Decorating the Sorrow

Lights & colors, joy & love, decorations sparkling from outside to cover the darkness, the sorrow, the pain, the suffer of forced pale smiles covered with colors. Colors which are fading with every striking light and every forward step.

The way it all comes to be perceived, to be coming into something; something realistic, near the common sense of pure happiness. It fades with every step toward the exotic joy and lights, as if it is meant to lose something of its originality in the process. As if the power of the glow, the sense of it all is meant to be lost, meant to be colorless, lifeless, and pale.

As if carrying all the colors with you is impossible, as if it is the price you pay, the price to be able to move forward, to be where you are and who you are, and how you come to be.

As if being black and white is what it takes to get to the place you aim, to be at.

You stand long, colorless, hallow from inside, empty, deadly walking, heavily breathing, it somehow hurts when you smile as a hard-tough exercise, an effortful job, something you hardly do, as if it is not that easy and simple, as if the burdens of the universe are thrown on your shoulders.

Dusty issues accumulating from within until you can no longer breathe, until you can only feel the pain arousing in your chest, oxygen escaping from every cell inside of you, and your eyes can barely open.

You end-up as a colorless image, messily colored, as if a child had drawn and colored you messily, a massive huge mess, a colorless useless image messily colored. Badly colored and hideously decorated to hide the true darkness from within between somehow the true joy out there.

Overwhelming

​Strange looking faces, voices that makes no sense to you, cold, abounded, leftovers of what once was great, a left behind place for the silence of the wind and the reflections of the shadows.

Emptiness that kills the worries, brings calamity for a busy mind, awakens a dormant soul, a peace driven to the body out of the place’s beauty.
A sight ahead into the wild, above the mountains,deep in the forest, a forgotten soul is left to the struggling of the cold and the echoes of the wild.
A simple smile, between the coldest of the white, is enough to warm up the spirit within while the  body is forgotten to the struggle of the cold.
Who cares for the cold,  when the eyes are satisfied, the silence overwhelms you with peace, and the lips are smiling warmly. 

So-called Lucky

As teens living outside the city, Beirut, represented for us the chance of change, and for some it was the freedom, and the land of dreams come true. Our short visits were to escape the routine life and enjoy the smallest things as a featured movie premiere, shopping, and the small adventures. The people of the city seemed to be the happiest on earth for us. By the time we had to attend university, those who moved to Beirut were called the lucky ones.  They were So-called Lucky, for having the chance of moving to the city with the baggage of dreams and ambitions, which will soon become real.

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The reality though hits you in the face, the dream city is in fact the dream destroyer, the people of the city are afraid to get out and face the sun. Heads down they move, their daily habits are robotic wise, and their nightlife isn’t but a way to hide their misery, and breakdowns. This city embraces the little of its people and ignores the rest.

Looking back at younger versions of you, the ones of big dreams, the ones with highly ambitions, and all you see is a bunch of dreams leftovers. The lucky ones are no longer here they left to a city where they can feel alive again. The ones here are living a life of an adventure, surprises are an every day event, working towards a dream, running and running until it becomes part of them. Where happy news are surprising, and success will come after you’re too exhausted to enjoy it; where the taste of it is no longer meaningful.

Beirut bewitches you into loving it, loving every part of this clumsy stupid city, the city of contradictions, the city of magic, ugliness, and beauty. It reflects on you it’s useless past and unconcealed problems, it crushes you and brings you to life everyday with every step.

The old version of you, the dreamful, ambitious person, the one that wanted to change everything , to step over any obstacle, and go beyond the negativity of the daily life, is now just an image and a reflection of this city. You are a reflection of its old buildings, which are fighting everyday to keep on breathing, a reflection of its dark pathways and scary alleys. Only on good days you feel the belonging to the beauty of this capital city.

You now are one of this city’s faces, one of the people moving around with a smile, and burying in the truth of this clumsy, stupid, crazy, enchanted city. This city is clumsy indeed; nothing in it is but a big mess and bunch of things and nothing.

