A Morning Page in the Evening

Tonight is nothing special. I just happen to be in bed at a very early time “in artsy standards”. My sister Malak, who is a medical doctor, and I, once agreed that artists times and doctors times are completely different. Where a doctor’s morning might start at 6 a.m., an artist’s morning might start at noon or at 2 p.m. at the very best. Rambling like this is not a good sign for a writer, mind you. It is an indicator of a clouded mind. And I know there has been lots of unwritten things happening inside my head. I think of the material, I jot it down mentally, done. And I never get it out on paper or even here. No good.

The music in my ears enforces my heart’s feeling that everything is okay, life is beautiful, and tomorrow is another day. But my mind, my sick mind, wants to stay awake waiting for a phone call or an email that might not come before morning anyway. My beloved Teta, bless her soul, once wrote an article about life saying that Life is Waiting. Now whenever I wait for something I directly remember sitto. Although she and I disagreed about lots of things, sometimes had arguments, but we were really close. She and I are the ones who love Ghazzeh most. In 2006, I went up with teta & jiddo and was their spoiled guest when the war started. Last summer in 2011 when many of my friends visited from abroad, teta made lunch or dinner for them and welcomed them like she welcomes us or even better. Even though she doesn’t speak more than basic English, she made sure that everything was “gooood.” And she later told me she is welcoming all these people because they are MY friends. She said, this is all for you.

When we were young and, now I realize, possibly silly kids, teta would always sit us down and tell us stories. I was fascinated with her Tarzan stories. Sometimes when she forgot she’d just improvise and keep narrating. And then next time when she repeats things we’d recognize them and say, “No! That happened yesterday!” And whenever we memorized new songs or poems at school, she’d be the FIRST one we rush to recite the songs to. I would stand in front of her, hands behind my back like in front of a teacher, and recite in the best fashion possible. And she would give me a 250L.L. or whatever was enough for me to buy candy from the store downstairs.

And teta and I always discussed books. We both loved reading very much. We often played Arabic Scrabble in the afternoons and evenings. Teta played basketball with the little ones when we refused to let them play with us or when they had nobody to play with. She sewed the five wedding dresses for my sisters and checked every minute detail in them. Sometime soon, it will be one year since she went away and left us to the unknown where we’re all going. Hearts are a curse sometimes. What do you do when you miss someone so much and you know you’re never going to see them ever again?

..he pulled out a weapon and fired..

Just like that. On the main road. In Quraytem. In the afternoon. From the window of his car. I saw a gun slowly get out of the window. I knew it was going to shoot. I prayed for Allah not to make me see someone fall to the ground with a gunshot. And I hoped we won’t get killed with a stray bullet. I probably wished he didn’t fire. But he did.

I have to start this story from the beginning. Fact is, I was expressing my happiness out loud yesterday about me being outside the country on April 13th, the anniversary of the Civil War. I simply would rather not be around to witness people celebrate the end of a war that pretty much still lives inside many hearts and bodies. But things didn’t go as simply as I wanted them to.

Today, I left LAU at 3 o’clock and headed to Jiddo’s house for a family lunch. Since Teta passed away in November, these gatherings at her house became less frequent and often planned, rather than spontaneous. And they terribly lack her presence, which I know Jiddo feels. I stole a look at his face today and saw tears in his eyes. So I took a chance and asked how is he doing. He smiled. Our gathering at his/her house makes him happy. But it also makes him miss her badly. Just like we miss our lovers when we are happy and want them to be there to share it, and to enjoy it to the maximum. He misses her.

We had a good meal and then I was offered a ride by my aunt. So I gratefully took it. The ride from Raouche to Labban is no more than 5 minutes by car. You go up towards the Saudi Embassy then to Quraytem, near the Hariri Palace, and then take a left down to Labban. That’s it. But today’s ride suddenly became very long because of this guy who fired a gun from the car in front of us.

There was this Porsche Cayanne driving really slowly ahead. We were all starting to beg the driver to move it. My aunt was almost pushing his car with the front bumper of the GMC she drives. I noticed the Porsche had license plates with four numbers only. Someone with lots of money. Someone who likes to show off and let people know they have lots of money. We almost gave up. I told my aunt this man has the right to drive however he want. “He’s driving a Cayanne!” But I didn’t know he also had the right to do other things.

The Porsche drove past the Hariri Palace. It slowed down even more. And suddenly from the driver’s window, a pistol came out. It wasn’t steady first, it was shaky, as if searching for a prey. Then it steadied and BANG. What spans a couple of lines here almost ended my life in that car. I have never seen anybody shooting a pistol in real life. Not as far as I remember. I’ve seen men in our family shoot hunting guns. But those are for hunting animals, not killing people. The sight of a real pistol sticking out the window of a car in the middle of Beirut, in Qoraytem particularly (supposedly a heavily protected area), was shattering. I don’t want to see people killing each other. I hate whatever motive that makes any human being pull out a gun at any creature. I simply can’t live with it. Yet, here is a guy pulling out a weapon and firing it right in front of everybody on the street.

The gunshot was almost unheard. The target was a pigeon, that escaped. The driver is insane. I am still alive at the time of typing this. But that was really scary. And the worse part? No one did anything when that gun was out searching for a prey. Life froze.

No more Teta Grandma And for my mom…

No more Teta (Grandma). And for my mom, no more Mother.

We made lots of coffee today at Teta’s house. And we also ate lots of food.
None of which she cooked. None of which she tasted.

And there were many people who cared about her. She gathered them all but she wasn’t there to greet them. Like this my Grandma. She prefers to play it cool, all the time. All the time.

Jeddo is heartbroken. Khalto, my auntie, is like an innocent child whose mother’s hand was snatched away. I feel blessed to be near Mommy. And I secretly and selfishly hope that she is feeling our presence with her, by her side, because she is so precious.

I look back at the memories that Teta left with us and I smile. They are all good memories. Very romantic, when you actually come to think of them. She was always smiling. And I can’t but believe that she is still smiling 🙂

So last week was the first time that…

So, last week was the first time that I register, since a very long time ago, that I missed Beirut.
Of course there are reasons why I missed the city. Reasons that have nothing to do with the place or the time. Mostly logistic reasons which could be anywhere, but they happened to be in Beirut.
And it felt good to miss Beirut for a short while. Detach it from its historical and social and personal implications for me and miss it as the place where I can write and see the people I love and communicate with them. It did feel good.

Today, Teta lies unconscious on a bed at AUH. My blood pressure rockets every time I set foot in that place or even think of it (yes, like, now). I don’t like it. It brings bad memories and often accumulates newer bad memories. And today is not going to be an exception, I thinks. I hope I am mistaken. One way or another I feel ok though. This is life. We know this will happen one day or another to each and every one.