For the longest time I said: “I would never leave Lebanon.”
“Even if I seek advanced training abroad, I will definitely come back.”
I didn’t… yet.
What I always cherished about Lebanon, Lebanon still has.
So why don’t I go back!?
What I always despised about Lebanon, still plaques it. But I never lost hope for change and the passion to partake in it.
So why don’t I go back!?
I have friends back home that I call family. I have family there as close as friends.
The village is so authentic and always brought me flashbacks of a memorable childhood. The city is vibrant and always kept me mindful of the moment.
In the village, our toys were mostly hand-made, our neighbours would never call before they show at your doorstep, a walnut tree that my dad planted is now as old as I am: with taller branches, deeper roots and obviously never left.
In the city, people demonstrated resilience and a passion for life. When Israel bombed Beirut in 2006, people refused to stop dancing, nightlife moved to Faraya. Refugees of one region became the guests of the other. International festivals remained louder than bombs.
In Beirut, the mountains are close; the weather is forgiving; the sea is calming.
In the mountains, the sea is close; the weather is forgiving; the mountain is peaceful.
Or at least, that is how I remember it!
I listen to Lebanese news daily. Media masters the art of keeping us worried. “Shou 3am biseer 3indkon?” (“What’s happening back home?”) I would call worried. “Ma fi shi” (“There is nothing”) my sister would Watsapp back from Rabbit Hole in Hamra. “Ma 3am nisma3 el akhbar” (“We are not listening to the news”) my mom would say. “Bikoun firkay3” (“It is likely fireworks”) she might add reassuringly.
I spent one month in Lebanon in June 2013 for LebMASH work. I did not have time for the news, or maybe I subconsciously avoided it. One day, my brother called from Ireland worried. I giggled as I responded “Ma fi shi”. It is likely survival skills instinctually developed by people who chronically live with political or military instability.
I have those skills, so why don’t I go back!?
A paradox of a nation whose streets witness all types of protests and demonstrations (political coalitions named after the days when they protested: March 8 vs March 14): the tire-burning, the road-blocking, the rainbow-flag-waving, the anti-west & the anti-anti-West, the secular & the sectarian, the righteous & the “righteous”, the activists’ & the blind followers’, the peaceful & the armed, the spontaneous & the planned, the workers’, the unions’, the womyn’s (usually few and loud) & the womyn’s (an effortless collection of a sea of womyn-in-black), the liberal & the conservative, the marathons, and marathons & more marathons, with different causes, and recently different sponsors. Even walls fall victims to a graffiti war, the safest war Lebanon to ever witness. What an oxymoron!
Is it Lebanon’s unique schizophrenia that keeps it vaguely charismatic?
If charismatic I perceive it, why don’t I go back!?
A question that has been troubling me for some time, and I am yet to arrive at a reasonable answer!
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