Beirut and the discontinuity of happiness*

I chose to return to Beirut, yet living here is not painless. The every day struggle to have a regular day of problems is energy, nerves, & pills-consuming. My eyesight has shrunk from daily tensions. The Dalai Lama would curse in Beirut.

In the middle of the electricity breaks, the car honking festivals, the summer water cuts, the dirty floors of the ministry of Labor, there exist instances:
The smell of a chawarma sandwich in a tiny snack in a side street next to a parking lot
The sudden appearance of sparkling stars over blue & green waves after a forty-five-minute-traffic jam
The right balance of ingredients -sound, wind, light, and cup of tea- in Rawda Cafe
The old man working at the sweet shop in Hamra that looks like my late grandfather
And I suddenly understand why I am here.

After a tough day at work, where the basic ethics and rights are trashed with a mental paper shredder, there exist instances on the way home:
An unusually funny Taxi story, the right Abdelhalim Hafez song, while the spring sun joins along the ride
An unexpected gesture from an unknown man selling fruits: you don’t have money habibi, no problem, take the bananas, and bring it later
A warm hello from a person you barely know while crossing the street giving you back some of the respect you have lost in the morning
And I suddenly understand why I am here.

Everyday, I live nature’s four seasons. I laugh, I fume, I lose my mind, and I cry.
But then, there can be moments:
Walking on the “corniche” with a woman, and the waves whispering new lines of poetry
Listening to a friend singing, with a voice as sad as a flute in a summer night
Growing under my grandmother’s cotton blankets and the smell of stuffed grape leaves in sick afternoons
And I suddenly understand why I am here.

*This text is inspired from a poem by Mahmood Darwish entitled “على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة"


Jaleela said...

That's beautiful Abdul... made me remember why I yearn to get back there, and happy to see that some of these scenes are real and not just in the head of a lover wanting to see only the best in her beloved city.
Wonderfully written...

Abdul said...

Thank you Jaleela for your nice words... It is a realistic reconciliation text with a city beyond black & white...