For Beirut

On August 4, 2020, my words escaped me. Abandoned me, speechless, with a heart full of rubble and a mind shattered to pieces. It’s been seven long, heavy days since the Beirut blast glued us all to our screens, and I still sit here, lost, words nowhere to be found.

I’m still struggling to piece together my fragmented thoughts, so please excuse the ramblings that this post will surely become.

My feelings keep oscillating between anger and hopelessness. And by 5 pm, I’m utterly and completely drained. And by 6 pm, I remember that what I’m feeling is a 10th of what my Lebanese friends are feeling, and a 100th of what those physically affected by the blood-curdling event are going through. I stop myself before I start thinking of what those who lost their loved ones, their brothers, their lovers, their daughters, must be feeling.

And then the anger takes over again. It’s back and forth, the two feelings alternating to keep me going. Just like your hamstrings and quads take turns making your legs move.

And I don’t know what it is this time, but I can’t seem to distance myself. Distractions don’t work anymore, not the way they did during the revolutions in Egypt, the terrorist attacks, the wars, the explosions, the assassinations- not even the pandemic. 25 years of distractions, yet I seem to have run out of ways to keep my mind off the horror.

At 10 pm, when the anger and hopelessness are too tired to carry my heavy heart any longer, the guilt seeps in. Guilt for succeeding at distracting myself all those years. Because the ability to switch off your attention in the face of disaster is a privilege and a curse. Because I shouldn’t have distracted myself. I should have acted. We all should have acted.

And While everyone listens to Fairouz’s Li Beirut, or ‘for Beirut’, on repeat, I can’t seem to get Mashrou’ Leila’s Lel Watan (for the nation) out of my head. How we dance and sing and distract ourselves, over and over and over again, while the criminals in power loot and steal and murder the innocent. Why are songs from decades ago still resonating? Why are we still fighting the same fight. Why do the people of Lebanon need to keep rising from under the rubble ‘like an almond flower in April’?

But we’re acting now. We’re awake and we’re present and nothing can distract us. We’re fighting the fight on all fronts, and we will keep shouting about the injustices until they have no place in our societies. And one day, we will live in peace.

Thank you for reading my incoherent thoughts. While I can’t Venmo your time back to you, I promise to donate a dollar to the Lebanese Red Cross for every view I get on this article.

And if you would like to donate to Lebanon: supportlrc.app/donate. 

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