I’m writing you an e-mail , which I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to send to you (since we don’t have a regular phone line here), but I have an urge to write to you, I have an urge to write. It’s the 19th day of war, and el-7amdillah
we’re still doing well, all of us, something we used to take for granted. I’m not going to discuss any political opinion (cause we’re fed up of political discussions, in all their forms and aspects), and I’m not going to discuss war facts and numbers cause this is what the news is made for, I’m just going to tell you about me, about us, about people.
We’re staying here, where the war hasn’t reached yet, for how long, I don’t know. There’s no bombing here, no shooting, the children play football all day, and people are gathered on the balconies having coffee and argheeleh
, and yet we don’t feel safe. Every night when we go to bed, we fall sleep on the sound of “ta2irat el-2istitla3
” [reconnaissance planes], and on bad nights, the low flying of military planes. The sound makes you wonder whether you’ll be tomorrow’s headlines or whether it’s someone else’s turn. Most nights I wonder if I’m going to wake up the next morning, and if we’re all going to be OK. I got used to sleeping on the ground after we decided that the living room is safer than our bedrooms (since the bedrooms have a panoramic view whereas the living room faces another building). For 19 days now, every night, I pull down the living room “tara7at
” [cushions], spread my sheets and my pillow, and gather the things that are dearest to my heart in a small bag that I keep right next to me on the floor. Every morning I wake up, take my sheets and pillow to the bedroom, make my bed, put “el tara7at
” back into place, and hide the small bag in my closet. The lies we like to believe…I’ve watched hundreds of buildings fall since the war started, and not one, not one, had a preserved room. They crumble like sandcastles, and the waves make no difference between a living room and a bedroom, or between a mattress and a bed.
I’m not complaining. In fact, I thank God a million times for being so lucky. I’ve seen families standing on the pavement waiting for a ride to safety when the Israelis threw “manshourat
” [flyers] on El-Da7yeh
, but all buses were full, and everyone was escaping with no regard to whom is left behind. I’ve seen men leave their houses and their stores with nothing in hand except pocket money and ID (el-hawiye
), and then sit in a stranger’s house watching on TV their lives’ work and savings getting burnt into pieces. I’ve seen children, women, and elderly stacked in school corridors, waiting for someone to pass food and water for them and their babies. I’ve seen youngsters in the prime of their lives, sleeping in gardens (jnaynit el-sanayi3
), being photographed and videotaped like zoo animals, deprived of any form of shelter and privacy. I’ve seen doctors in the South screaming on TV that the hospital in their surrounded (mo7asar
) village needs anesthetics because they ran out of drugs and they’re operating on lucid and conscious patients. I’m talking about living people since I started out by saying that this e-mail is not going to be about the massacres, it’s not about the dead.
For those, whatever I say is in vain. No one can do anything for those who were brutally murdered, or for those whose loved ones have been mercilessly killed. For those, even condolences are pointless for nothing, nothing in the world, can ease their engrossed pain.
I’ve seen on TV, and heard from the balcony of our house here, el-da7yeh
getting bombed for over 10 days. Nothing is left of my childhood town. The ruins of the buildings, stores, gas stations and streets crumble on top of each other like dirt on a decayed corpse. It took me 23 years to memorize the streets and alleys of da7yeh
, and it took them less than a week to cease its existence. There’s nothing left of it. I saw a man on TV standing in the middle of the ruins in Haret Hreik looking around in astonishment. A reporter came to ask him what’s wrong with him. He replied that he can’t seem to find his house. He didn’t even know if he’s in the right street, or the right neighborhood. They all look the same now. Sfeir’s bridge was also totally destroyed. It is the bridge that links Taree2 El-Matar to Hazmieh, and it was almost completed by the time we had to leave Borj. We were anxiously waiting for it to finish, especially that we’ve been using the accomplished part of it (the one that links Borj to Galerie Sim3an) for over 4 years now. I’ve crossed it and drove underneath it more than 5 times a day. It was my welcome home sign after spending the day outside el-da7yeh, studying, working or simply cruising. It’s bewildering how much we relate to our place of birth, and our place of growing up, and our place of work, so what if all three of them are situated in the same street? That street is home. I wonder where did the old man that pushes a grocery cart, and sells the best fruit in the neighborhood go. Did he take 3arabeyto
[his cart] with him? I was driving 3 days ago in Borj and da7yeh
, and on every corner my mind drew for me what my eyes were used to seeing. The small van selling coffee and Nescafe near the beginning of Sfeir’s bridge. The old men having argheeleh
in an old coffeeshop right next to Farouj Al-Khalil.