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Places & Memories

It is all about the memories, what stays behind; after an adventure, an encounter, and an experience; are the memories. Memories last forever they say, it is engraved in your backup brain and in the deepest of your dusty feelings.

Memories are sweet and bitter, life and death; it is the beauty and the ugliness of wishing to forget as wishing to remember. Places though are cold, lifeless, bunch of stones and wide empty fields, still places are the stage of our memories. As a certain place triggers a memory that was lost and dusted.

Places provide a reason for the hibernating memories, to get in front, to take the lead, and present itself. Meaningless places to one are a huge pain to another, the way places enfold secrets and events. There is a story and a memory behind everything, how things got organized the way they are, how a bunch of pictures got in place, even when all is gone you still see the trace of it on the walls and behind the closed doors.

The whole atmosphere of the places evokes back the images, the feelings, and the whole bunch of memories. Sometimes it goes beyond the place and to the actual atmosphere, the common atmosphere places share. When a shared atmosphere affects us, it all comes back at once, rebirth from the past, overtakes the moment, and transfers us back to the time and place of the actual event.

History is written in some places, and if you listen to the voices hidden within the walls, if you look deeply behind the hung pictures, you will be overwhelmed by the places and gone way back in time and you’re there observing as history is being written.

Our elders share a story in these places, we are creating a story here, and the ones that will come after us will create something new. We all keep secret hidden memories in places which are only available to the ones who listen!

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Beirut after Midnight

Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon, the Middle Eastern country. Beirut during the day is a busy crowded city; from the early hours of the morning the streets fill up with people, rushing to schools, offices and wherever they might be going. Throughout the day it is always hard to get to an appointment on time; unless you leave before at least an hour from the scheduled time. Beirut after midnight though is a whole different world with all its contradictions and magic in some way.

The clock announces midnight, through the windows you can see lights turning off; one after the other, people are hasting to bed after a long working day.  Few lights are flashing out from a student’s room that is staying up late to study; some are just up finishing a movie on T.V, or just laying in bed finishing a book. Out it is all quiet, the neighborhood’s streets are empty except for flashing road lights and few homeless kittens and dogs out there.

In the parallel street laughter have risen above the silence of the night, the voices direct you into a small humble coffee shop. There a bunch of jobless guys gather every night, playing cards, smoking “Hookah”, laughing over a desperate wasted life. Those were not lucky enough to find jobs and opportunities they aspire. For a second, they are distracted from their game to salute their neighbor, the taxi driver, who works all night long till the early hours of the morning, as many others in this city.

He drives away from the suburbs neighborhoods’ of Beirut with its simple life; its citizens whom are struggling to live a regular life and fulfill their dreams. He drives along the streets reaching Cola intersection. A point where during the day is crowded with people, taxis, and buses; it is the starting point towards almost all the different regions in Lebanon. Now it is almost quiet except for few cars, there the first passenger for tonight hops in. The taxi drives away reaching the cornice.

The passenger gets out meeting his friends.  There upon the sound of the striking waves under the moonlight, on the scattered benches all along the sidewalk sat youth having late coffee. Spilling all their secrets and pain to the striking waves that would take it away to the deep of the ocean, others just wrapping up the day’s events and planning for a better tomorrow. The deep conversations and flying dreams are cutoff by a small boy, with his innocent features, and dreamy sad eyes looking up at them, “Flower” he says as he lifts a flower in their direction,        “ No, go away” they dismiss him and carry on with their conversation. Rarely any of the guys buy flowers; he walks away in disappointment when a man from across the street waves at him to come. He is an older man selling flowers as well at the traffic light, the small kid is by his side now, “the business is slow tonight, go try another street and we’ll meet here later” , the older man says as the kid walks away in the opposite direction.

