Tomorrow Is Going To Be Another Day!

Every night I go to bed saying to myself tomorrow is going to be another day and I will write about how beautiful nature is. How beautiful the trees, the flowers, the birds and everything are around me. Come morning, a few minutes on the internet after I wake up and halfway through my second coffee everything has already changed.

I don’t see the beauty surrounding me anymore, I don’t feel it. My heart fills with all the heartache from all the killings and sufferings in different parts of the world. I see pictures of children decapitated by bombs and shrapnel in Gaza, missiles and rockets falling on them. I read about the parents of abducted girls by Boko Haram being killed by the same rebels that kidnapped their girls and sold them for prostitution in the name of Allah.

While in most parts of the world people are protesting against the bombing of Gaza, the militants are continuing their horrific acts against their own people. These militants are from the people themselves. There’s nothing worse than when your fellow citizen, your friend, your brother, your colleague turns his back on you and sees you as his enemy. Overnight he becomes the oppressor and you the oppressed.

“Nayla stepped out for the first time that morning and looked around her. On the other side of the street a group of three men in khaki uniform stood conversing. One of them, the one with black sunglasses and hands in his pocket, walked towards the two women. She recognized him. He was the one she had given the note to, the one with the wife and two kids. Could they have been driving in circles then? What were the gunmen trying to do? Were they waiting to kill him and afterwards rape and torture her and perhaps leave her on the street to die? What have they done to him? She wanted to ask him about Samer. She opened her mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. She could hear her teeth chatter in her mouth. She was shaking all over. Her feet gave way. The gunman grabbed her by the shoulders to prevent her from falling on the ground, while Kawkab ran inside a house. A glass in her hand, she hurried back.
“Drink this!” she ordered Nayla. “It’s water with some sugar in it. It’s good for you.”
She couldn’t hold the cup in her hands. Kawkab held it for her to drink. She wasn’t trembling anymore. She felt so weak. She couldn’t even feel the glass on her lips. They were so numb. She was so very numb.
Kawkab helped her sit back in the car. Then turning around she screamed at the gunman with black sunglasses, hysterically. “See what you’ve done to her? Why? Why you do this to innocent people always? My son is in this with you. I don’t want him on the streets. I don’t like his being one of you. If only his father were alive, Zaki would never have dropped out of school and joined your gang.” A tear rolled down Kawkab’s cheeks. “This is all so stupid. This is madness. The whole country has gone crazy.” She wiped her eyes with the back of her right hand and in a desperate voice asked the gunman, “Do you like what you do, son? Honestly?”
“Calm down Aunt Kawkab. I only do what they order me to. My wife and I fight all the time. I miss her, I miss the kids. I haven’t seen her or the kids for almost a month now. She tells me she doesn’t like me to be on the streets. Tell you the truth, I don’t like it either. But I don’t feel comfortable anywhere, anymore; neither at home nor on the streets.”
Kawkab took a deep breath. “You know Nayla, when he came and told me about you and your husband I called Zaki. I asked him to talk to his superiors about Samer. You know what his answer was to me? He told me that at times like this there was little, or in some places, no control at all over what the gunmen did. It was a matter of personal loss. There was nothing any superior could do about those gunmen’s motives to kill anyone. It was all a matter of luck. Let’s just pray that Samer will be lucky today,” she looked at Nayla’s ashen face and shook her head.
Nayla could feel the tears that were accumulating behind her already wrinkled eyelids. Would she and Samer be lucky? Nayla thought. Your luck ran out on you the moment you fell into the hands of these gunmen. She remembered having read a scene from Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” about the Spanish civil war. It described a mob killing some men, pushing them over some cliffs. The more frightened these men became, the more the crowd cheered.
At that moment the gunman with the black sunglasses came and took the driver’s seat. He didn’t have a kalashnikov but his pistol hung from his belt. He started the engine. Once again Nayla was in the car with a gunman and a woman she had only met that morning. They were taking her to see her husband. The only familiar thing around her was her husband’s blue Renault in which they were driving. Nayla took a deep breath. If only she’d had a chance to exchange a few words with Samer before they took him. If only he’d looked once, just once, in her direction before he had walked away from her in front of the gunman. A simple “Don’t worry, sweetheart” would have been enough for his part, even though it would have been a mere pretence under the circumstances. But he had just walked away, leaving her alone and frightened. This feeling of fear and loneliness reached deep inside her. She shivered and a small cry escaped her tightly closed lips. Unable to hold the tears that piled up behind her eyelashes, she started to sob, her whole body shaking.” The Lost I .

lost i

ChK

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Nothing Lasts Forever!

Nothing lasts forever!

Fin

I don’t know why it is but lately all the interesting people I meet are in clinics or in the waiting rooms of hospitals. Maybe because those are the only places I visit these days? Or maybe there is something in those rooms that makes people vulnerable enough to start a conversation with total strangers.

Let’s face it, if you walk into a coffee shop and order your coffee and sit alone at a table, chances are you won’t start any kind of small talk with the person sitting at a different table beside you, no matter what. Even when you are placing your order,  chances are you won’t start any kind of small talk with the person at the register because you feel that the person behind you is grumbling with impatience and you just want to hurry with your order. 

