“I will tell your story if you die. I will tell your story, and keep you alive… I’ve always had the feeling we would die young” sings a soulful thin woman before me. At the first lyrics many people in the crowd, including myself, can feel tears in their eyes, remembering that on 22nd of July 2011, too many people died young.
This song is the first of many at the mini-concert given on the 22nd of July 2012 for the first anniversary of what some call the Utøya massacre, coupled with the bomb set in Oslo city-centre. Ironically enough, the singer opening the concert is Laleh Pourkarim, an Iranian-born Swedish woman who fled Iran with her family and became a Swedish pop singer. Just like many immigrants continue to flee to seek shelter from the bombs, the intolerance, the wars or the poverty they face in their home country. Some land in Norway, a land of peace and tolerance where they will no longer fear for their lives or their childrens’.
This must be unbearable to him, and I am secretly wishing that he is forced to watch this concert from his cell, forced to see the thousands of people who came here today, despite the rain and the wind.
Because let’s face it, this day is the worst Scandinavian summer day ever. On no wait, it could be worst, there could be snow! But still, the wind is blowing, the rain is pouring down, the sky is getting darker and we are all standing like sardines in a can. For security reasons we were not allowed to bring umbrellas inside the concert area, so most of us are really wet and feeling cold. And count all the girls who dreamt it was summer and who came along with mini-shorts and trendy shredded t-shirts. They had to buy Burger King ponchos on their way here. Most people came long in advance, one or sometimes two hours, to watch Mari Boine live, or Marit Larsen, or simply to remember and to be together and not feel alone on this very sad day.
But close to 8pm, the time the concert starts, I am wondering what I am doing here. I’ve been waiting here for more than an hour, and it is too cold. I should be on my sofa with a cup of hot chocolate watching this on television. Why did I need to come out here in the cold and the rain? Well the answer was given to me several minutes later when a trumpetist plays “Mitt lille land” from the top of Rådhusplassen and Laleh sings the first verses of “some die young”.
Suddenly I remember the broken glass in Akersgata, the teenagers telling on television how they ran away from the killer, and how he hunt them down to their tents, shooting in the water while some of them were swimming away from the Utøya island. The obvious wounds, the blood and amputations of the victims; but also the psychological wounds which, we could guess, would take much longer to heal. But I also recall in my head pictures of the city covered in roses, the flowers stuck everywhere, in the smallest cracks of the road, on the fences. The spontaneous march where all came with their friends, their kids and their grand parents to show that Norway is still a nation of peace and freedom, not of fear and anger.
I am not Norwegian but I was marching with them and feeling part of this country, because I too live in Oslo, and I too feel the unbearable pain of seeing the trust and solidarity Norwegian people based their nation on be suddenly stripped down and raped. As a French living here I am part of this multicultural society that he hates and I feel so proud that Norway did not respond with violence and American-like security measures, but with love and tolerance.
I watch Bruce Springsteen telling his love of Norway and finally a little man with a hat sings a song I have heard many times on the radio: “God natt Oslo”. Yes, god natt, I am tired and will go home now, feeling sad and happy at the same time. I know that Norwegians don’t usually express their feelings and emotions too much, but tonight we were all crying together, for those who died too young.