April 13, 1975
And the civil war goes on and on and on…
Remembering does not alleviate the pain. But maybe it prevents repeating the mistakes.
Forgiving is difficult. And it is more difficult when those who need to be forgiven are ruling us and stealing our daily bread.
If they can forget because they were enjoying what they were doing, we the children of the war will say it out loud:
WE MAY FORGIVE BUT WE WILL NEVER FORGET
Yesterday, I drove down from the Bekaa Valley to Beirut. This is the default international road between Beirut and Damascus. As usual every Sunday, there was traffic on the road and most of the time when the cars stop, I steal glances into people in nearby cars. Sometimes we smile to each other, sometimes we exchange helpless gestures about the traffic and sometimes we don’t exchange eye contact.
In one of the brief stops on the roads of Arayya, I noticed a Syrian cab with lots of people in it. This has become a regular scene on the international road. And so I announced the regular, “More refugees.”
While my fellow passengers were saying that we were like these refugees not so long ago, and that it was THEM “the sooriyyeen” who caused a lot of our troubles, I noticed a woman sitting on the back seat behind the passenger seat of that car (the passenger seat had TWO passengers not one). The woman’s eyes were fixed on the front right side of the road, on nothing, I was certain. Her eyes were green. But they looked like glass eyes. They didn’t move right or left. “This woman is very sad,” I murmured as if to myself. I had tears in my heart for the sight of her and couldn’t help wondering how we looked when we used to run away from Beirut in the middle of the night to seek refuge somewhere else.
When did we start accusing the woman with the glass eyes of our Lebanese problems? Is it because she carries a Syrian ID? Why can’t people get over these limitations they created and view each other for what they are: human beings with hearts and past lives and future dreams and basic needs?
The woman with the glass eyes haunted me all day yesterday, and then all night, and then all day while I was working today I had her profile face in front of me. Looking at the nothing in front of the white car driving towards Beirut.
Where was she going? Did she know somebody in Beirut? Were the two men in the front seat her sons? Was she alone? Is she blind or did she just see too much?