Yesterday morning I was in the hospital waiting room reading my book when the person next to me said, “Maxim Gorky is a great writer.” I turned around and this person introduced herself and when I in turn repeated my name she said, “You Armenian people have had your share of pain as Christians, haven’t you now?”

I was kind of surprised because I had never looked at our troubles that way. And I remembered an image I had seen on the internet early that morning, of a few women and children, girls, slaughtered in the bathroom of a house in Mosul. The caption read, “Killed by ISIS or IS, in their hiding place, for being Christians.” 

Has anything really changed since the Armenian Genocide of about 100 years ago? All kinds of atrocities still continue in whatever name they choose to carry them out. If you are caught in their war, and if by some miracle you are spared, then you have all that pain and burden to carry in your heart. It won’t always feel that bad. From time to time your heart might even be warmed by a dim ray of hope. The hope of some kind of change. But then your conscience will kick in and you will ask yourself, “Will something really happen to change all this?”

“As always at such moments the dim hope, the expectation glowed in him of something different, unlike what he saw around him. Sometimes the all-embracing words glimmered in his memory, “It won’t last forever.”” Maxim Gorky

ChK

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We Really Have Failed!

A month ago while the whole world was watching the world cup, atrocities were being committed against humans and against humanity in some parts of the world to such an extent that it was impossible for me as a blogger to just watch and not do anything. I had to write about how miserably ‘We Have Failed’ to get my frustration out.

Exactly one month later, these killings and atrocities have not only continued but rather spread to include new grounds and territories. The loss of innocent lives in Gaza, the shooting down of a Malaysian airline over the Russian and Ukrainian border, killing all the passengers among whom were 100 scientists on their way to an Aids conference in Australia…

Unbelievable! Yes! Have we as humans sunk so low as to do such a thing? The reason those scientists were on that plane was because they were going to do something good. Can anything bad come out of scientists meeting to help Aids victims? Why that plane?

As a person who has first hand experience with civil war, I worry when politicians come together to solve a crisis. Because then I know that no matter what decision they take, someone has to pay, someone has to suffer. But scientists? What’s wrong with us? Once again, I say:

In a century so advanced both technologically and scientifically, we have failed as humans. We have failed because we are allowing innocent people to be tortured and killed in the hands of militias and gunmen in the name of religion. We have failed because we are watching women and young girls being gang raped in Tahrir Square in Egypt, on buses and in fields in India. We have failed because we are allowing these same terrorists to kidnap teenage girls, students, and sell them in the name of Allah or God! We have failed because innocent children and women and men are being slaughtered in the name of democracy in Syria and in Iraq.

And now Gaza? Where innocent children are being blown up by bombs while playing on the beach or in their own backyards. And the plane? But to whose benefit? What’s next? Or rather, who’s next?

We constantly worry about the economy and about the environment while these atrocities against innocent civilians continue around the world. Perhaps I am mistaken to think that we just sit empty handed and try to find someone to blame or wait for someone to take responsibility.

But what good is the environment, the economy, science or technology anymore. I get shivers when I think of the kind of example we are setting for our children and grandchildren. If we the people can’t stop all this then maybe we should seek refuge on a new planet and leave all this madness behind.

Keyhole-1

ChK

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Lack Of Complaint

Today is the 16th of July. On the 16th of every month I become nervous and jittery. I try not to. But unconsciously, unknowingly, every month around this time I can’t stand myself. I try to busy myself with work. I try to read. I try my best to fight my urge to write about my feelings, my thoughts. But I can’t. It’s hard to ignore my thoughts while my heart tells me the opposite. Leo Tolstoy wrote: 

“The strongest of all warriors are these two – time and patience.” 

Time and patience. They say time heals all wounds. I don’t think it does. It does not bring back loved ones, nor does it lessen the pain. With every passing day the pain gets bigger and the realization sinks in deeper. The realization of a lonely future ahead, a future without your loved one beside you to make it easier. And what is patience?

Patience – endurance, tolerance, fortitude, serenity, staying power, lack of complaint, persistence.

Of all the above definitions, I choose “lack of complaint”. At some point you stop complaining. Because you realize that there is no point in doing so. What’s the use, you ask yourself. Life goes on whether you like it or not, whether you are ready or not. Nothing changes except you are a day older than yesterday and perhaps happier or sadder or poorer or richer or lonelier. 

“Why do we call all our generous ideas illusions, and the mean ones truths?” Edith Wharton

Because by asking all these questions, by putting down on paper all these thoughts I can shake off everything. Believe it or not I can recall everything when I write.

Pen

It’s like being on a journey to find my inner self. After I finish writing my sorrows disappear, and my courage is reborn. Then my mind dwells on new thoughts and new ideals and new fantasies. Because as Simone de Beauvoir wrote:

“Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.” 

ChK

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In A Perfect World

In the book I am currently reading about dreams there is this question:
“In a perfect world what would you like to be?”