The little kid carries his flowers as he walks through the dark passages all the way reaching Hamra Street. The stores on both sides of the street are already closed, the little kid walks under the sparkling street lights, stopping every now and then to offer his flowers to the passengers in the passing cars. He follows the sound of music coming from the nearest pub, he reaches the front door. The little boy stands there in front of the entrance, near the smokers, gazing at people inside drinking, dancing, laughing joyfully and singing along with the songs, their faces filling with happiness and their eyes sparkling with pleasure. He stands their imaging his future as one of those people drinking and singing freely and happily, he can hear his stomach roars from huger as he gazes at the food on the table inside. “Give me all the flowers” a voice comes from a couple standing just beside him, he moves his gaze from the food to their faces smiling at him as they look tenderly at his pale face, he hands them the flowers as they give him the money when suddenly his stomach roars again loudly, “Are you hungry?” they ask as he raises his head and nods quietly; “Come with us, we’ll get you something to eat”.

The three of them walk away from the music into the empty streets being interrupted by music along the way coming from different scattered pubs in Hamra. In a parallel street, they reach one of the 24/24 restaurants “Barbar”, the little boy stood aside as they adhered to order sandwiches. He stood there trying to guess the names of food placed behind the glass in front of him. “The delivery order is done” the employee shouts from behind as immediately a young man steps and grabs the bags from him. He takes it and walks toward his motorcycle, places them carefully in the bag behind him and takes off.

He drives his motorcycle all the way to the city’s downtown exactly to Beirut Souks. He hands the delivery to a security guard and takes off. The security guard, a young man in his twenties holds the bags and sits on one of the stairs, he takes his sandwich and coke out of the bag, he eats silently as he stares around at the fancy buildings surrounding him, and he thinks about all the branded stores in this place that he cannot afford, he cannot even buy a silly sock from it. He finishes his food and searches his pockets till he finds a piece of paper, he holds it up, and moves on walking around the alleys of the Souks. The paper has few notes for his exam later today; he reads it while he walks around stopping every few minutes to talk to other guards.

Morning lights start to appear the security guard sleepily walks down the street, over there at the corner of the street stands a young beautiful girl. She is in her twenties as well; she works as a receptionist in one of the hotels around. They attend the same university, she looks glad to see him. He stands there by her side smiling at her when another young man interrupts them. He is the bartender in a pub around, just finished his shift as well; he is the guard’s friend and neighbor.

The fellows walk together to catch the bus, while the late pub and nightclubs attendees pass by them in their cars. The attendees are heading to have an early breakfast before going home to sleep the whole day before the next party. As these three barely get time to rest before getting to their universities while others are just waking up to start a new fresh working day.

The bus arrives and they get in and slide beside a young woman. She smiles at their sight, she is a nurse they met in the bus a while ago, and they ran into her whenever she is on night-shift. “Good morning” she says to them in an attempt to sound normal, but she looks very tired, must have been a really rough night.“What’s wrong?”They ask and she answers as pain appears in her eyes: “I just hate night shifts, awful things happen!” she shocks “last night a very sweet old man passed away, he was so nice and none of his family was by his side the moment he died” ,she stops looks at them, she wipes an escaping tear going down her cheek, “ I’m sorry, I ruined your morning , but he has been in the hospital for months now, I guess I just got used to have him around”.  “It’s okay, you don’t have to apologize”, said the girl.

 For the rest of the ride, they sat silently; they were too tired to talk. First, the nurse got out, and then the girl, as the guard gawked at her all the way until she was out of sight. “Just tell her you love her already!” snaps the bartender, he raise his eyebrows at him “No, too soon”.

“What are you waiting for, Till she falls for someone else?”The boy said as the two of them step at the corner street down their neighborhood.

“Till I have something to offer for her” says walking ahead of his friend.

You have your love to offer!” he snaps back.

Not enough, end of story” the guard says as his face turns serious now.

