Monday, July 24, 2006

An essay

I woke up today and I didn’t know what day it was….no… no…it was not that I didn’t know what the date was…I didn’t know if it was a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday…whatever…I found this rather weird….I sat and thought and played back the last few days in order to try and find a trigger that can lead me to know what day it was…but I could not pinpoint any event that would guide me to know. I had no classes to gage to…I had no work…I had no activity….there was no real way for me to find out what the day was….and then I began to laugh…albeit hysterically…I woke my sister to ask her and she just replied 'shut up Rena.'

This worried me….not the 'shut up Rena' just the fact that days seemed to flow into others with no clear reference of beginning and end.

Actually a lot of things are worrying me but sometimes just picking one of them, the simplest in fact, and the most stupid, then obsessing over it is the best thing to do.
So I obsessed over what day it was.
It felt good.
Funny what makes me feel good these days.

I have tried writing this for the past week but it all kept staying in my head. Wael asked me if I was writing…I said no….he said you should… but I knew it refused to come out. I would discuss what I wanted to write in my head to myself, actually write it in my head but when I, in reality, do sit in front of the computer and begin…nothing would come out. All these thoughts in my head are so jumbled and contrasted that I do not even know how this essay will come out…probably a reflection of the turmoil in my head….a bunch of mixed up nonsensical sentences…

The normal rhythm of life has stopped. I have to force myself to get up in the morning and do the normal things I did once unconsciously. And I find it is a physical effort. This is what happens when your mind is in overdrive? When there is so much to think about it just breaks down...? or is it the other way round…now that we do not have to think about things like work…deadlines…lovers…mothers…cell phones…weekends…we are left with the bare truth…life is survival…but survival with pride.

I see all the people evacuating…how does it make me feel?...sad…angry…I keep having this thought that if they were not allowed to leave would their governments care enough to actually stop the bombing?...Is this what they call human shields? I guess so… and that is such a politically incorrect thing to think about...politically incorrect…that is funny…fits so many things happening these days…....I think of what would happen if the Israelis actually had the gall to bomb one of the evacuating ships…what would happen then? I find it ironic that the US, UK and France (yes I know, among others) are now evacuating their citizens just as the bombs they have created/sold to Israel fall on our heads…isn’t it ironic? Isn't it ironic that the lull in bombing in Beirut is happening as these people are being evacuated…although the South keeps being pounded….

I ask myself if I could evacuate would I? Or would my sense of pride never allow me to leave….pride? what pride?....it is a strange word to use….you are screwed if you stay and screwed if you go….if you stay…you might die…ok…simple…if you leave…I know this feeling…I have felt it and it is so much worse than living this madness…when something happens in Lebanon and you are overseas….that feeling of helplessness….the feeling of despair and being useless…the constant thinking of family and friends…and then…comes the feeling of guilt….because you are safe but Lebanon isn’t. So this time I find myself here…in Beirut, Lebanon …it is bittersweet…because it is an easier feeling…and I would rather be here than sitting in front of some computer somewhere in Kingston, Canada…I feel the people overseas who really care about Lebanon are now going through hell…. a worse kind of hell….

Shall I talk politics? Good question…I have decided not to…since it is truly the route of all arguments….

I went to the demonstration today. There were more people than I thought. I saw some friends…
Kiss kiss kiss…
Glad to see you are safe…
Are you leaving?
Staying?
The normal conversation I am sure most people are having….

What can I say…When at the end of the demonstration some people started yelling 'Hezbollah…Hezbollah' I left….it was not a political demo. As I walked away I was talking to my friend saying 'well now on CNN all they will do is air that there was a demo and then they will have the Hezbollah chanting…and we will appear to be stupid loudmouths who just yell blindly Hezbollah Hezbollah…..' The woman walking next to me looked at me in a funny way and I quickly explained to her I was being sarcastic…she said no…. no we were happy to hear our feelings being voiced…You see there was no political message in the demo it was just one to ask that the bombing be stopped. I couldn’t but feel disgusted. The population is split down the middle as you all know. The supporters of the Hezbollah and the ones who think that they were wrong….but in the end…who cares? You will never change the other's opinion so why bother? …after all this analysis…..we hear ourselves saying…'so and so…before the war'….before the war? That was a phrase I thought we had finally forgotten….but I guess it was a naïve hope…and a dream…..and like all hopes and dreams they will never come to anything….

