Adonis Diaries

Boarding school: Introspection

Posted on: December 23, 2008

Life at the boarding school, (continue 10)


We lived, my brother Ghassan and I, six years as interns (boarding school) and I don’t remember much how I spent these years; maybe we internalized the reality that we are in a prison and we had to make do and accommodate with this fact.  Other intrepid souls understood that they are just in a detention center and they felt they could leave or bust for a few days. Only once, a new French priest used to take us out into nature for his class to initiate us with botanic and we never saw him again or experienced outdoor classes, not in this intern school or other schools. I did enjoy greatly this outdoor class. I cannot recall that we ever listened to radio or TV; as if these machines didn’t reach Lebanon at the time.

Three years later, my little sister Raymonde joined another intern school in Beit-Chabab, managed by Maronite sisters and she suffered a lot because she was very attached to mother and she felt a total stranger. Raymonde didn’t eat and she was constantly sick and crying.  I didn’t know that I had a sister at a school 400 meters away until my cousin Aida introduced me to her, years later, when I had to go there and receive my pocket-money every two weeks.


I liked to play and run and jump ten stairs with “echasses” or wooden long stick legs.  Obviously, Ursula was not working at the school at the time; she might have been transferred to a convent.  We used to have real battles with the echasses trying to knock down off the opposing team.  We played balls, volley balls, basketball and catching balls.  My favorite game was played in the nearby forest called “numero”; two teams would be wearing 3-number plaque over their forehead attached with a string and we were to hide the numbers against trees and peeking out the enemy’s number; again Ursula was not working there at the time.

I must have a lot of pent-up anger within me which materialized when I blew off my top on few occasions and could not hear anything then and kept shouting like a madman. Jihad was my sole supporter when I ran into fights.  I recall once that students forced a fight on me with my Muslim friend (the only one in school), a red-headed boy of the same age and whom I had defended against everybody; this sole Muslim student was aggressed by older boys, a scout leader among them, and was treated as an enemy because he belonged to another religion; I defended him and his religion though I had no idea what Islam was; I just felt that it was unjust and unfair to isolate a little boy and harass him so blatantly and harshly without any support or help. In the fight I was on top of the red-headed boy but the students kept hollering that he is stronger than me and that I was defeated!


Life in family


When my parents finally decided to stay in Lebanon to care for us personally, mother cried her eyes out when she saw me in shabby attire and baggy pants and skinny and not well-developed.  Mother said that I was a very stubborn child.  Each time I overheard that my parents were going someplace and felt that they decided not take me with them then I would cry for hours until they relent.  Most of my stubborn crying were about going to movies with the adults; I recall once in intern school that the adult students were to watch a movie at a nearby local eating place and I stayed awake till they started off and I insisted and cried till I was allowed to join the group.

I recall that one day I shouted against my aunt Therese and dad ordered me to apologize; I would not apologize and he removed his belt and started hitting me until his hand felt tired but I refused to apologize or even cry; mother and Therese were crying asking dad to stop it but I was too stubborn to admit any wrong doing. I think that was the first time that dad belted me and he never hit me again realizing that I am too hard-headed for these strong-arm methods of intimidation. Even now, when I see a movie where the actors constantly utter “I am sorry. Please forgive me. Give me another chance” I feel like vomiting to constant apologizing verses. 

Once, in my class of “septieme” (seventh grade in French schools, going in ascending order from grade one…), the teacher Anselm hit me on the palm with a ruler and it turned blue; he never attempted to hit me again.  In the USA, a group of four Lebanese Phalanges ganged up on me and I faced them and fought them hard and never cared to run away; they wanted to stop the beatings but I would resume the fight once I recovered my breath; they had to give up and leave me alone all bruised up but they never dared to beat me again or even come close to me.

Note: I heard recently a story by Aunt Montaha.  The oldest of the sisters, late Josephine, was teaching Arab grammar (Kawa3ed, E3rab) at school, the second year after she passed her Brevet. Montaha happened to be a student in Josephine class; once and as was the custom, Josephine stroke Montaha’s open palms with a ruler; when Montaha complained Josephine turned her face and smiled.  Montaha claimed that Josephine wanted to send a message to class that she is not about to show biases; more likely, Josephine smiled at the funny face that Montaha must have hanged at the moment.

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December 2008

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