A car passes by them slows a bit and a young man strikes his head out the window “Bye Guys, I will miss you, take care okay”. They look up at him shouting back at him, that’s their neighbor, he is on his way to the airport, he is travelling away to chase after his dreams and ambitions. The driver shouts at him to get his head in as the car moves further from the boys.

The ambitious boy gets back straight in his seat and rolls the window up. They- the boy and his parents- drive towards the airport; the place of the city that never sleeps. All around the day and night, people moving around crying for the departure of a person, and smiling at the arrival of the other accompanied with some tears of joy. Airplanes going forth and back, teams changing but the lights are never off. The car drives into the parking lot, the boy looks around and out of the sudden he is overwhelmed by all this.

He steps out of the car with his parents by his side. They step towards the entrance as he drags his bag by his side this is it, this is goodbye. As they walk out the parking lot he notices people gathering around to place the luggage in the car, laughing with tears of joy in their eyes. While his mom grabs into his arm with teary eyes that express all her pain for letting him go away.

It is time for goodbye for real now; he waves for his parents from behind the glass, and disappears behind the doors. Within minutes, he boards in; he finds his seat besides the window. He thinks to himself this should be the happiest day of my life, it is everything I have ever wanted, I am flying away, I am leaving this city, but actually he is unease. The only thing he could think of is Beirut, the beautiful Beirut, the nights he spent in it with his friends from the drinks they had in a cozy pub, the crazy nights they spent dancing till the morning, the nights they spent on the cornice aspiring and dreaming, dreaming of this moment in specific, the moment they’d leave, but now it is all mixed up and he can’t comprehend it.

It’s around 8:30 a.m. when the plane takes off, flying above the city as it fully recovered from the darkness of the night. The streets are crowded with hurrying people, workers and students. It is Beirut this magical city that enchants you into loving it in everything in it. It is the city of extreme contradictions, Beirut with its beauty and ugliness. It makes you laugh and cry at the same time. You can’t run away from its love, even the ugliness and brutality of it you love. It takes away your dreams and gives you much space of an imagination to escape from it and aspire freely away from its interference.

Life in Beirut is an everyday adventure, it is an everyday story, it is the crushing of a dream by day and the reborn of another after midnight under the moon light and twinkling stars of Beirut. It is the reborn of a dream upon the sound of the waves, upon the clinking of the cups, under the sparkling of the traffic light, and over the ticking clock announcing the end of a shift.

This is Beirut and you can’t but love it as it is….

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Puzzle of Life

It doesn’t matter whether you’re living in a little tiny home or a big wide one since by the end of the day we all feel the same. We all nurture the same feeling of dissatisfaction and fear; fear of this mysterious life with its unknown future.

As human beings, we are never satisfied. When one has the money, he wishes for the family, and when he finally has the family, he wishes to go back to his solo life. We are all rotating in one big circle “life” always wishing for the change and for more and more.

At some point, we reach an uncontrollable feeling of love and happiness that drags with it a strong pitch of pain and misery. We experience a diverse mix of unknown feelings that we are incapable to understand. Until the time we lose someone/ something that the agony arouses.  We feel emptiness that once was filled while we lacked the ability to understand its value. It is the feeling of loss! It is a feeling derived from our own wishes; a wish to exclude someone or something from our life. Only after its loss, one becomes aware of its value, understands the importance of it and the huge empty space it left behind, and how much harder life would be after its loss.

This strong agony drags us into a huge storm of thoughts. We struggle upon thinking of this mysterious life and its secrets, about the future, about tomorrow, and what would happen next.  It’s not the end, the list of wishes continues with us along the journey of Life.  Our mysterious journey was once filled with mixed feelings that now unveil itself as dissatisfaction, fear, and misery.

We lose, gain, fall and stand up again, but we keep on going while fear is growing more and more inside us; the fear of tomorrow. Until one day, when we decide to stand up, face everything around us and understand every single particle in life. When we finally wander around us to see that it isn’t our fault that we lost something, it’s just life’s role, it’s our faith, and it’s our journey in life. It’s the role that in every time it gives us something, it takes something in return.