Why the mass demonstrations for Iraq and now the international community seems to have all come down with laryngitis? Are we not good enough? Has Israel got such a good marketing campaign going that it knows it will never happen? Will it? ..I no longer have any faith in the international community …their governments….their NGO's…their citizens….no one…all I want is my country back…a country that will rely on no one and can simply live…

Live

What a simple word…right now we are not living…we are surviving….there is a big difference….

I have not cried yet.
Really.
I refuse to cry.
It is a pride issue. I feel angry and frustrated as most people do I guess….but at the same time…I feel pissed off….lost…furious….but mostly I feel rage. All that good psychological crap about 'put your rage to work'…'turn it into something positive'…ha…that is funny….

I have been helping some friends who have been given two schools to take care of. For those who do not know… this means we send them food…we get the bags….fill them with the allotted food…bread…canned meat…tuna…juice…honey….basically any food that we find to buy….is it depressing?...yes…but who will do it if we do not?...I have friends who...at least for the next few days they have food…basic necessities….I found I couldn’t just sit at home and watch the TV…this way at least…in the simplest ways…I feel I am doing something to help….not wasting time away….and that is a better feeling….each does what they can….

I also find I forget to eat…I go through the whole day without eating much….I have begun to drink Pepsi again…this was something I was trying to stop…is this akin to smokers who begin to smoke more?...maybe….but the few times I had eaten was not my own cooking as I do not have the necessary patience or effort to cook…..how do these other people bother to cook?...we go to the few restaurants that are open, tell jokes…try to forget…laugh over my cousin's postponed marriage (she has yet to find it funny but we are sure she will someday)…then a loud sound breaks the air…an Israeli bomb…and we are quiet for a second….no one flinches though….we try to find out where the bomb hit…and then we carry on the conversation….keep it simple…you see…when the bomb actually does fall on our heads…well…we will never know and we will be other bodies used on CNN…oh wait…no CNN filters its images so I guess…no only the audience tuned to Arab channels will get that particularly poignant image….maybe I should colour code ourselves…that way we will know…since they might have no faces….and when they are removed from the rubble we will know who they are….and not waste money on DNA analysis….yes yes…I know…but sarcasm rules these days….

I have wanted to go for a run for a week but I have felt guilty that I could do something so selfish….after talking to some friends they informed me that they had been going to the gym for an hour each day to relieve some of the frustration we all feel …I just thought running would be…I do not know how to explain…like I didn’t feel what was happening around me…like I didn’t care….and looking at the empty Corniche each day I felt guilty that all the people who usually spend time there are now refugees….so who was I to use it now? But I think I will go…tonight….a semblance of some bygone reality…

Actually there is a lot of funny things around…maybe this is the things we should concentrate on…the jokes are beginning…my friend who is going to do her masters in the UK in September…I saw her at the demonstration and told her…'this is our way to send you off with a big bang'…ok I guess it is not so funny…you have to be here I guess …well what can I say? If you loose your sense of humour then we are truly lost….I cannot…if I no longer try to find a joke somewhere then what else do we have left? We laughed for ever at the bombs dropped on the well diggers in Ashrafieh…my… my…that was really funny….can you imagine… the entire Israeli army and they bomb an old truck with a rusty drill? ...come on that is funny….'intelligence' at work…must have used a Syrian radar!!!

I love the way CNN and BBC are showing the evacuees…but what about the poor families who are now refugees in their own country?...what about the 40 member family living in a 2m by 2m room? Who is talking about that…with no electricity…running water…with children who are going stir crazy…who is thinking of them?...no no…let us worry about the poor Israelis living in the bomb shelters with all the facilities they need…they are the poor ones…they are the sad ones….we should truly feel sorry for them….they are getting distraught about getting hit by Katyousha rockets…ha ha…what a joke…the world is buying it….can you imagine?...can you fathom it on any scale…? Ok Ok…I will get political here…no matter what I think of Hezbollah I truly believe that all this talk about them starting this whole thing by kidnapping the two soldiers is utter crap… believe me….the Israelis have been doing that to us for years and years….and not just for Hezbollah members…they can over fly Lebanese airspace and all we get is the standard UN….'we are concerned about the ..bla bla bla….'…all the people that have been bombed in their cars, inside Lebanon…all the fisherman kidnapped, in Lebanese waters…all the times the Israelis have entered Lebanon illegally….when they bombed us for diverting water from a river, inside Lebanon…but all the people in the 'west' do not know this….they know nothing of what Israel does…really does… the great Israeli propaganda machine..…read the blogs…I mean…this entire world has been brainwashed and who gives a shit? Oh yes…Bush gives a shit…he found a way to 'end this shit'….

