After spending days in the strife-torn Libya, Geetha Sachidanandham feels relieved to be back at her home town.
The 48-year-old English teacher came back from the rebellion-torn Libya a few days ago. The oil-rich country was witnessing violence between the soldiers loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi and rebels determined to overthrow his regime. The battle had already left a large number of people dead and forced thousands of people to flee the country.
Ms. Sachidanandham was working as an English teacher in a college in the North-African country.
“We have first heard reports about the rebel movement on February 17 in Benghazi in the east of Libya. I lived in Az-Zawia, located about 40 km from the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Our area was calm and we did not see any trouble. A few days later, supporters of Moammar Qadhafi took out rallies supporting his rule. We faced tense moments when rebels took over our area on February 21, a day before my birthday,” Ms. Sachidanandham recounted.
“The actual trouble started on March 4. We heard sound of gunshots and constant roar of fighter jets. The communication network stopped working. There was no electricity. In the early morning of March 5, we woke up to heavy shelling in our area. Shots had been fired everywhere. That was when five of the Indian teachers in our area decided to leave for home.”
Ms. Sachidanandham remembers her horrific journey to the airport amidst heavy fighting in the streets.
“We managed to get a taxi to Tripoli. We were stopped at a number of places by army personnel. The trip, which would have cost us just 70 Libyan dinars in normal circumstances, cost us 700 Libyan dinars. Finally, we boarded the flight at Tripoli after a brief stop at the Indian Embassy,” she said.
“Everyone in my family is now relieved to see me back home safe, Ms. Sachidanandham said.
She said she wished to return to Libya once the trouble was over. “People in the oil-rich country give a lot of respect to the professionals from India,” she added.