Yesterday was a bad day for Egypt. A bad day for Lebanon, a bad day for the entire region, the Middle East. In Egypt a state of emergency has been declared, with all the killings and burnings of churches. In Lebanon a car bomb exploded in a residential Shiite area killing innocent people.
And yesterday I noticed my friend’s status on Facebook saying that one boy who died in the car bomb explosion in Beirut was her student, and he was only 17. He had gone into a shop to buy something when the bomb went off. And an ex-student of mine from Egypt was saying she needed a lift ASAP to Cairo. My heart stopped beating for a moment.
Old incidents kept creeping into my mind. And I kept asking why. Why? Why? Why in God’s name do innocent people have to die? We are living in the 21st century, scientifically, medically, technologically the most advanced. Why can’t we human beings resolve our conflicts in a more civilized manner. What’s wrong with us? What is happening to us?
Some of you might be familiar with my story. I was born in Lebanon to refugee Armenian parents. I spent my childhood and youth there in that politically troubled country. To top it all I grew up listening to my grandparents’ horror stories of displacements. How they had to fight the Turks and how they were helped by the French and taken in boats with nothing but the clothes they had on to the safer shores of Lebanon. A place where they didn’t even speak the language.
I remember the songs the adults sang at family gatherings and over dinner. The ‘fedayi’ songs which I later learned to sing also. The songs which spoke of the courage and heroism of our martyrs against our oppressors. The songs of the past, their past.
Later on, when I was much older and living in the dorms in university, my Arab friends also had their special songs to sing. After every gathering or party, small ones in our rooms since there was trouble outside (civil war), and after all was said and done, my friends switched to their folkloric songs. The one that got me most was the ‘dal3ouna’. Every time someone started to sing that song, I used to get overwhelmed with such emotion and find it difficult not to tear up.
While our ‘fedayi’ songs spoke of heroism and courage, theirs spoke of heartache and longing and human pain. Of a son going away without having the chance to say goodbye to his mother, of heartaches and difficulties one faced living alone away from his loved ones, in order to support his family. And most of the time, they sang about separation and loss and agony and pain.
I wonder what happened to most of them, to my friends. I wonder where they are, if they are alive, or if they are anywhere safe or not. I wonder if they lost loved ones in yesterday’s bombings. As I wonder what will happen next in that region. The place where I have the best memories, the place where my loved ones and friends still live, the place which I sometimes become so nostalgic about that it hurts.
I pray for the safety of all the innocent people who are caught up in that craze and my heart goes out to all those who lost someone yesterday. I pray for peace and understanding. I pray for some miracle to stop the madness.