Kuwaitis have always ‘dated’ years, giving them certain names according to major incidents. Thus, they have historically known the year 1918 as the year of ‘mercy’ due to the great number of people who died in that year, namely children who were killed when a flu epidemic spread in Kuwait. The term ‘mercy’ (Rahma in Arabic) comes from Islamic traditions of praying to Almighty Allah to bestow his mercy on the souls of dead people, that was done often that year.
Years after that, another major incident shifted dating to the year 1931, that is historically known as the ‘chickenpox’ year, when the disease dangerously spread, claiming many lives including those of children. Children who survived chickenpox suffered from chickenpox ‘scars’ that were locally known as ‘kharsh’, which are the marks left on the face of a person who survives chickenpox. Therefore, most people were hit by this ‘kharsh’ in the 1930s, 1940s and probably the 1950s. Young people do not know this term nowadays because they have never experienced or witnessed chickenpox.
Many people died in that year, but thanks be to Almighty Allah, because people are very healthy nowadays with clear faces and complexions, and may Almighty Allah have mercy on those who lived through that ancient beautiful past! – Al-Anbaa
By Dr Saleh Al-Ojairi