Adonis Diaries

Testimonials of a civil war: The case of Carmen Meshleb Chahine

Posted on: October 22, 2008

Testimonials of a civil war: The case of Carmen Meshleb Chahine 

Note: civil war in Lebanon 1975-1991

The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 16, 2005

Carmen Meshleb Chahine is 41 of age, married, and her daughter is 21 years old now. She lived in Ain Rumany during the civil war and used to wake up at the sound of gun fire and artillery. Her husband, daughter, and she used to hurry to the shelter in the next door building when the haphazard shelling started.

Rich, poor, the chatty and silent people, the hardy men and the cowered used to meet at these moments. Carmen used to imagine the impossible ways to disinfect the food for her daughter, and let her sleep quietly amid the screams, sickness and fumes.

Carmen believes that mothers were the real fighters during this war, the most solid and resilient fighters of all regardless of religious sects.  Mothers were fighting death to conserve their families.  The happiest instances for the mothers were when they discovered that their families were intact after a terrible explosion in the vicinities.

In these bad times, there were no vacations for professionals earning decently their living. In order to survive, people sold drugs, arms, stolen goods and even rotten meat that were contaminated by radiation. One day, Carmen’s daughter arrived home from school and told her that a girl friend of her fell asleep in the court yard and red dirt covered her cloth.  She asked her mother from where did the red dirt came from.  She did not realize that the shell that fell on the school killed her friend.

It was common for students in public schools to wrap up two school years in one and no student failed his exams:  it was admitted as inconceivable that some students from another confessional affiliation proved to be below standards.

One day, Carmen’s husband went to purchase bread and a bomb struck the crowded lines of citizens, lined up in front of a bakery. Carmen hurried to the place and mingled with the wounded, and amid the dislocated members of some unfortunate citizens, searching for her husband.  He was bleeding but alive this time around.

Carmen still hear a few old timers of the war, between 35 and 50 years of age, bemoaning the good days of the war because they cannot find jobs that generate quick riches; they try their old swindling tricks on the innocents because these tricks are the only profession they learned during the war.

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adonis49

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