Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Once upon a war...

I was only six years old when Israel invaded Beirut, and from that terrible time, I kept only one memory: My brother and I are playing on the balcony when thousands of colourful confetti rained down on us. We picked them up and they were flyers with writing on them. A carnival! There's going to be a carnival in Beirut soon! It was all so exciting. We started collecting the flyers and making paper planes and throwing them down the street. Every thing was full of colour. I remember it being so beautiful. The memory vanishes after that...

Years later, the family is having a reminiscing moment about the war, and I mention the confetti, wondering if we ever went to that carnival. My brother looks at me incredulously, "What carnival? These were flyers thrown by Israel warning of the threat of the PLO and explaining that we, the Lebanese, are not the target of their invasion". I was speechless... The six-year-old me must have tried to protect herself by conjuring this pleasant memory from what could have been awfully frightening. Of course the invasion ended up costing over 20,000 civilian lives, with 40,000 wounded. Because that's how "targeted" Israel's wars have always been.

I share this today because it's been on my mind for a while, the ability of a child to protect herself by erasing scary memories. And it keeps taking me to the children of Gaza and Syria, and all the horrors they are seeing. How powerful does their defense mechanism have to be to reinvent a bearable memory from all this? How will they ever be able to unsee images that the strongest of us shudders at in one glance? These aren't flyers falling from the sky, after which you can pack up and leave. These are phone calls and text messages informing you that your life as you know it is over, with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and no means to forget. This stays with you, and your childhood is lost, forever.

It has to stop... It must stop.

3 comments:

rafik m said...

moving text

rafik m said...


thank you lama

Haitham Al-Sheeshany said...

Reading this now just feels sad & moving n the same time!

* I hope u come back to blogging