How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head on ILoubnan, Illustrations by Maya Zankoul

Link: How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head on ILoubnan, Illustrations by Maya Zankoul

Meet me and Maya Zankoul every Friday for your healthy dose of revolutionary stories!

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Some News…

As of September 1st, I will be living in… Beirut, Lebanon!

I have many ongoing projects there, so please join me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paola-Salwan-Lebanese-Author/194530360576882 (or at the bottom of the blog) for updates on: 

– The short movie I wrote the short story-turned-script for! I’m incredibly lucky to have been working on this with amazing photographer Lara Zankoul, https://www.facebook.com/larazankoulphotography, who is our art director on this project, and director Naim Clement Jeanbart. 

– My upcoming novel, many sneak peeks of you can find on this blog and on the FB page

– The Revolutionary Series, which will be featured very soon on the Lebanese website www.iloubnan.info with a very very special surprise for readers, 

and much, much more! Hope to see you on Facebook, and why not, in Lebanon soon! 

How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (or P-Diddying His)

Chapter #10: On the Revolutionary’s murky past

The revolutionary would love to believe that he was born with a copy of Das Kapital in the right hand and a copy of the Bible (aka the Permanent Revolution) in the left (what else?) one. Given the present situation of the revolutionary, as in, him living and breathing and talking the Revolution, you would tend to believe it too.

Muhahahaha.

You just could not be more wrong. Being the thorough writer that I am (another myth, perhaps?), I did my very own little research and found out that some God-awful, truly counterrevolutionary actions lie in the realms of the revolutionary murky past. But I’m no one to kiss and tell now am I? Ooooooh right okay, then maybe I am. If he asks, you did not get this from me. I’d probably quite literally never ever hear the end of it. “How could you?!!!! I mean, this has ruined my Rev Cred for life! And by the way, you’re just misinformed, this did not happen this way, nothing is black and white and you can explain my actions through the power struggles over the means of production blah blah blah”.

Brother, you won’t ideologise yourself out of that one.

The revolutionary hasn’t always been a real one. Not if you count working for a bank as an utmost counter revolutionary act anyway. Now the revolutionary will most likely tell you he worked – oh ever so briefly- in a bank to study the evil capitalist system up close. See, to counter the awful oppressive system, you need to know it inside out, he’ll argue. Elaborate your strategy based on a thorough study of your enemy and all that. That what he’ll tell you anyway. Clearly explained as it may, you still have some strong doubts regarding the credibility of these assertions. You’re much more leaning towards a much simpler, much straightforward interpretation: He did it (Oh Forgive him, Comrade Trotsky, for he knew not what he did) for the money and the women. Which he’ll deny, naturally. Don’t be fooled, you’ll have the pictures to prove it anyway.

Wanna be banker is not the only suspicious label that revolutionary sported. Once upon a time, the Rev thought he was P-Diddy (or Puff Daddy, as he was called back in the days), the same way he now thinks he’s Comrade Trotsky. He used to sing along to “I need a girl”, dress in bizarre outfits (baggy sweat pants tucked – er, why?- in a sock, yes, just one, for asymmetry or something), make all sorts of weird hip gestures with his hands and refer to women using interesting slang words that my feminist conscience forbids me to use, overally thinking he was IT. Money and bling do occupy the Revolutionary’s past, much to his desolation and despair, and no matter how passionately he will try and make you think all these things never happened, that he’s a feminist and a humanist, do not believe him. Yes people, the Rev used to be a lost cause, but one day, his path crossed Comrade Said’s, and he was Born Again.

So what happened there? How does one turn from banker/lover to Revolutionary? Was the revolutionary struck by Trotsky lightning one night, making him realise J-Lo and P-Diddy bling was utterly oppressive to the people and he had to lose the gold jewellery, spiky hair and pseudo East Coast codes and replace them with the Bible and a Kuffiyeh? We might never know, but we can always thank Comrade Trotsky for making the revolutionary stop thinking he can rap, thus liberating the people from awful sound pollution. Now he just sings l’Internationale, all signs of complicated hands gestures vanished, his fist pointed to the sky, the sickle and hammer shining in his feverish eyes.

You honestly don’t know what you prefer.

On How I Love my Country (But would not mind changing a thing or two)

… Like

  • How nobody treats you like an accomplished adult woman, no matter what you have achieved, until you’re married and have had your picture published in Prestige. Or Mondanités. Or any of these stupid magazines that scare the hell out of me whenever I’m a at the hairdressers’ in Beirut. Too much Botox kills the Botox (and frankly, is an eyesore)
  • How all women’s attempts at assertiveness are dismissed either by puzzled looks, patronising behaviours or even anger
  • How everyone force feeds you. People, I know you mean nothing but the best, but I’m a grown 26 year old woman who has never been known to starve herself. Take it from me, if I don’t want to eat, you asking me 12000 times is not going to change my mind. At most, it might make me want to push your head in the mjaddara.
  • How you can’t have a moment to yourself without 200 people asking what’s wrong with you. Nothing’s wrong with me except your constant badgering.
  • How EVERYONE meddles in your business, which goes hand in hand with live news updates on what you’re doing and where. Screw Facebook Places, the app’s nothing in front of Lebanese networks, where everybody knows you, your parents, your grandparents, even if you don’t know THEM. By the way who was this boy Tante Laure saw you with on saturday night? huh? huh? huh?
  • How people speak about you as if you were not there. This is especially true at the hairdresser’s, where said hairdresser and apprenti speak above your head. In the words of the great Chandler: “Should I use my invisibility cape to fight crime or evil?”I. Am. Right. Here. People. AND fully aware you’re tired of my difficult hair (which is admittedly black, curly and thick, but I won’t apologise. At least I haven’t burnt it with Keratine and dyed it Baby Blond)
  • How Racism is rife. Filipinos steal, Palestinians should go home (which they’re literally dying to anyway), Sri Lankans are not clean, fair skinned women are prettier than darker skinned ones and the list of prejudices goes on and on. Charles Malek did not sit in that UN Room in 1948 for hours so that his fellow country men and women could ignore and mistreat the Universal Declaration of Human Rights he helped initiate and draft. Make him proud!

I do love Lebanon and the Lebanese to bits, but I don’t think it’s useful to keep throwing us flowers while there are many, many things that just aren’t working in our societies. It does not serve the Lebanon I’m hoping to see.

Just leaving you with the hilarious Maya Zankoul who always knows how to translate my sentiments into intelligent and spot on drawings: http://mayazankoul.com/2009/12/30/quid-pro-quo/