My Beirut is a battlefield, a permanent fight of honking cars and suicidal pedestrians, lost in the hustle bustle of the city. My Beirut is an inextricable web of fantasies and myths and weird ideas, of apparent dangers and hidden kindness.
My Beirut has been diabolised and insulted and torn apart and trampled, yet it kept going, blackened and bruised yet never defeated.
My Beirut is the beating heart of a million people, all linked to her from a certain place under their left ribs, the cord so strong it can be frayed but never broken.
My Beirut is the colourful place of half hidden memories, she’s alive and kicking like a spoilt child, she’s restless and bothered, hot and impatient, quick witted and forceful.
My Beirut is capable of the worst, parading its bullet holes like a sequin dress, carrying the bravado of fools looking for death amidst the chaos, leaving her legs open for murderers to loot her, allowing herself to sink so low the innoncence can never be retrieved, for we all know now the squalor beneath the glitter.
My Beirut is trying to make amends, wearing her new buildings like a dead corpse special make up, forgetting that it doesn’t do to cover up pain, anger and misery with marble slate and mock Dubai sky scrappers. My Beirut is no good at wearing truth on her sleeve, she’s no good at admitting to anything, she prefers to hide behind distorted explanations and constant bickering, it saves her the trouble of looking into the abyss that has been her life up till now.
My Beirut is to be found now in the smile of a stranger, in the crumbling beauty of an abandoned house in a zaroube in Ashrafieh, in a table of different generations of men playing cards on the sidewalk in front of their dekken, their game rocked by the humming of traffic next to them.
My Beirut can be encountered in the smell of gardenia at the entrance of my old building, at the soft sand in Ramleh el Bayda, in the laughter of uniformed school girls, in the clamour of demonstrations, in the voices of citizens fed up with the icing on the rotten cake, eager to shake the city back to genuine life.
My Beirut is in the eyes of boys and girls who still believe in her magic, however much people try to format and label her, she will always reinvent herself, escaping the bell jars she’s being forced into.
My Beirut is a work in progress, a future to be unraveled, a window to be scrubbed clean. My Beirut isn’t one: it is thousands, and in each of them I see a little bit of myself.