The world is a sad place now.
It’s a sad week in Paris, France and in Beirut, Lebanon. Especially after what happened in Paris and in Beirut this week. So many innocent lives lost, so many others injured. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families, to all those who lost their lives or their loved ones. And the memories, oh the memories.
Ironically enough last month I started rereading Simone de Beauvoir again. I started with her letters to Nelson Algren.
“It’s so beautiful just now in Paris that it is impossible not to feel happy and to hope.” She starts the letter of the 7th October 1947.
This week I am rereading another one of her books, The Mandarins. I have this habit of writing my initials, the date, and the city where I bought the book in the top right corner of the first page of all my books. This one reads 25-August-1986 Venice.
August 1986, I had traveled with my late husband to Rome and then Venice and from there we were flying to Paris before returning to Dubai.
I remember the bookstore where I bought the book from. This tiny little place in some tiny street corner where we used to walk every morning to go to St. Mark square. There was always a line-up of young people outside, the equivalent of perhaps the line-up of Starbucks nowadays. It was a bookstore that sold English books.
At the time, The Mandarins was the only book I was missing in my library from Simone de Beauvoir’s books. I had bought and read the rest while I was a student at the American University of Beirut from Librarie du Liban across the street from the university.
We were both so excited about this trip. It wasn’t our first trip. In fact we had spent Christmas in Hong Kong and China. But it was the first in the sense that it was sort of a pilgrimage for both of us. For me I would finally visit the city where my favorite author Simone De Beauvoir lived. I would visit Café the Flore, sit at the desk where she sat and wrote. I would walk to Sorbonne and wander on St. Germain and Montparnasse. Stroll along the Seine and climb the stairs of Notre Dame.
As for my late husband, Paris meant he would visit the Louvre and Montmartre, he would see the impressionists’ exhibition and most of all he would see Picasso.
I don’t remember how we went to the Picasso National Museum that day, whether we took the metro or a cab. But I remember we were early. The museum hadn’t opened yet and we waited with a few others outside. I could feel my husband’s restlessness. Until then the only paintings of Picasso he had seen were from the many books about art and artists he had collected since his early teen years.
Just when the doors opened and they let us in he said to me, “Can you please keep an eye on me inside and see that I don’t get too feverish or become too hot or something?”
We went in there and I had to watch not only the paintings but my husband too. That’s how much he loved Picasso. Being an art lover and an artist himself, I still remember the way he watched those paintings, the way he was so caught up in them. It was all so fascinating to watch him.
Those are sweet memories. Memories give me hope and make me strong. My life is so full of so much love and beautiful memories. Because of him my life is so meaningful today.
Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of his death and I am still unable to come to terms with his loss. Not even after three years and not ever. Rest in peace my darling.