It was supposed to be a quiet birthday celebration together, just the two of us. A whole day enjoying the spring Monday Bank Holiday of 1980; the first time I celebrated the birthday of my husband of a few months. It was a beautiful day but we chose to remain indoors, perhaps a quiet dinner later at Khans of Bayswater or El Efez, our two favourite haunts.
In spite of the hustle bustle outside the window; the whole world walking in droves towards the park, we refused to budge and sat lazily on the sofa watching what must have been a John Wayne movie. And then, it happened. First the programme was interrupted to show developments on the events that had the world glued to the TV for the past few days. It was to be the latest on the siege of the Iranian embassy in Princes Gate, across the park from where we were.
On 30th April 1980, a six-man team of the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRMLA), took over the embassy, taking 26 hostages; staff and people who had gone there to get visas to travel. They killed a hostage and threw the body outside the building,
This was my first taste of terrorism, bomb blasts and security alerts; with more to come.
On the screen, several men (SAS) were seen on the balcony of the building and before too long, we heard what seemed like a distant thunder; both on screen and from outside the window. It was real drama unfolding almost at our doorsteps. It was scary. We looked outside the window and people stopped in their tracks and were looking at the black smoke billowing from across the park. Within a few minutes, five gunmen were killed and 19 hostages were saved.
Yes, I still remember the evening of 5th May 1980. London, or rather the UK has always been a playing field, fertile grounds for foreign terrorist groups or freedom fighters, depending on how you see it.
Tomorrow, 29 years on, we are hoping for a quiet celebration, with four children and five cats.
Happy Birthday AG and thank you.
I feel a syaer coming but that will have to wait.
The one I prepared earlier:
Syaer untuk Sang Suami