Thursday, January 25, 2007

Escaping Beirut

What was a dull afternoon at work yesterday transformed into an escape from Beirut. I got a call from my boyfriend, saying there was a shootout at the Beirut Arab University and that I should leave Beirut immediately. A few minutes later, the parking guy decided of his own accord to give us all our car keys and advise as to the best route out of Hamra... and all I could think of is how a place of learning, of higher education had succumbed to violence and terror at the hands of the future generation of Lebanon's great citizens...

Phone lines were down, and I was worried since a friend came with me in the morning, and we must now leave together... luckily we crossed each other on the road... As we started to leave, I saw a scary sight, a replay of Tuesday's events, as exits leading to the airport were blocked by burning tires, and young men wearing black masks and holding wooden sticks were standing nearby...

This defies logic, defies morality... Everyone was headed home: for some it meant going to Hamra, for me it meant going to Cornet Chehwan: two opposite directions, but each holding someone dear at the end...

Outside Beirut, the phone lines resumed, and calls from my mother and other concerned people started flooding in... I told them I was on my way home... home... I could not believe what was happening. I really hoped we would never live to see the kind of "war"like situation that the elders are constantly talking about; how they reminisce on their close calls with death, and escaping the "enemy", their fellow citizens...

When I got home, put on the TV, and saw the scene, my heart quenched its tears that threatened to overflow. I started thinking of the students who were not part of the confrontation as well as those who were... A student like so many of my friends, who were overwhelmed with their finals because the semester is nearly over; who were worried because they had exams to prepare for, and papers to give in... They were supposed to be busy with other things... For many, university offers the opportunity for a better life... It is a place of learning, of understanding, of furthering one's self. Yesterday this place was desecrated, transformed into a funeral, mourning the death of common sense... And now, so many of my friends now wish to leave, because they are afraid... they are applying for visas, renewing their passports... and looking abroad for opportunities that should be available to them in their own country.

Is this how we love our country? With snipers on the rooftops terrorizing innocent passer-byes? Is this how we cherish our nation? By aiming at the army? Is this how we celebrate our national unity? By being segregated according to our religion? Is this the future we want for ourselves and our loved ones? A constant escapade?

2 Comments:

At Saturday, January 27, 2007 , Blogger Margaret said...

I lived through what the elders talk about and it was awful. I really don't want to happen again. Please be safe and let us know how you are doing when you can.
I try to be an optimist and believe that one day we humans will find a better way to solve our problems. You have a gift, you write well. I encourage you to keep on writing because it will help in our ultimate task to create peace.

 
At Tuesday, February 06, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jumana,

I am a lebanese student doing research on blogging. I was wondering whether you could provide me with your email address: I am in the process of preparing a questionaire (anonymous, so don't worry!) and I would really appreciate it if you could fill one in for me. My email address is co601ns@gold.ac.uk

Hoping to hear from you soon.

 

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