But honestly what is there to laugh about?....Families have been torn apart…people living as refugees again….the country is in ruin…but we will look for the jokes…..we have to… I just watched a report on TV that a box of cigarette has become more expensive…this is funny…the whole country is bombed to hell and he is worried that his cigarettes will become expensive…I thought…well at least there is some positive thing…..more expensive the less people will smoke…I think not…another naïve hope…..

The internet…wow…in all the wars we had had…the internet has never been used as a tool…well since technically it was not yet born….so now…for the first time in my life I sit and read blogs and letters people have sent to the BBC…it is very funny when you see all the pro Israel letters are usually from the US and UK…does the UK feel so guilty about putting us all in this mess? No…can you imagine if Israel was created in Uruguay? Wasn't that one of the countries on the list?...you see I shouldn’t even write Israel I should write Occupied Palestine….that is the politically correct thing to do….my politically correct….

Even this essay…such a diarrhea of thoughts and words…and I finally find…I have really said nothing….nothing of any importance anyway…I think deep down…I do not want anyone's pity.. in fact I want nothing from anyone…I just want them to leave us alone….all of them….I do not care who is right and who is wrong…and I do not care for ideologies and I do not care for anything except Lebanon….that is as straightforward as I can get….

I will end now.

I did find out what day it was.
It is Monday…it is Monday…and tomorrow is Tuesday….

See how simple life is?

Rena
Beirut
Lebanon

9 Comments:

Blogger Angel said...

Stay strong....
Please know that some of us Americans are terrified about what's happening to your country and your people.
Thank you for sharing.
I pray this will stop soon.

4:04 PM  
Blogger unreasonableadults said...

thank you rena. you have put more into context than all the news we receive here in australia. know there is a critical mass out there that can see through the propaganda of the west and feels deeply... and sends you all the peace, courage and humour necessary to continue. please keep writing. much antipodean love.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Maddy said...

Stay strong Rena, many people all over the world hear your voice and are praying for you.

12:53 AM  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

Thank you.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Maher said...

I came to your blog because of Zena's recommendation (beirutupdate.blogspot.com). Thank you so much for your beautiful writing.

I currently live in Maryland. With your words you have perfectly captured my feeling of despair and helplessnes since I am so far away from our country. In the beginning of last year I had begun to plan to visit Beirut since it had been 3 years. Then those plans became impossible as a result of Hariri's assassination and its aftermath. Also I started a new job which kept me very busy. Earlier this year I once again hoped to come to Beirut but now that is on hold. I feel so frustrated. Although this may seem selfish to some since so many people are truly suffering during this time, the feeling is simply genuine and I cannot help it.

My main reaction to the war so far has been to immerse myself in all forms of news that I can get my hands on. I'm thankful for blogs like yours and Zena's that have given me the human perspective that no news source is capable of providing.

Please be safe.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Helpless in Canada said...

The exact flury of feelings I go through being away, the guilt, the worry, the tears...

7:50 AM  
Blogger Lora Gordon said...

Rena - Thank you so much for this blog. I spent a semester in Beirut right after the Hariri assassination, jogged the Corniche, could picture it just as you described. What can I say. I am just horrified and enraged, not just at the bombing but at the complicity of the media here (I am American) and of my community (I am Jewish). Stay strong and keep writing. When I read your words, I can actually feel what is happening there. It is the next best thing to actually being there (you're right, the being far away and not knowing is awful).

10:05 AM  
Blogger FADE said...

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4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather always said, “Don’t watch your money; watch your health.” So one day while I was watching my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather.funny email joke

5:44 PM  

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