Welcome to My Lebanese Dream
When all is far, and all is empty, I set sail and dock on a familiar shore, somewhere in my imagination
Friday, March 31, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The Harvest of Occasional Insomnia
Monday, March 27, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The Door to my Veranda
It's old and rusty, it creaks, the rod is bent, the handle hides a few sharp edges, the wood licks the floor. But it opens onto my childhood, and my future seems to lie between the long fern branches, the vine, and the geranium. I still open it when I go to visit, I still hurt my fingers sometimes, and it still, somehow, feels great.
Friday, March 24, 2006
On the eve of the sixth day, his work was almost done. He was tired, he had been working nonstop for almost a week, but you could see the overwhelmed sense of satisfaction in his sunset painted eyes.
"Look", he told his little helpers, "this is good". "I had doubts it might not be worth it. But you know how hard it is to imagine something this beautiful until you actually create it and see it with your own eyes".
"But sire" said one of the helpers. "this isn't it, yet. Who is this for? No one?"
"Of course not" he replied, sounding almost disappointed. "I did it for me. Am I not deserving of this sight by myself?"
"you are, sire" the helper retorted. "you are worthy of all the beauty in the world. But why not bring a few creatures, much like yourself, to admire you, and your work?"
"creatures like myself? selfish, weak, and angry to destroy what I built?"
"No sire, creatures like yourself, kind, loving and imaginative, to marvel at what you've done and maybe do some more"
"Creatures like me.. people. Like me. Why not. I'll think about it and start working tmorrow. Thank you my little friend. You are wiser than you look"
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Death to the Infidel
"I know I've read it here somewhere..."
Yeah. Thou shall kill the convert infidel. The harmless, turn-your-left-cheek christian infidel whose God-given right is to pray to whichever God he chooses. And while at it, why not kill his family and friends for safekeeping his secret no less than 16 years and conspiring with him to the desecration and rejection of Islam. If this isn't reason enough for them to die a vile and disgraceful death, then I don't know what is...
Seriously now. It oughta be clear to all that no religion, and I mean none, advocates the killing of innocent people on grounds of their believes, or the lack thereof. Islam does not kill. Muslims who are emprisoned by their fears, their self-perpetuating, self-victimizing ideologies, and a distorted understanding of their religion, do.
But if Islam does not advocate killing, what does it say then?
Well, here's some of it.
"Religion is a blessing not a burden"
"There is no coercion in Religion"
"A muslim is he whose hand and tongue will subject no one to harm"
"If your Lord had wished it, he would have made us all one people with one belief"
Yes, that's what it says. And yes he would have made us all one, but he hasn't, and we're all different for that. Yet many ill-advised souls still refuse to accept and understand.
Until, if someday, they do, more innocent people will persih by the sword for all that which is blatantly, tragically, chokingly human, and is still ironically seen as divine.
Monday, March 20, 2006
To My Mom
This is to you mother, without the parables and the poetry, without the card and the online basket of wilted flowers, without the borrowed words and the false promises. Without anything but me.
This is to you, and all the times I hated you, for being closer to me than my own skin, for protecting me from leaving you no matter for how long, for keeping me from playing with other children in the snow, from searching around the ponds for frogs and listening to their raucous serenades, for protecting me from my jealous friends, from girls and from sin, from everyone who was guilty until proven innocent, from growing up the way I should have, while forcing me to grow up before my time like no child ever should.
This is to you mother and all the times I hated you for nurturing what in me was bigger than the ocean, and suddenly pulling me away and throwing me where I did not, and still do not belong.
This is to you, for all the times I wished I were ten thousand miles away from you, your strength, your intransigence, your being always right and always able to prove you were, from your seeing through my little white lies and not talking to me for weeks, until my white lies gradually turned darker, and I turned smart enough to get away with most of them without remorse.
This also is to you mom, you who almost lost your life to give me mine, and sacrificed everything to make it grow and reach the outskirts of the universe, you who cooked me the best food I ever tasted, made my bed every living morningI saw, told me a thousand amazing stories about places I'd never been and people I would never know, you who taught me about Saint-Exupery, Andre Gide, Vlaminck, Franz Hals, Charlemagne, Henri IV, Franz Liszt, Bach, you who made me watch and listen to operas without the need for a television or a radio, all the operas you grew up with, Aida, La Traviata, Madame Butterfly, Porgy and Bess, Le mariage de Figaro, you who took me by the hand and guided my imagniation through Adana, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Salzburg, Zurich, Aleppo, and back to our drafty living room in Beirut where I sat down exalted, and dreamt.
