This is Beirut

This is Beirut is designed to give voice to the millions of Lebanese who are suffering while the world sits silently. We are not interested in propagating hatred. We want the world to witness through the eyes of Lebanese citizens the destruction and the suffering that has been brought on in the name of defense. If you have a story, poem or letter to share, please email We will work together to end this violence.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

War diaries, day 21

Dear World

August 1st, 21st day of war.

It has been three weeks already. The first day the war exploded, I could not believe I was going through it once again. And here I am, day after day, getting used to the repetition of images, sounds, news, words, actions, politicians' visits, routines. A few days ago, I asked my mother how she and my father were able to survive 17 years of war, and she said: "day after day".

Fuel is running out. Everyday, as I pass near gas stations, long queues of cars are waiting. I decided to stop driving. I left my car in the parking and realized, for the first time since I started driving, that I had feet. A tremendous creation, feet! They can take you anywhere you want. It might take a while, but walking through the city is the best thing I did these two days. For the past three weeks, I did not realize how much tension I had been accumulating and yesterday, 1 hour of walking from Gemmayzeh to Msaytbeh took it all.

The city was empty. For the first time since the assassination of Rafic Hariri, Beirut was empty. Once in a while, a car passed by but otherwise, all I could feel was the breeze (impregnated with remains of bombs chemicals that provided me with a constant feeling of dizziness) against my face and arms.

Silent Beirut. Some people are calling it "city of ghosts". I didn't see any ghosts. I saw nothing but few buildings, trees, sidewalks, closed shops, some men playing backgammon, a man listening to the news on the radio, a man talking on the phone and saying "No! The war is in the South!" and remains of concerts and plays posters, all cancelled or postponed, suspended. Beirut is not a city of ghosts, it is simply a city without people. And it is okay. Emptiness never hurt anyone.

The Israeli government gave us two days of break from bombing. A big joke, as usual. They pursued bombing the south, not as massively but still. These two days gave the Red Cross and Civil Defense members the time to find even more people buried for days in the bombed rural areas, to reach areas that were unreachable for 20 days and dig up more and more dead bodies. Two days of digging, before they come back and bury us again. The number climbed up to over 830 victims. 3200 wounded.

Qana's children were not 37, but 42, so far.

I heard rumors that today they will be using the 'smart bombs'. What is a smart bomb?

A smart bomb is a bomb invented by an idiot. Why? Because, if he was smart enough, his need for a bomb to 'defend himself' would not even be there. But still, they call it smart because it can cause big damage in little time, or some technical war-language nonsense like that. Well, in case they use them on the southern suburbs tonight, I guess the ceiling will be falling over our heads. But hey, let us not panic. I am sure they will apologize afterwards.

Politicians are still negotiating, Blair and Bush are still refusing the cease-fire. I cordially invite them to come and stay in one of the suburbs' remaining buildings, I am sure they will immediately ask for this to stop. Nobody who is truly experiencing this would want it to last. People are still dying. Dead people are still being found. Refugees are still living by groups of hundreds in schools. Life is going on, we are adapting to it.

Outside, our generator is still on. My father purchased it in 1989, during the civil war, and we kept it, just in case. And there we are using it again, and we are lucky because the generators' prices climbed from 250$ to 1400$ in the market.

Outside, our generator is still roaring. And this roaring brings me back to 1989, to the sounds of gunshots and broken glass, the smell of cologne water and the taste of Zwan luncheon meat and Bacon Cheese, the sight of darkness. I learned to love the roaring, because it brings some light to my late nights and allows me to write and get out of my system all the mumbles happening in my head. I bless the roaring because, above all its benefits, it covers up the sounds of Israeli planes roaming above our city, suffocating us with their threatening sounds.

I am off to bed. I will try to find some symphony in the soft sounds coming to us from the heavenly sky. Who knows? I might even record them and use them as lullabies for my children to come. War-time drill never hurt anyone.

Good Night!

A Lebanese Citizen


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