Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Last Tuesday , at 6:00 pm , I was sitting in a café in Verdun in West Beirut. Taxis, trying to pick up wealthy Arab tourists staying in the nearby hotel, were causing traffic jams. Kinda , my two year old angel , was having a great time coming up and down the escalator in the mall where the hotel and café are.

I was having a great time too. My best friend when I was 12 , Najwa , was visiting Lebanon after 26 years. Najwa’s father was the Moroccan ambassador to Beirut till 1980. I couldn’t believe we were meeting again. Her father was placed in several countries before they returned to Rabat. In 1981, my family and I left Beirut right before the 1982 Israeli invasion, and Najwa and I lost contact.

We sit in a café in Verdun , we both have tears in our eyes. We remember the old days, we tell the stories of the past 26 years , we laugh ,we cry, she tells me she’s surprised how much Beirut had changed .

Later in the evening , I picked her up and we went shopping , then we had some sushi and we agreed that the next morning we’ll take her seven year old boy and my Kinda to the beach.

Today is Tuesday. I’m in the office, watching villages being destroyed , burnt bodies, and trying to call the members of my family who are scattered all over the country seeking refuge in areas they think might be safer than others. This morning, I tried to get some cheese and tomatoes for breakfast for a friend who’s staying over after his house in the southern suburb was destroyed. I got the cheese , but the grocery shop has no vegetables. Beirut is under siege, Beirut will have nothing to eat or drink soon.

A colleague calls me from the nearby Sanayeh public garden , where people who fled the suburb are staying. “if you know of people who want to donate money , tell them to buy milk , diapers, bread and food and bring it over here”. I can find people who have money, but where would I get the bread from?

Last Tuesday seems so far away. Najwa managed to reach Rabat “at her own risk”. We still had so much to tell to each other. We might be able to do it soon. But one thing is certain : if she comes back soon, I won’t be able to take her to my village in the Bekaa, nor to the beach in Tyre. And Beirut will probably look the way it was some 26 years ago.



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