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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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

Chapter Three

    War was far from us, we were in Jounieh, killing was very far...down in Beirut Center...22 Km away!
Two worlds apart.

    My daily life was still the same, if it wasn't for this ugly voice on the radio. I kept going to untie Badiaa's house behind the shop, play, eat, nap, and get lots of cuddles, stories and laughs. And when I wasn't behind the shop, fun followed me home. I was the only child in the building, and somehow, the center of attraction. Met a lot of love and care. I had no brothers and sisters, no dad, but a lot of love from neighbors, friends, teachers, nuns at school and strangers. I was in a warm nest. Mom was considered a stranger to take care of, but I was one of them! After all, I was born here, and was growing up a little every day.

    Mom kept her snack for a while. Then one day, she came home and we never stepped into our shop again.
I didn't understand at the time. Mom was not working anymore, but I was still having fun, and enjoying my days.

    We kept our friendship with untie Badiaa for long years. But my mom started to make a long detour to get to her house instead of the easy shortcut we always took when we had the snack. Every time I begged her to take the shortcut, she would say no, let's have a walk on the other side...
She never even looked at her shop since then.

    For years I kept sneaking to the closed place, from the garden behind, when playing at untie Badiaa, not to the front door, but to the back of the shop's small window. It was always dark, and no cat or kitten trace.
I didn't understand my mom's hate to the place! It was a nice place!

    Long years after, when I was able to hear tough stories, my mom finally answered my question:"Why did you close the snack and spent months not working?"

She took a long breath and told me what happened....

    One day, she was behind the counter, an ex-officer now turned militia, came in, he greeted her, put his hand in his pocket, grabbed something, and threw it on the counter saying: " Layla, make me a sandwich with these please!"
She looked and nearly fainted. There was a pair of bloody human ears !!!!
The man's reaction was hysterical. He started laughing his guts and said:"what's the problem with you? these are just a dirty Palestinian ears!"

That was her last day there. She decided to close her snack and go home...

    Human mutilation was a normal trophy on all sides in Lebanon. Ears, noses, eyes, genetic organs...every part was useful to show off, and prove the number of exploits...

When my mom told me her story...I stopped sneaking into that small window. But I still wonder about that cat, and that jukebox... I wonder who's dancing on my music and enjoying my memories...

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