Yesterday I woke up to a notification that read, “Isabel Vötter marked herself as safe during The Shooting in Munich, Germany”. Then I saw that the rest of my friends in Munich were safe, too. I was so glad that they were, but I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand.
I googled “Shooting in Munich” as I hoped and hoped and hoped that no results would come out. I pinched myself, and it hurt — this wasn’t a nightmare. The first result was an article published by theguardian, “Munich attack: teenage gunman kills nine people at shopping centre”. A city of 1.4 million, terrorised and shaken.
It hit so close to home.
That was OEZ (Olympia Einkaufszentrum) that they were talking about. That was the very shopping centre I frequented all the time when I used to live in Olympia Village before moving to the Hirschgarten area in April this year. It used to be no more than a 10-minute walk away. That was where Dad had his first Kwetsche Kuche in Munich, that was where I bought my first academic books in Munich, that was where I bought my rice cooker so I wouldn’t be so rice-deprived. That was where I got my first introduction to life in Munich.
I know where the shooting happened. I know that place like the back of my hand.
Oh gosh. I was shaking, in shock, and lying bed, crying, as my brain struggled to make sense of everything. I dashed into my parents’ room, where they were just waking up. “There was a shooting in Munich,” I told them in an almost-whisper. They sat back down on the bed and read the article I had bookmarked on my phone. We sat in silence — Mum could do no more than shake her head.
We spent the rest of yesterday in disbelief. Isabel told me that the city was on lockdown, that when she opened her windows, she could hear the sound of the choppers making their rounds around the city to make sure nothing else was out of place.
Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Paris, India, Libya, the US, Istanbul, Cairo, Thailand, Belgium, Nice, Würzburg and Munich among so many others. Munich seemed so… safe.
Is anywhere really safe?
My heart goes out to anyone suffering out there.
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilised by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” — Walter Anderson