Mother’s day, May 8th 2011, Montreal. I am having coffee with my daughter. It is a beautiful day outside, sunny and warm. At last after what seemed like an endless cold and wet winter, we are able to go out without our winter coats but not without our sweaters, not just yet. I look at my daughter, sitting across the table, chatting about what she wants to do, what she likes to do. She is almost ready to join the workforce. I say almost because she is torn between the two worlds, the real world and University, where she likes to stay forever. I look at her lovely face so innocent, so naïve, so full of life and I can hope and wish that life is not so cruel to her. I cannot help but think back and see myself at that time in my life. When I think about it now, it wasn’t the best of times and yet it wasn’t the worst of times either. Ernest Hemingway wrote:
“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
At the time of my graduation, the civil war had spread throughout the country, Lebanon and there wasn’t any corner left that was not involved somehow. The situation in the capital Beirut was worse. The city was divided into East and West. When the fighting escalated between the warring factors, the militias, the crossing between the two parts was closed to civilians. The American University of Beirut where I studied was in the West. During my last semester, my friend who stayed in the same dorm with me lost both her parents one day, on the day they dropped her off at the dorm. On their way back home in the East a sniper killed them both. She was an only child, she collapsed and I did not see her again. I did not have a graduation ceremony, I had to pick my degree from the department of Mathematics, and even that I could not do. By that time I was back in the village staying with my parents, a comparatively safer place, and traveling to Beirut on the assigned date was impossible. I picked it up later from the registrar’s office. Little did I know at the time that this was just the beginning.
“I love Canada! I know it’s hard for you guys, you sacrificed your jobs and everything, but thank you for bringing us here.”
I look at my daughter beaming with happiness and optimism. Even though we are not standing on our feet yet, we are just crawling, I sigh thinking her days would be more beautiful and joyous than mine and I answer.
“It was worth the try. I love you and I love Canada too!”
And I remember reading Jean Paul Sartre;
“But for me there is neither Monday nor Sunday: there are days which pass in disorder, and then, sudden lightning like this one. Nothing has changed and yet everything is different. I can’t describe it, it’s like the Nausea and yet it’s just the opposite: at last an adventure happens to me and when I question myself I see that it happens that I am myself and that I am here; I am the one who splits in the night, I am as happy as the hero of a novel.”