You who showed me how a book is cherished like a father, you whose worn-out poetry booklets made me fall in love with Al-Mutanabbi and Omro'Al Kaiss, and whose pastel sticks and watercolor tubes found my fingers and magically colored my world.
This is to you, you whose body has not seen a single day without pain, whose prosthesis carried my plea from district to district, and whose rheumatic wrists knocked on a thousand doors to get me the passport I needed to get to France.
You who, only 10 years ago, with your grey hair, your broken hip, your scoliosis and your double chin, were still making heads turn, not even talking, just walking on the street.
This is to you mom, you who are now home-bound, swallowing your pain and loneliness waiting for me, your only child, your life, your hope, your baby, to come back...
This is to the last blessed bone in your body, and the last fleck of dust on your skin..
I can't type anymore...
This is to you mom. Unabridged. Unchecked. From me. The man who owes you everything he is now, and will ever become.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Luckiest Rabbit of All
Have you ever felt that your habitual environment was so familiar, that you'd taken a road so often you would swear that nothing about it, old or new, could ever catch you off guard?
It was three days ago. Eight at night and pitch dark. I was driving away from my condo on the narrow, poorly lit, tortuous and billowy Coley Davis road.
On the second turn, the same one I've taken a thousand times before, it just appeared. It jumped right in front of the car as I was going 55, a small furry creature with floppy ears, and two small black eyes gleaming with the inevitability of my rushing headlights.
I had seen a few roadkills scattered on Coley Davis before, but I always assumed it was an utterly avoidable occurence, that the drivers were reckless, ruthless people and the animals were taken by surprise, stunned by the upcoming blindly charging vehicles.
I was wrong it seems. At least partially wrong. What happened to me screamed everything but avoidable, all of it being wrapped in the minuscule frame of a split second.
I don't know how I managed, but in an instant, while my heart was about to burst out of my chest, I decided not to break or swerve, which, in the rush of the moment seemed almost suicidal. I chose to somehow adjust the car's trajectory as to have the rabbit pass under it, right between its spinning wheels.
The two seconds that followed were a grueling mix of generalized numbness and fear. I knew the numbness came from all the adrenaline rushing through my veins.
But why the fear?
I was speeding away from the scene where the rabbit was supposed to be mangled and smeared on the asphalt. And yet, when I looked back, I saw, to my utter surprise, an unscathed oblivious rabbit calmly hopping away to the other side.
I let out a sigh of relief. Damn lucky bastard. I miraculously managed to avoid it, but for some reason, that dull, ill-defined fear lingered on. Maybe, just maybe, was it from how, in the deep corners of my psyche, I thought I were the rabbit, crossing road after road, incredulously dodging one fateful turn after the other, until the one that marked the end of my journey came and snatched me away.
Counting the miles, I gradually calmed down. What the hell. We should all be like him, cross all roads to the other, more beautiful side. Especially when crossing the road will take us closer to where we think we belong. It would certainy help if we're lucky, like he is, but it won't really matter if we're not.
And nevermind what's waiting. Something most certainly is, or will be. Because, no matter what we choose and where we go, there will always be a last turn looming. Always. Even for the luckiest rabbit of all.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Missed my first March 14 anniversary. It was a year ago yesterday, and I forgot. But I haven't forgotten April 13. Somehow it still lingers on. I guess new memories are just hard to come by when all the faces from all the painful old memories remain.
And God Was Born
Intricate and beautiful like an archipelago, she swayed towards me like I were the Aegean sea, and I was, the languorous wave caressing past the contours of her foot, carelessly into the dark and sweet hollows of her intoxication. She smiled, the island, the tree, the sanctuary, while I shattered my body, one gush at a time, against her endless reef.
Hers was everything I would know. The iconic hair, the brown mystic eyes, the ethereal laugh, the golden shores that were now waltzing with my fingertips, and the thousand worlds I crossed to find her, all of them she had carefully carved in the palm of my hand the day before I was born. And the day I was born, I already belonged.
Beautiful and mysterious like an archipelago, she swayed towards me like I were the Aegean sea. I gave my waves to her. She smiled.
