A friend and university colleague passed away on Friday the 13th. It’s not the date I’m talking about here.
A series of all those spectacular people who are suddenly lifted off the cross of life. I envy them.
5 years ago, it started off with a sweet yong woman, barely thirty…
Maya Ghanoum, victim of Cancer and her own sensitivity. A beautiful being that touched the soul of any human being she encountered once. One of those faces you can’t forget. A smart woman who ironically volunteered in writing for a cancer center, who wrote children’s books. One with intellect, taste and above all a haunting kindness. A rare one. Maya’s death was the biggest shock in my life. So that’s how death looks like?
My mother was ill when Maya left this world.
And I could see her disease taking over her bit by bit. The worse that could happen to someone you love, until she could barely breathe. And that’s not what hurts. What kills me is remembering her smile despite the pain, the lack of breath and all the machines that are helping her survive. My mother who never knew what selfishness could be like. And she left before I ever get the chance to thank her. I’ve never seen someone as giving, generous, stoic, funny, humble…you name it. I’ve never seen someone who never , ever complained about anything despite the worse conditions she encountered all through her life, even at her death bed. And she left this world, the same day Maya’s sister was getting married. What a coincidence. Nadja is her name, the name of my future daughter hopefully and that of my coming film. I miss her songs in the morning, and I could swear I could still hear her sing.
Then , 11 days after Mom’s death. Another great person, my boss, my idol.
The man who made me want to go to work when I hated it at the time. The man who never judged or hurt anyone. The man with a contagious smile, with those comforting eyes that make you want to reveal your life to him. The man who managed to look at the bright side of any situation and see the best in any human being, no matter how despicable he/she could be. He knew who tried to hurt him, and when I asked him once why he never reacted he said: “if you face evil with good, who knows…maybe this person will change one day”. But he’s gone, just like that. A fatal heart attack left us no choice. He was, by far, the purest man I met. Wassem is his name. A name to remember.
And then , the lovely lovely Hussam.
This young 32 year old man, bursting with intelligence and talent. This man who at 21 wrote his first book, was about to publish his second. The youngest intellectual I know and the kindest person you can meet. Despite his outstanding intelligence, he had a way to make you feel important. The more he learnt , the more humble he became. And he has the funniest and wittiest sense of humour. Hussam who could suddenly shock you with the most innocent of questions. And then again, as if heavens are thirsty for more , a heart attack took him away. I went back to his emails, and he wrote me once regarding a job he had 2 years ago “I don’t know what the girls think of me here, maybe they think I am an alien or something. I am used to it by now”.
He did feel different at all times. I bumped into him a week before his death and he was so unhappy. He told me he was tired from work with very low pay. We spoke about him, me, but he was too tired. He looked more pessimistic than I ever saw him; he smiled and joked less. His eyes had lost their sparkle. What a loss. Few days before his death, I heard his landlord has thrown away his stuff outside to rent the room for someone who paid more and that he left work and went back to visit his ill mother in Jordan and died there, at the hospital. Could it be that his sensitive heart couldn’t take it anymore?
Yes that is My Lebanon. Lebanon who gave nothing but illness to my egyptian mother. Mom always told me, “What a difficult country Lebanon is for strangers”.
Lebanon who forced Wasseem, the lebanese, to look for chances outside the borders of his land. Because Lebanon wastes its resources on those who don’t deserve it.
Lebanon, who mistreated Hussam. This palestinian jordanian young man. As if being palestinian was not enough. Hussam who told me once in his emails ” I miss the freedom of Beirut”. Yes Hussam, we give you freedom and make you pay with your life. His father refuses to talk to any of his friends from Lebanon saying “Beirut killed my son”. His mother doesn’t know her beautiful son is gone, her MS is advanced and the news might kill her. They told her he’s back to his beloved Beirut for some urgent work.
My Lebanon is not kind to those who deserve it. You know what…I don’t think they care right now. They went to where they’re better treated, loved and appreciated. I believe in the justice system of this universe and may they be resting in peace.
Oh lovely people out there, on the other side of the river. We cherish your memory, your smile and your sacrifices in this cruel cruel world. You taught us that nothing remains from our lives…except the memory of us. And it better be a good one.