We understand, think and almost satisfied, but there is one more thing missing. We keep on living till our life’s puzzle is complete, then everything seems to be okay and it’s time to release our trapped souls to find its way back to the origin.

Puzzle of Life

The Laborer

“Parsley, coriander; parsley, coriander….; was it one or two she said?” I search ahead as I catch a sight of his figure at the far distance working in the fields. Now I just have to figure out where to stroll without stepping on any of the fields’ goods from mint, green onions, parsley, coriander, and all kinds of fresh vegetables. As I approach he looks up from where he stands; his shoes are dug in the mud, his old pants and bottom down shirt are stained with mud, his wool hat is covering his head, and upon his wrinkly face appears a shadow of a corner smile. Upon his appearance I get so lost in how he is able to manage all those organized fields and how can he know where each kind is planted?!  By the time I’m standing next to him in the middle of the field I would totally forget what I was coming to get “mm, was it parsley? Coriander? Lettuce and what else? Mmmm” .In his attempt to help me remember what is it I’m missing; he starts asking me what we are having for lunch; maybe he could guess what the last ingredient is.

I was just a little girl around six years old when my mom would send me out to our neighbor’s place “Abou Wafic” to buy some vegetables. The journey would take two minutes through a shortcut road; the first part of the journey consists of reciting over and over again the ingredients you were asked for, then figuring out in which field he is working today, and finally walk after him from one field to another to get it all.

Our neighbor “Abou Wafic” is a local farmer from my hometown village, he works in fields all day long, planting all kinds of organic vegetables with the aid of his wife “Em Wafic”. Whenever you reach his place during the day, you would catch a sight of his working in the field. On the days when he’s out of sight, his wife would step out of the kitchen to help you with what you want. As on Sundays the whole image changes, both of them would be sitting in the shade, surrounded with all kinds of fresh organic vegetables as they prepare bundles of each for Monday’s public bazaar in the area.

The journey to “Abou Wafic” was almost an adventure that always ends with me forgetting one of vegetables on the list, and always getting a special gift which is usually a small lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and once the biggest radish of the season!

This little adventure wasn’t exclusive for me, I was the forth in the raw to have it, as my two elder brothers and my sister share this peculiar experience.  My two brothers and although with a ten years difference, both share the fact that they used to be scared of him at some point for cutting their footballs when it comes across his field;  which later they come to understand that he is only protecting his fields from their evil childishness.  As for my sister she loved visiting them and she always remembers Em Wafic image as she prepares goods and viands.  As for me I was never scared of him, I loved that serious hard-working farmer who has a special place in my childhood memories.

I haven’t seen him for years though, but I do always remember him being back at my hometown village working in the fields as he always does. And whenever I open a package of chamomile, I’m instantly transferred back to be the six years old redhead standing in the light outside an iron door as he or his wife steps in the mysterious dark room to fetch some fresh organic chamomile while I wait outside with the escaping odor of chamomile.

Sometimes you only need one couple to remind you of the real hard work, to show you how hard life could be, and the true meaning of celebrating Labor’s day.

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Trains

At the subway; wandering around, chasing the leaving train with past memories and expecting a new train to come from the future. A subway; full of life, of people and moving trains in both ways coming and leaving and there you are struggling; as an overwhelming feeling wins over you. You’re dimming from inside as a melting candle. Darkness is getting larger as you strike, revolt and resist against it.

We are just sitting there; remembering what the leaving train took with, what was written on the windows with dust, What secrets were hidden under the seats, ages, moments, sweet &bitter memories, good &ugly faces, joy& sadness and the passengers that got into the train and left once and forever.

The tunnel is getting darker, gloomy, and scary as the darkness arouse within as well. As we struggle upon the darkness, a new train lights its way through the dark tunnel over there, carrying a new life, a new start and an ending for the past story. Again hundreds of questions are asked; where will we be? What events are going to happen? Who will be there? Guessing and drawing images as if we can control the time with its frequent changes.

