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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Writing my history of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990)

After attending the "Healing Wounds of History" conference (11-13 Nov 2011) in LAU campus Byblos, organized by LAU and The Center for Lebanese Studies, and after I discovered the importance of communicating and sharing our deep trans-generational wounds if we want to learn something from the past, I decided to start blogging my own memories of the Lebanese war like many people who attended this transforming conference, trying to heal the wounds I thought are way behind...
The NAY group from Healing Wounds of History November 2011 conference-LAU

Chapter one

1975- I was four years old. My mom had a snack restaurant near the military barrack of Sarba, Keserwan province. I have the nicest memories at the back of the snack, and in the main hall. Still remember the Jukebox, and the wonderful music it had on the LPs inside.

With mom

    We had a cat there, and a nice neighbor living in the middle of a hidden misplaced prairie behind the snack. I used to go play and eat the tastiest oriental cakes, at Badiaa and téta Mémé, climb the trees, run after hens among the flowers in the spring...
Auntie Badiaa's backyard

    I remember one particular client. An officer, tall, handsome and very funny. He used to come buy a sandwich or two, insert a coin in the Jukebox, and start a private show just for me. The show was always the same; he would dance like a Russian, the Trepack, whatever the song was, playing tricks with his lit cigarette, laughing to see me amazed. I was the audience he wanted. Finally he used to carry me and turn so fast... I used to love it.

    One day, we were inside, we heard loud sounds on the highway. Everybody went out to see. And there was a long queue of tanks and jeeps passing. I was in my mom's skirt, sneaking. I remember hearing the grown ups talking in anxiety."Why are they pulling the army from Beirut? They should be down, bringing order again!". "They are withdrawing to their barracks...this is bad...leaving the battlefield to militias..."
   That didn't mean a lot to me at the time, but felt the stress of grown ups. And, just like a bad dream, this scene was swept by our daily life that went as usual. Usual? not quiet... Soon, the jukebox was replaced by a small transistor, with ugly serious voices speaking in monotony all day, after the same "flash" music round the hour. I used to hate those voices, they wouldn't stop. Every time I wanted a coin for the Jukebox, grown ups would say: "not now", and shushed me. "shhh, wait, let us listen, not now, in a while..."

    Our cat's belly was growing everyday, but she was still kind enough to let me caress her at the back of the shop when the ugly monotonous voices were talking.

    Few weeks later, as I was sitting calmly among grown ups, I heard them talking with sad voices. I became the invisible child every one of us knows how to be when we want to hear forbidden stories. So they forgot I was sitting there and shared the news....

    Fady, my officer friend/entertainer was killed. I didn't know about death yet, but I still remember the rock I felt on my chest. Although death was a tough subject to understand, I knew that he isn't coming anymore for me. I felt the hurt, and didn't get the reason at the time.

    I started to forget about the Jukebox, in fact i started hating it. But, I soon had other issues to take care of. Our cat surprised me one morning with her 6 kittens! Suddenly, life was funny again!

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