I was born in a country said to exist only because of some strange coincidences.
Where surrealism became hilarious in the South and expressionism became cynical in the North.
The land of poets and artists, the land of René Magritte and Jacques Brel.
The country of all and ultimate relativity.
The nation where its people have no national feeling which they tend to replace with acerbic wit, especially against oneself. Where people feel slightly ashamed when abroad to admit where they're from, because, well for no particular reason really, but it feels a bit uneasy.
My dad saw horrors in the war. It was too terrible to talk about what he saw when his batallion free'd Büchenwald. So we didn't talk about it. But we knew dad, we knew.
Little country, little people, little mind - used to say one of our kings, born to big a king in too small a puddle.
And we made fun of ourselves, about our one little minesweeper in the Gulf war, about our wacky Frimout, l'astronout flamout, about our ridiculous llittle language problems (and shivered when seeing what happened in Croatia, that would never happen here no sirree), about our politicians making themselves immortally ridiculous abroad, about our demented king and his retarded offspring, about the stupidity you can watch on our telly nowadays.
We used to have one moment in the fashionspots in 1958. We used to be big in comic strips, we used to be famous worldwide for our chocolate and our beer. We used to feel one only at big football (soccer) games.
A few years ago my land became famous for its pedophiles. And when Marc Dutroux was finally caught, the whole nation felt as one and for the first time, no football game was involved. We thought - decided - this was the one exception to our cozy little life. Like one rotten tomato when thrown out of the basket. So we threw it out. And we learned to laugh again.
A few weeks ago a couple was arrested for torturing to death a retarded boy. The mother of the boy and his stepfather were convicted. They had done things on him for years until finally he died of his wounds.
Four days ago a 20 year old kid walked into a baby daycare center. He had a knife. He first killed the female attendant. Then one by one he started to slice the babies with his knife. Two died, several were in critical condition, most were butchered. The babies were aged from 2 two 9 months. The kid left the premises and simple drove away on his bicycle, to be arrested a few hours later. He wore make-up like Heath Ledger as the joker.
Today Belgium suddenly fails to see the joke.
And now I know why I am ashamed to be born here.
Lama, lama, lama sabachthani.