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Monday, January 2, 2012

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

Chapter Four

    I used to love Sundays. We used to go out, twice a month to Harissa, through cable car, have lunch in its restaurant, overlooking the breathtaking Jounieh bay, and the two remaining Sundays were divided between flower picking during spring and barbecuing during winter. Summer meant beach to us. I can pretend to be born in the water! Seashore was few hundreds meters away from home. 
    I have used dozens of paint tubes on pebble drawing. I had bags of shells.

    At the time, only two or three resorts were built on the shore, the rest was called "Saint Balech", or "Free Saint", referring to saints names given to resorts and centers. Saint Balech was for everybody. 
Beautiful scenery, feet in the salty water, I would look up and see Harissa on the mountain, so far, and yet so close, or, head in the clouds, look down from Harissa and see my bay, so close and yet so far! 

    We didn't have a car, and didn't need one actually. Everything was a walk away: my school two and a half minutes walk, the main square 3 minutes, the only supermarket, 5 minutes, the sea, 7 minutes... This was our world. We couldn't go further. Further meant danger.

    I counted all the slabs of the sidewalk for years. These sidewalks were a part of my daily life. Of my story. But not all stories are nice memories...

One day, while on our way to the market, I heard an awful human scream... We were on the sidewalk... My mom tried to shut my eyes, but it all happened in a split second... Down the road there was a blue Camaro car (very trendy at the time), going so fast... and at the back...I saw him... I saw the voice screaming. At the back of the car, there was a human being, dragged by a rope fixed at the back of the blue Camaro... screaming, screaming, screaming...

Finally mom managed to hide my face on her tummy... but it was already too late.

Another time I was lucky enough to be spared from seeing another atrocity on the main place of Jounieh... We also happened to be on this sidewalk, but a little further from the house, close to the main square... My mom was quick enough to turn around and run back to the house. She saw it, I didn’t. Two cars splitting a living human being in two, by holding his hands tied with a rope to a car , and his legs to another car parked the opposite way. They start up their engine at the same time, and enjoy the scenery. It wasn’t an exception at all. But I didn’t see it, only heard the story many years later, after hearing similar ones from almost all parties...

Weird...even in killing there’s an art, a degrading one.

Until today, that man’s voice still hunt my mind at night... I still remember his body, the blue Camaro car, the rope, and especially... the driver’s smile...


  1. So poignant... A story each one of us could tell, yet you do it so beautifully... Looking forward to more of you memories.. our memories..

  2. Thank you so much Ghida for your kind thought!It means a lot here...
    I went to your blog, I'm reading your soul there! beautiful!
    But tell me how did you manage to post a comment? my friends and readers are complaining for not being able to!

  3. I didn't have any problem doing it. Wrote , published, previewed, entered verification characters:)... I don't know if my blogger account made it easier?? Yet anyone should still be able to publish as anonymous. I am sure your readers have a lot to say and share. Good luck!
    And btw,thanks, my blog is honored...

  4. Very moving. Jennifer S. tells me you work with children on war memory and conflict transformation. Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous

  5. Thank you so much Eugene... Yes, I do work with children and youth, and it's a very challenging task!

  6. it is always great reading such posts, this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information. Very fascinating read, thanks for sharing this post here.

    Flower of Lebanon

  7. Thank you so much Ryan for your encouragement and your honest feedback. It means a lot.