I Don’t Remember Anyone Winning Anywhere Any Time

It is with a sad heart that I read about what is happening in the other part of the world, particularly the Middle East. They say history repeats itself. What is happening in Syria now for whatever reason reminds me of yet another war not long ago. It seems to me that the people are going through pretty much the same things that we went through just decades ago during the Lebanese civil war.

I personally do not believe in wars no matter what their cause. We are human beings and as such we have the ability to reason and communicate with each other. I strongly believe that all conflicts could be resolved with dialogue. As I strongly believe that no one wins in a war. No.

“No,” said the old man, deep under. “I don’t remember anyone winning anywhere any time. War’s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good but the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself.” Ray Bradbury

All I remember from my days of living the civil war is a lot of losing and a lot of sadness. You live in fear of losing your job, your home, your friends, your loved ones and your life day in day out. Survival becomes your priority and if you are lucky and find a way to escape somewhere relatively safe, you’ll always have this feeling of emptiness inside of you, wondering what happened to your home, to the people near and dear to you that you left behind. In the words of James Baldwin 

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.” 

And then during the rest of your life you strive to build a home for yourself in a new city, in a new country. You adapt new habits of living and try to blend in with new cultures. You do all it takes simply to belong. Only to realize in the end that perhaps:

“Home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” James Baldwin 

I still remember the day I fled Beirut in search of safety and a better life for myself. Has my life been better? It has been comfortable, yes, but better I am not so sure. And the feeling, oh the feeling never leaves you.

Breathless, she watched her husband. A mass of hopeless desperation covered his face. This is what they did at checkpoints, she thought, make you speak until you say the wrong thing and that can be the end for you. Guilty if you spoke; guilty if you remained silent. If only Samer kept his nerve a little longer.
“I have a friend, a family friend who will take us there. His name is Elie,” he almost whispered.
The soldier looked from one to the other and without uttering a word he started examining their passports. After a few minutes, he pointed with his right index finger at their bags and ordered them to be emptied. Nayla could feel her heart pounding in her chest. They opened their bags and emptied the contents on the ground, even her handbag. They spread everything on the bare ground under their feet so the soldier could go through every item. He bent over and examined every single bit, searching carefully and in such detail that even her lipstick was opened. When he stood up, he gave their passports back to Samer and motioned with his head to move along. Nayla stood there stupefied, until Samer touched her hand and they started filling in their bags with their belongings that were spread on the ground. Her handbag didn’t close. He pushed her slightly so they could move ahead and they walked, not looking back until they reached the other side where cars and cabs were waiting for people like them. Samer spoke with one of the drivers while she stood there and looked back. She had left her friends there in the West; her closest friend, with whom she had shared the worst moments of her life. She had left without even saying goodbye to Hayat or Maha, without kissing the little boy, without even seeing her friend’s baby girl, without even knowing whether she would live or die. They had to hurry; that’s what Samer had said; that’s what Elie and Kamal had said. This was her country, the place where she belonged, the place where they belonged. She was going to a place she had never seen before. Would there be a place where she would belong, the way she had belonged to her country, she wondered. Trying hard to hold the tears that were choking her, she took Samer’s hand, sat in the back of the car with him and they drove ahead.
(The Lost I)

lost i


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3 Responses to I Don’t Remember Anyone Winning Anywhere Any Time

  1. Sara Migally says:

    I loved that book. You are so true about the emotions one holds while witnessing his home country being torn to pieces…by its own natives. Emptiness. Sums it all up.

  2. There are no winners in a war, only losers. People lose their families and their friends on both sides of the battle. The landscape is lost in rubble. The feelings of safety and freedom are lost. I must read your book. Off to check out the link… 🙂

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