Archive for August, 2010

Remembering

Friday, August 20th, 2010

It is always surreal to me to think that I’ve walked on pavement in Lebanon where a person was murdered, left to bleed, rotted, covered his face from a bullet. It’s common for me to walk down the street, ride in a taxi or walk by someone sitting watching all corners on a ragged street chair, and wonder if these faces watched someone die by their hands. It’s disconcerting to hear war stories from a friend or acquaintance, over dinner or a walk, in between ice cream licks or chatter about this boy or that unforgettable trip to Tyr. They may tell me that a bullet came through this window or that, or a rocket burned their house down. Or that their art is, surprisingly, filled with war memories. It’s always fascinating to hear my grandfather’s stories about when he alone stayed behind in the village during the civil war to save his furniture, then making friends with the invaders. Then just surviving the rocket that entered his house – because he chose to sleep in the family room rather than his bedroom.  It’s normal to forget about the still standing, hallowed out buildings; it wouldn’t be Lebanon without them. It’s finally that we can drive on the highways that have been rebuilt after their destruction during the July 2006 war. It’s mathematical; I realize that my students were born in the year that I first visited Lebanon. My counterparts were mostly little kids running to the basement for safety in the ‘80s. My little cousins’ memories of war exist only the blood they’ve inherited. It’s surreal. I live in Hamra, where a community regularly circles the same art openings, plays, cafes, parties. We regularly see the sun rise above the rims of our cups. We meet people from all over the world who have come to Lebanon to mill through their exotic fantasies, the history, the night.  Yet, those who call this place home prepare for a violent past to come for a visit.  And it’s very real that people hear their footsteps on the pavement a little more loudly, as a result. This is what this piece made me think about.

“The Safety of Objects” in Jadaliyya