I close the book and think… If the world is perfect, then does it really matter what you dream? I think the biggest dream itself is wishing for a perfect world.

I close my eyes and think… How many times did our dreams change? How many times we were forced to take detours and abandon our dreams? Something we wouldn’t have to do in a perfect world.

I am so upset by what’s happening in some parts of the world now. Especially in the Middle East. The fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. How many more innocent civilians have to die for the world to interfere to stop this madness? And what about Baghdad and Nigeria and Syria, to name just a few.

There was a time not that very long ago when we were living in Beirut during the civil war. We were living in West Beirut at a time when Beirut was divided into East and West. The two sectors fought each other for reasons that until now are unclear to me. The two sides would bomb each other and bombs would fall on us randomly. I used to be so scared and jittery that I used to hear the bombs the moment they were being sent and I used to tell my husband that “they’re coming” and a few minutes later they would explode near us.

Death and destruction were everywhere. And our main concern was survival. Many were the times when I wished I was born in a different part of the world. Many were the times when I wished my parents and grandparents hadn’t been displaced. While my friends dreamt of their future I dreamt of a home, not a house where I can live, but a home, a place where I could belong to.

And decades later when I finally achieved that dream, I lost so much that it doesn’t have the same meaning for me anymore. I keep asking was it worth the sacrifice? Because I don’t think I belong only to this place, Canada. My heart still aches by what’s happening in the Middle East. At night when I close my eyes I dream about that small village where I grew up and where my mom and brother and extended family live. I dream about my grandparent’s homes which I have never seen. About their childhood and how hard it must have been for my grandparents to leave their homes and become refugees in a foreign land. I dream about Dubai where my children were born and where it became possible for me to have other dreams. So who am I? Where do I belong?

maze

Because it’s easy to kill people, destroy their homes, wipe out entire cities. But to use William Saroyan’s words:

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again.”

ChK

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Making Life More Bearable

The other day I was reading a book about how to unblock your creative self. One of the tasks in the book was about collecting images of things or people or places you like or dream about and then making a collage of them.
 
I remembered that I had a folder full of such images that I had collected but it seems like such a long time ago. My images were of writers and the rooms they wrote in. I had collected them not because someone had told me to do so. No. But because I loved books and writing and writers and dreamt one day of writing my own book. And I had tried to gather whatever images of writers I could lay my hands on just for inspiration.

The ones I had collected while still in school and university, I don’t know what happened to, nor do I know where they are or could be. See, back then when I was still in high school in Lebanon, the civil war started and everything changed, including my choices. My priority stopped being about my dreams or what I loved to do. It became more of what was the best and easiest thing to do given the situation I was in. I studied what I thought at the time would guarantee me a job no matter what my circumstances were. I studied mathematics to earn a living. I never even looked at other options. I chose the easy way out, thus silencing my dream. 

Go

Years went by and I got married and we moved to Dubai to escape the dire situation in Lebanon. I kept on teaching.
 
Kurt Vonnegut wrote: 

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” 

I kept pretending although I wasn’t happy. But Dubai was this beautiful cosmopolitan place, a city where the East and the West came together to create this unique blend of cultures, and I started to dream again. I started a new collage of images, again of writers, from the different newspapers that I collected, both in English and Arabic. I still have that folder. But what’s more important is that I wrote. 

Kurt Vonnegut wrote:

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” 
ChK

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Sorry You Don’t Understand!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

I know I have blogged about this issue with LinkedIn before. And I apologize in advance for bringing it up once more. Being frustrated and angry about the problem and knowing very well that the solution is not in my hands I can’t do anything at the moment except write about it.

My problem is with one of my published posts. On June 19, I published ‘We Have Failed’ on LinkedIn. Within the first half hour I noticed that there were 30 comments from readers on this particular post. When I tried to read them however there were some technical problems and I couldn’t. I tried using different browsers but the problem persisted.

So I did what we all do at times like this, I asked for professional help. I contacted the LinkedIn help center and discussed my problem with a Customer Experience Advocate. After much give and take, which I blogged about in my article ‘Shall I Publish On LinkedIn’ on the 27th of June, I am sorry to say that my problem still exists. What’s worse I feel like:

“I had done all that I could, and no Man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.” Samuel Johnson

Yes I feel neglected on top of being frustrated. The one thing I have difficulty understanding is how a minor technical problem on a professional network like LinkedIn cannot be solved! I use different platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, WordPress, and technical problems do occur but are solved so very quickly. But with LinkedIn:

“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.” Søren Kierkegaard

It is so sad when I can see that 30 people have taken the time to read and comment on my article and I am not able to read those comments and not able to thank them. And for how long???? I despair when I think that I will never find out and the problem will not be resolved. Since all I got from the Advocate a week ago on the 29th of June is:

“I can understand your frustration. I have forwarded your ticket to the respective team to follow up on the issue.”

At this point all I can say to her is, “Sorry but I don’t think you understand my frustration. You don’t understand how heartbreaking it is for a writer to not be able to connect with readers.”

Tools

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes:

“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.” 

ChK

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