At that busy subway we are lost between the leaving and coming trains. It is easy to be blown by the force of the leaving train, and left lifeless, meaningless and quiet as the dark.  Dark is easy to settle in with  considering all the fear, misery, troubles, and weakness you can hide there.  You’re invisible. You and the dark are one. While it is hard to keep up with the future train, there is too much light and with the light; comes pain, struggle, responsibility and courage; you can’t hide. In the light it is all clear, you have to fight, you have to rebel and you have to face. In the light you have to suffer in order to survive.

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Lost between the tracks of the dark past, and the future light, and forgetting the present! Forgetting that the leaving train was once the present and to reach the future train we have to live in the present one. Rather than looking right and left; just look in front of you on the present train.

Encourage the light within you, be the light, rage against the dimness, and get busy living in the present train; start creating events, meet people, hide secrets under the seats and draw fresh images on the glass windows. Don’t give up to the darkness; the darkness of the world is enough. Search for the light from within; nourish the dimming candle or reborn from the ashes.  With every struggle appear a new joy; and a new beginning. Take the lead and drive your own train to the future.

Farewell the leaving train and get aboard the present train to reach the future. The future train will never come to you if you sit in the darkness waiting for it!

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When a Mexican Series Becomes Real

Achieving your ambitions, dreams, and having a suitable life in a country like Lebanon is not an easy thing.  You find yourself struggling to overcome the social, economical, and political barriers, all of which integrated in a manner that you stuck in the middle and eventually find yourself escaping to a total different country. Immigration is then the only solution to an ambitious independent person in a search for a suitable fulfilled life.

The immigration phenomenon from Lebanon towards the massive countries of the world is not a new thing. It has always been there as ugly as the truth might be that this country fails in evolving and providing the minimal needs for a suitable life. In the 20th century a large number of youth got in ships and left towards Mexico, El –Salvador, America, Brazil, Australia, and  other countries in chase for a better life.Marcoplatefront

In approximately 1922 a young man, “Hassan Fayad Ismael”, accompanied by his brother “Ahmad”, got in one of the ships leaving behind a wife and three little girls “Fahima, Kamillah, and Mariam”. He left like many others in chase of the unknown.

The three girls never knew their father, they were very young when he left and he was never able to come back.  Time passed and each of the girls grew up and got married and had her own family, by then they knew little about their father through letters brought by a friend of his.

Fahima Ismael always spoke about her father mentioning how he left them when they were very young and how her mom suffered in raising them up. Despite everything she hung a picture of her father, which he had sent with the one of the letters, accompanied with his second wife and fourteen kids in her house. In her turn she had nine kids (4 girls and 5 boys) and their elder is Ibrahim Noureddine.

Ibrahim Noureddine happens to be my grandpa from my mother’s side, and the story of his grandpa whom left to Mexico long ago in the past century, is one that you never get bored with. We were raised with this story and mystery of our great grandpa whom left to Mexico and never came back despite the letters that the family received up until his friend who used to bring it died. Each time our grandpa retell the story, saying that he has fourteen Aunt and Uncle in Mexico, we wondered how they looked like.  It became to an extent that whenever a Mexican Series was aired on Lebanese channels we would joke that one of the actors might be our relative.

It was always a mysterious story, somehow a missing root in the great family’s tree. We grew up and scattered around this world and my grandpa still dreams of getting to know his extended family. Time passed and on new year’s vacation back in 2008, and while my elder brother “Ahmad” was visiting Lebanon from USA, with his family, the story was brought up again and this time my grandpa brought up some papers that showed how the great grandpa’s name was written in Spanish; it showed that the family name was changed from Ismael to Fallad (Fayad in Spanish) , and there the promise was made by Ahmad and his wife Erica that they are going to find the rest of the family.