And God was born again, a Woman.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
An Hour and a Half Ago
An hour and a half ago, as I was just stepping onto the front porch to my condo, I glanced up, saw this, and froze. It was an extraordinary scenery, one well beyond description, that caught me off guard. For what seemed like a short eternity, I stood there, agape, while the small shroud of moonlight-frosted clouds raced away, as if late to a celestial rendez-vous. It took me a few seconds to recover and jump inside, grab the camera, and shoot a couple of quick pictures before the indifferent clouds left the moon lonely and naked again, before my uninterested eyes.
Although I wish this photographic rendition were a little closer to reality, I do believe such moments can only be truly appreciated if experienced in real time, instead of through the meager two dimensions of a picture on a screen. But, short of having the ability to get you to where I was an hour and a half ago, I'll still bring you this, hoping that what enthralled me will interest you and allow your imagination to elegantly take care of the rest.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Like a Bird
Whenever I'm feeling lonely
I just think to myself
I shouldn't be feeling lonely
I'll just sing to myself
Whenever I feel unhappy
I just look up on high
Thinking why be unhappy
I have wings, I will fly
Whenever I'm feeling angry
And life rings way too wrong
I try not to be angry
And shout it with a song
Whenever I feel like crying
For many cries unheard
For many children dying
For such a heartless world
Though deep down I'll be dying
I'll vow to not be crying
But be singing and flying
Like a bird... Like a bird... Like a bird
Sometimes, at work, my fingers leave the keyboard and my eyes the screen, and I find myself singing your song, and dancing with the lingering memories of your hair.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Monday, March 06, 2006
Sunday, March 05, 2006
The Anti-Smoking Convention of the Millenium
I don't exactly know how to feel about the momentous deliberations that have been going on for the past few days in down-and-out Downtown Beirut. But for some odd reason, placing our country's fate and our own, in the hands of the very people who tore Lebanon to shreds, is sending chills down my spine.
These are a few pressing questions I have.
How many of these people truly care about Lebanon and its sovereignty? How many of them would be amenable to stepping down and abandoning their leadership privileges for the greater good of a greater Lebanon?
Aren't/Weren't most of these men, at some not so remote point in time, little Syrian sycophants faithfully echoing their master's voice and following its orders?
Aren't they all part of the same governing body that was (and still is) both unwilling and incapable of pulling a single string into the investigation of the hariri/hawi/kassir/tueni chain of assassinations?
What is it that happened that suddenly made them all champions of an independent and powerful nation?
Could it be that they finally agreed on Lahoud as the cause of all ailments? Or is it that they found the perfect scapegoat to detract attention from their past crimes and current shortcomings?
Sure, truth be told, Lahoud needs to step down. But let me share with you my new-found respect for the man who's only being faithful to the hand that fed him, tapped him on the cheeks, and brought him on a glory march to the presidential palace. A man who has a key seat in office, and is hanging on to it with his teeth. Would any of those bigots and hypocrits, debating my future over a round table, have done any less? I doubt it. Lahoud is certainly a joke of a president, and he's indirectly responsible for many of our recent tragedies. But at least he's faithful to his masters, and more of a straight shooter than they are.
So, what's the alternative, you ask. I unfortunately don't see one. My one hope, right now, is that the agreed-upon substitute president would be strong and wise enough, or should I say Lebanese enough, to put the country's interests above all other considerations, and maybe, hopefully, strike a balance and save the day. And if he were able to be and do all that, it would help if he'd have nine lives to safely escort him through his term.
Until then, until my nebulous dreams materialize, I'll try to enjoy the irony of watching a bunch of rusty, smoke-puffing narghiles presiding over the anti-smoking convention of the millenium.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
War is NOT an Option
Since I learned about the "Say NO to war" online petition (the very concept of which drives me up the wall), I have been itching all day to let something out.
I personally find it sad and scandalous that this hateful mono-syllabic word be even uttered under any circumstance, whether it be coupled with a "NO" or not.
This "war" postulate that seems to be going around should be dismissed altogether. Saying "NO" to it on a petition validates its existence and establishes it as a possible alternative. War is NOT an option or an alternative. Instead of saying "NO" to War, what we need is to promote and reinforce the idea that the Lebanese people who twice stood together in hundreds of thousands in and around Freedom square, will remain united above all conflicts, and that War as we've experienced it, is and shall remain part of a regrettable past.