The boys changing someone’s car’s tires in the tires shop facing Medco gas station at the entrance of Borj. But this time my mind fooled me. They were all gone, scattered around Lebanon, like the rest of us, the living ghosts of a past life. As I got home, I looked around the empty street. This was probably the first time I find so many parking spaces for my car. I ran on the dusty stairs towards my house, towards the roof where I kept my cats.
The minute I opened the roof’s door, two of them ran towards me, rubbing their backs and their noses on my hand. The other two sat as far from me as possible as if blaming me for the explosions they’ve been hearing, for the black dirt covering their white coats, for the isolation that was forced on them. I wanted to explain to them the situation, and tell them that the place we ran to is already crowded with people, which is why there is no place better for them at the moment. I don’t think they want to listen for my justifications because we both know it won’t do them any good. In war, the most ridiculous thing you can give a person is a justification.
On my way back to Kaifoun, I knew I had to fill the car with gas. We all know that there is still a good reservoir in the country, even after the Israelis bombed gas stations and gas tanks, but the major gas station owners decided to pass only few amounts to the public so that they get the chance to raise the price of gas. I passed by many stations but they were all closed, either empty or pretentiously empty. When I finally reached a gas station that felt enough pity for us so as to open, I had to wait in line for my turn. I waited for around 15 minutes to reach the gas hose. I told the man in charge that I want to fill it up. He said he’ll fill an amount that costs 10000L.L. not more because he has to serve other people, and there’s not enough for everyone. I said that my car needs more than that amount. He replied that I should fill from more than one gas station since they were doing the same. I paid, and left. The things we used to take for granted. I used to fill gas in my car only after the empty sign lights because I was sure that there’s always a gas station nearby, wherever I am, and it was always ready to serve me, fill up my car, wipe its front and back glass windows, and even give away small gifts like tissue boxes, cups, and bowls, just for the mere satisfaction of the client. Now, the client drives around in a half-full tank, begging any man seen standing on a gas station to put some gas in his car, if only an amount equal to those he spent looking for more gas. I used to think that whenever I turn my bathroom’s faucet, water will come out. I used to press the electricity button with an automatic expectation that the room’s bulb will light on. I’m not certain of those anymore. We get electricity 12 hours a day, and there is water as much as we’ve bought from the water distributor at the beginning of the week. All of a sudden, everything became scarce. Gas, electricity, water, money…Thank God, we still don’t have money problems, but we’re scared to spend. Mom and Dad aren’t working. No one has worked for the last 20 days, which is why all incomes have stopped. Although there are many restaurants opened in secured places, we prefer not to go. If feels so wrong. We neither have money nor do we accept to sit somewhere, having lunch and listening to music, when we can clearly hear el-da7yeh
getting bombed, or when we know that 30 minutes away, in the south, children are getting mutated and murdered by internationally banned bombs that use microwave rays to cause internal explosions rather than external wounds. No human should accept that.
There’s a lot to say. There’s so much anger from a situation in which 750 persons were massacred, and over 2000 injured for a land that is rightfully ours, for a single plea of prisoners exchange. How can anyone actually believe that Israel is defending itself? In war, the most ridiculous thing you can give a person is a justification. It’s useless.