When in Dallas, TX, Ahmad and Erica started their online search for the extended family members. They came across a name and an address within the same area where they lived, they called the number stated online. Well here luck strikes because they were able to get another number which happens to be to one of the Uncle’s kids, Uncle Miguel, Miguel was actually visiting his son that day and so Ahmad and his family paid them a visit that night and there the first encounter with the extended family was made.

A few was revealed about the great grandpa’s mysterious story, other than the fact that a connection was established again. Ahmad kept on communicating with the cousins, well actually my grandpa’s cousins, but not with the other members whom happen to be in Mexico due to language barriers; they only speak Spanish.

By March 2016, Ahmad decided to visit Mexico, with his family, there the Fallad family was more than happy to finally meet one of their Lebanese relatives. There during two days visit the mystery of our great grandpa was revealed and my grandpa’s dream was somehow becoming real.

The mystery unfolds and here is what Ahmad found out from the family in Mexico. It turns out our great grandpa was 23 years old when he arrived to Mexico. The first stop though for the ship was in another country which might be El Salvador, he didn’t like the country and he went right away to the ship. Then he landed in Mexico in Veracruz, a port city in Mexico, where he stayed for a little while before moving to Torreon; where there is a large Lebanese community.

When he first arrived he didn’t know a word of Spanish, according to his daughter Fatimah and he had suffered a lot. He didn’t even know how to ask for a glass of water. Back in Lebanon he owned a lot of lands in his hometown but in Mexico he had to start from null, at first he sold gum on the street to make a living. After that When he moved to Torreon, he learned from other Lebanese about business and became a trader.

A while later he wanted to move somewhere else where he could start his own business away from the competition. Accompanied with his brother Ahmad, who is known as now as Manuel, they took the train, got off in Nuevo Ideal. Nuevo Ideal the current village where most of his properties are and the one Ahmad visited with his family in search for the missing story.
There he started as a textile merchant selling door to door. That is how he met his second wife who lived on a ranch. Then he opened a store for all kinds of miscellaneous stuff he named it: “Manola Miscellaneous” and he opened a hotel as well.
His store and house where in one large building that consisted of three parts; his house, a large store in the middle, and then his brother’s house. That house is where he lived with his family until the day he died.
The store was opened before he got married, after getting married and being in business for a little while, he built a fortune and bought a very large piece of land with his brother where he started a ranch; the farm had cows, sheep, goats, chicken, and pigs and he planted Apple trees, fig trees, and all other kinds of crops.
He built a house on the ranch/farm and started splitting his time between the ranch and the original house with his eastern mentality girls were not allowed to sleep at the ranch. He preferred life on the ranch and spent most of his time there and every night at 11 pm in Mexico timing the radio in his room would be turned on Arabic news as he listened to the morning newscast according to Lebanon’s timing.

In the municipal office in the city, he is listed as the first outsider to the village to come as a merchant. He was very successful, build a fortune in the town, had a lovely family 14 kids from his wife, plus 3 others from another woman in a nearby town. He was known for his generosity as he donated land to the city where they build a large space that is the center of the village besides a land to build a church. He was loving, caring, and stood up for the poor although he was very strict with his family as he used to pick up his grandchildren from the school and take them straight home. He didn’t eat out or allow his kids to eat out. His father was poisoned (from what they’ve heard) so he didn’t trust to eat anywhere. He taught his wife how to make Lebanese food from Kibbeh, Malfouf, Mjadarra and other dishes. He was a very hard worker, owned many lands that he marked with Palm trees.
Despite everything, despite all his success he never felt that he could fit in. His Spanish was choppy and he couldn’t communicate very clearly. He was very private and didn’t talk a lot.

He kept his Arabian roots by keeping a drawing of a mosque or something like it in his house. A large one from what the family remembers which could be Mecca or al Akssa, and he kept his own Quran. He told his family but being originally Lebanese and most of his kids hold Arabic names which extended to their kids as well.

