The diaspora was my mother's water breaking —
It was a surgeon's clamp and my father's hands
nervously guiding a pair of scissors.
Doctors waded through and dissected every syllable of name,
as my head rested in my mother’s arms
while my father whispered surah al-Fatiha* in my ear.
My parents fed me stories of al-Dahiyeh,
they clothed me in south Lebanon
and lulled me to sleep with the perfume of my grandmother's garden
while she hummed songs on the balcony —
the sun dancing across her tongue.
My childhood is written across every line in my mother’s face
We have a lot of buildings in Beirut. We have more than we need, yet we build more while completely disregarding abandoned buildings that, if used, could revitalize our relationship with our built environment.
It has become trendy among the Western left to meet with the right over Syria. There is actually no debate on Syria in Western countries. In fact, debate is highly discouraged. Debate is seen as a political sin. Only one point of view is permitted on Syria; you may search American newspapers over a three-year period to find no trace whatsoever of any critique of the Syrian “revolution”.
Culinary cultural appropriation is part and parcel of bourgeois methodology — it is one component which contributes to the sustainment of complex economic and political domination of one social class over another. The power of such domination has proven destructive as it willfully facilitates the erasure of entire communities. In the case of Palestine, we find that subjugation of Palestinian society is strengthened by neocolonialism, and by the circulation of slick disinformation which accuses Palestinians of being “an invented people” with one hand, while it steals from indigenous cuisine with the other.
Last Sunday was the thirty-ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War that continues until today. We tend to talk about it in the past tense, “Let it be remembered but not repeated,” in attempts to lead normal lives, but we are failing miserably.
I don’t know about you but I was not one of those who now claim that they were opposed to the Lebanese Civil War all along. That was not my story at all. I did not hold candle vigils and I never chanted for peace in my life. I never admired Gandhi. I was 15 when the war broke out back in 1975 (to the day). It was a Sunday and my parents were at a social event in Aynab in the mountains of Lebanon. They came home reporting an eerie sense in the deserted streets of Beirut. The war that I was eagerly expecting finally broke out.
This story was inspired by #ImagineAFeministInternet
The sunlight gently danced across her face until it rested around her eyes, slowly wrestling them open. She roughly turned over, unwilling to yield to the call of the resplendent sun. As soon as sleep began to paralyze and her consciousness began to wane the birds inaugurated their morning performance with back-and-forth screeching. What time is it? She groaned as her hands blindly rode up and down the sides of her bed, searching for her phone — this instrument of subtle madness. 7:02AM, fuck. It was too late to take refuge in sleep now, she had her 40 winks and the luster of the sandman’s grit had long paled. And so she pulled away the bed-sheets and began the arduous task of greeting the morning. Soon the pungent fragrance of coffee pervades the entire house as she fills up her cup with one hand, cellphone held tightly in the other.
I’ll take a wild guess and say that my initial reaction is the same as yours: Ask Google. So I typed in my query, and the search engine had no specific answer. I learned though that the death toll in Syria has surpassed 150,000. I felt nothing.
People of my generation of Arabs have fallen in the worst era: those of us who came of age after the 1967 war are said to be full of despair and pessimism. It is true that those who witnessed, even as children, the news and public mood that followed the 1967 defeat suffer from a complex. They tend to be cynical and often look for the worst aspect of things. If Arabs of a previous generation insisted on turning all defeats into victories, people of my generation seem to insist on turning hope into despair, and even military accomplishments (as was the case in the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon) into defeats.
History is often composed of ignored stories etched out in the stillness, bellowed through fits of madness and confidently whispered behind closed doors — it is an arrangement of words that have fallen between the cracks of hands and lips; patches sewn together, holding narratives tightly in their seams. The media has a hand to play in not only how we come across these narratives but the way in which we view those distributing them. Take for example women of color, who are routinely left stranded on the outskirts watching from afar as they are dissected, analyzed, and their identities methodically wiped away by those in positions of power.