Adonis Diaries

“A House of Stone” in Marje3youn (Lebanon): Who is late Antony Shedid (Chedid)?

Posted on: April 29, 2012

“A House of Stone” in Marje3youn (Lebanon): Who is late Antony Shedid?

Late Antony Shedid (Chedid?) is the twice Pulitzer winner who died at the age of 43, consequent to a bout of asthma while on his way from Syria to Turkey in 2011.  Chedid covered the war in Iraq and also the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt.

Antony Chedid is from the flat city of Tulsa in east Oklahoma. His grandfather (from his mother side) is Esber Samara, from the town of Marje3youn in south Lebanon, and who immigrated to the USA in 1920.

Antony Shedid died before publishing his book “A Stone House”, a house he inherited from his mother and decided to repair it in the town of Marje3youn (with currently about 800 inhabitants as most of the people fled during the long civil war that started in 1975 and theoretically ended in 1991.

(The same war lords and militia leaders are ruling Lebanon and were appointed ministers and deputies to the Parliament as a negotiated deal: They should have been put to trial and sent to prison…)

Antony Shedid names the real people he dealt with, and also named the local leader who displaced the benevolent physician running the hospital in order to appoint a person of his retinue

Like this tile master who promised to start next Monday and didn’t show up until months later because he had another assignment in the Bekaa Valley…

Like this women neighbor who is very upset because Shedid rented a room at another lady’s house.

There are no heroes in this story: Most of the real characters are sad and down on their luck, humiliated and feeling indignant.

Shedid described his grandfather as someone who was good at rhetoric and he “heard his neighbors vouching for different allegiances like the Nationalist Arabs, the French mandated power, and even for Orthodox Russia, as Russia was turning communist)”. Esber told his family:

Lebanon is no longer a safe place to live in, and it has no future, even if this time around we’ll miss a war” and he decided to take his family to the USA.

The block of the Samara in Marje3youn was called “The red tiled-roof street” and the house had many inheritance to claim it, and Anthony owned just a portion in the share, but nobody was willing to come to Lebanon and do any repair…Actually, the garden of the house still has an Israeli missile planted, which didn’t go off, as souvenir of perpetual preemptive wars launched by Israel on Lebanon.

A neighbor asked Anthony if he would repair his house too, since it is very close to the house he is repairing…Anthony had to learn how to press olive for oil and how to roll a cigarette of hashish…

I have read many novels of couples describing the detailed process of building their houses.

Like this English couple who decided to move to south France and purchased an old house with the orchard and vine trees and going through the hassle of supervising the “remodeling” adventure…describing the people of the environ, the craftsmen, the foremen…But I still have to read another book on the subject, this time a very melancholic book…

I knew a girl of Lebanese descent studying law at the University of Oklahoma at Norman in the year 1976.  She was from the Shedid family, most probably a close relative of Anthony, since her family lived also in Tulsa. She had a lovely smile and an easy laugh, and had a nose job.

I also met one of her relatives who was lawyer in Oklahoma City. How did I meet this lawyer?

I had purchased a second-hand VW from a friend of mine who had bought a spiffy Spitfire. The VW was cooled by air and didn’t require much maintenance and I wonder why this model was taken out of circulation…

One night at 2 am, I was driving in Norman to pick up a friend finishing his night job and a drunk lady ran into me at a red light. The car was beyond repair and I think I lost consciousness for seconds out of total surprise. I read later from statistics that driving at this hour of the night is the most dangerous period: The streets seem vacated and you fail to look at intersections…

Well, the girl suggested to take an appointment with her relative lawyer.

It was a period were law suits for neck and back pains from car accidents reaped huge health benefit, and the lawyer asked me to pay regular visits to a physician he transferred cases to him in Del City (by Oklahoma Cit).

The story was not profitable at all. The insurance company wanted to pay me $1,500 for the busted car. After months of wasting my time visiting this physician and all the trouble I went through, the lawyer reached a deal and obtained $3,000: Half of the amount was transferred to the lawyer account!

An older relative of Anthony once boasted in defiance: “The only time I’ll return to my hometown in Lebanon is to be buried. I have already purchased my burial ground…”

The ashes of Anthony were dispersed on the newly designed garden of his stone house in Marje3youn.

I don’t know if this decision was in the will or if a thoughtful member of the family decided that this is the most proper way to dispose of Anthony. I think that was an ingenious idea and a lovely gesture.

The Lebanese have got to change the customs of how to dispose of the dead loved ones: Dispersing the ashes around their stone houses. Sort of: “Ease up your steps…Your ancestors are in these dirts…”

There is a significant difference in meaning in the way we dispose of the bodies, and dispersing the ashes is the highest form of humanism: “Dirt you came from and ashes you’ll be dispersed…with much added values to mankind in community reconciliation

I hope the ashes of Anthony in Marje3youn will be a reminder to all the communities in Lebanon that it is about time to consider citizenship belonging supersedes tribal idiosyncracies.

Note: Post inspired from a piece of Samir Attalah. Attalah writes a weekly column in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar on Thursday.


2 Responses to "“A House of Stone” in Marje3youn (Lebanon): Who is late Antony Shedid (Chedid)?"

[…] “A House of Stone” in Marje3youn (Lebanon): Who is late Antony Shedid (Chedid)? […]

a US field journalist of Lebanese descendants, from Oklahoma, Tulsa

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April 2012

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