His family is not sure why he never came back since he was very private, but they said that his last memory of Lebanon is that of his mom standing at the port praying with her hands up when he sailed off; He talked about her a lot!

In 1974, he renewed his Lebanese passport and was going to come back but the Lebanese Civil War took off and he wasn’t able to. After that he got sick; suffered from problems with his throat and esophagus for many years, had multiple surgeries, and at some point the food would go down the wrong pipe. His lungs filled with water from all the issues which caused his death
and when he was on his deathbed he told them that he could see his mother coming to get him.

He died on 18 Feb 1978, with a total of 20 kids (9 boys and 11 girls). He couldn’t be united again with his family in Lebanon; ironically generations had passed until the family was reconnected again due to his grandchild’s grandchild effort and the mystery was solved for both parts of the family in Mexico and Lebanon. He lived a stranger and died a stranger in a strange country, like many others who left and were never able to come back.

storyThis isn’t a story of one man; it’s a story of a nation, a story of separated families, and a common story in every Lebanese house in search for an identity and in chase of a dream….

 

 

It Will Always Be There

Under the full moonlight, upon the sound of the striking waves, he lit a small fire on the shore and burned chapters of his life. Chapters he had written along fifty years. He cut off filthy papers out of the huge book. He wished for a fresh start, he wished for an easier life; without all the burdens of the past. He did a lot of awful things, his hands are dirty with blood, and his life is full of unforgettable mistakes that are hunting him every minute of every day.

He stood silently gazing at the fire eating pages of his life till the very last word, every mistake he did, all the people he caused harm to in the past, things he regrets every day, it is all being burned, it will disappear once and forever….

With the morning sunlight striking his face, he woke up on the shore. Sand covering his clothes, he straightened up, it has been a mad night and today it is a fresh new start, he thought, an empty book free of regrets. He sat there with an innocent smile drawing itself on his wrinkled face as he gazed at the striking waves, when it all came back again. The images of the past are reflected on the water, the sounds coming back to him with the light morning air, he thought the nightmare was over, he thought he erased it from the records.

He sat desperately screaming into the empty space as pain rose into his chest. When a young woman passed by him, jogging at this early hour of the morning, he scared her, she ran faster until he was out of sight. She caught her breath and walked slowly back to her house.

Later that day, she sat alone in her room flipping pages in her journal; from the very beginning till this moment. Tomorrow is her 30th birthday, she decided that from tomorrow everything will be different, she will be getting rid of all her mistakes and all the wrong people in her life will be crossed out.  She flips the pages again, tears some off, and crosses names. When she is done, she placed the journal aside and fall into a deep sleep.

That night she dreamt about all the events she cut off, all the people she crossed out, all the things she wished never existed, it all hunted her dreams. It was imprinted in her and will always be there…

On that same night, a teenage girl was weary with tears, earlier that day she fought with her best friend.  Terrible things were said and she is writing it all down in her journal, hatred words and descriptions.

With the early morning they fixed things between them, she hurries back to her journal and cut off that day’s incident, it will no longer exit. But from that day every silly fight, every kind of joke would bring that incident to the front again. It will always be there hidden in the back till a suitable moment…

With all the craziness going on this world, he closes the curtains and hid himself in the shades. A young man sits there drinking away his misery, he had messed things up this time, he hurt someone deeply and he cannot think of a way to fix the damage he did. He drinks it away in an attempt to forget it, forgetting is the best answer he has gotten so far.

It is over he thinks and goes out to the light, but all he could see is her image in the eyes of the people surrounding him, he hears her voice coming up with every sound, she is present in every way possible. She will always be there and he can’t change that.

Things we do in our life will always be present; our mistakes will always hunt us even after years and years. People we meet will always take a place in our memories. We might ignore all this, learn from it, hide it, and might as well cross it out, but it will always be there hidden for the purpose of coming up again at a certain time.

Things we write in our life can’t be erased completely, a trace of it will always be present somewhere else…

It Will Always Be There

 

 

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