultimately prevail.

During the worst of times the spirit of Simon Busuttil and Manuel Delia together with the strength shown by the Caruana Galizia family kept me going and kept me sane.

The numbers swelled, the voice out there grew stronger. Many today have seen the light and realised the truth was totally different from the golden one Joseph Muscat and his gang were painting for us all.

The world – even more than our own country – listened. Pressure, even the smallest and with a miniscule crowd, can ultimately topple tyrants and change the course of history.

After the long battle, the blackest, worst time of our life, a ray of sunshine is now shining through and yes, we can now hope and trust in a better future.

 

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