Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 31st, 2020

Memoirs of a Shia Woman

Tell Mr. Wehbeh: “Bahia has finally landed”

Hameed was seriously considering returning home to Lebanon: He just learned that his mother Zahia had passed away

Actually, the reason Hameed travelled to New York just after WWI was to convince his elder brother Wehbeh to return home because his mother was heart broken: Her favorite eldest son has left her over 10 years ago and never showed sign of coming back for a visit.

News in the early 1920’s reached the toiling people overseas many weeks later.

An employee in Wehbeh restaurant in New York informed Hameed that a lady outside wants to meet with him. The worker said: “She is a lady

On seeing the lady, Hameed felt a confusing impression of having met this woman when he was pretty young.

The lady greeted Hameed in English “Good morning” and resumed in a Lebanese Arabic slang: “Saida, Saida Mr. Hameed. Where is Mr. Wehbeh?

Hameed memory rewinded to over a decade ago, a scene of his father holding a whip, ready for action, and his brother Wehbeh raising a chair. The father spitting and shouting”Adabsis” (A turkish work meaning evil, naughty…)

Hameed recalls crossing the narrow streets in the city of Tyr (in south Lebanon) in the Manara block, and a young girl walking the opposite side of the street. The girl looked briefly at Hameed. And here he is hearing the lady saying: “Tell Mr. Wehbet that Bahia has finally landed”

The story of Wehbeh Ne3meh and Bahia, the daughter of Simon the Copt, took place a few years before WWI. Wehbeh never witnessed the horror of this war or the famine that harvested a quarter of Lebanon’s population, and the onslaught of the locusts…

Wehbeh was a Muslim Shi3a and Bahia was a Christian Orthodox.

They fell in love as Wehbeh was accompanying his Christian fisherman friend Hanna (John) to the church on a Sunday.  Bahia dressed and walked differently from the girls Wehbeh saw in the city.

Since there was no chance for their families to agree on their wedding, this potential couple decided to elope and try to manage later a reconciliation between the families.

Wehbeh was to rent a room in the next city of Saida and wait for Hanna to bring Bahia by sea.

Wehbeh waited for three days and nights by the seashore, at the port, barely sleeping for fear of missing the encounter. He finally gave up and surreptitiously returned to Tyr by night in order Not to meet any person and find out what was the problem.

Bahia was to be engaged to Iskandar, a old 55 year-old Christian man, and Wehbeh was apprehensive that the secret meeting was discovered and Bahia was hurriedly made to marry a man she didn’t care to live with.

Bahia stayed at her aunt. Bahia was to prepare a bag of her belonging, drop it at Hanna’s house, and join Hanna by nightfall to be whisked away on his small fisherman boat.

At the last day, Hanna had a terrible bout of bad conscience, sort of committing an unforgivable sin: He  will be blamed for a mix marriage, considered an enemy to his religious sect, and banned from the city…

Hanna met with the priest and confessed. They both knelt and prayed for hours. The evil Shaitan (demon) was defeated. Only the priest and the aunt knew about the scheme: It was not proper to spread the news…

Wehbeh decided to leave Lebanon and ended up in New York.

These thwarted  love stories based on religious differences were common before, and current even today, and will last for another century.

Note: This story is taken from “Memoirs of a Shia Woman” by Raja2 Ne3meh (Rajaa Nemeh). Hameed will become the father of Rajaa

 

Testimonials of a civil war: A Communist party member

The issue of daily Al Balad, April 26, 2005

Samir Al Ocda was barely 12 years old when the civil war started.  His father was a dedicated Communist party member and hided a Kalashnikov in his house located in Ras Nabaa.

Samir’s father was strict in never allowing any one in the family to touch the Kalashnikov, or missing a school day for demonstrating, or to hanging out in centers where political meetings were taking place.

Once, as Samir was 10 years old, his father and a few of his comrades parked the jeep in the neighborhood.  His father lifted the kid Samir and placed him behind the Doshka machine gun mounted on the jeep. That was the first great impression for power and glory.

Samir political awareness began in 1980 when he was in middle school:  He read the daily newspaper “Al Watan” (the Nation) distributed at the school door.  He badly desired to wear the green vest called “field” that was donned by the communist fighters.

When the bombing intensified, he stood at the school door and harangued the students not to enter and instead to join the demonstrations.  The school  principal remonstrated them and they replied by throwing rocks at him.

In Ras Nabaa stood a house called “Nadi Ruwad” (the patrons club) which hosted Russian delegates and various sports activities. In this house, Samir got indoctrinated and started reading ideological books and participating in discussions.

In 1981, Samir was already 15 years old and joined a training camp for the Communist in Kfar Matta under the direction of a comrade called “Stalin”. He had told his family that he was going out on a scout camp.

The taller the comrade the closer to the front row was the regulation and thus, short Samir was always standing in the back wearing oversized Cuban military garments.

Abu Anis, the war code name for the head of the Communist Party George Hawi, sent immediately these fresh graduating recruits to manning the barricades in St. Theresa, in the Dahia neighborhood in order to face-off the offensives of the “Amal” militias also called the disinherited Shiaas.(Nabih Berri, chief of the Parliament for 25 years, claims that he is the leader of this militia)

Samir was restless from then on and barely visited his family.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and entered Beirut.

Samir helped his comrades recover the military vehicles and hardware buried in the “Sport City” compound and distributed the vehicles to various corners in West Beirut, and mainly around the “Cola” neighborhood.

By dawn, the inhabitants got the fright seeing that amount of military vehicles and chars and started vacating to more peaceful areas in coincidence with the admonishments of the Israeli flyers for the people to empty the surroundings and so Samir’s folks did too.

Samir collected 250 house keys that the tenants left with him for safe keep.

While guarding barricades, Samir used to finger his guitar and a photo was published of him with the legend stating “The break time of a fighter at “Mat7af” (National Museum area)”, followed by the slogans “Down with guns; Long life to guitars!”

His last battle was at “Mat7af” where he faced the Israeli soldiers and managed to earn the scare of his life before successfully retreating.

Samir still believes that he fought for a just cause, but the circumstances and new facts are leaving him to wonder whether this civil war was worth the damage and death.

Since the Taif agreement in 1990, which stopped the war, but left no victors,  and the parliament proclaiming that “All has been forgiven and all involved have been pardoned”, Samir has experienced deep depression periods and witnessed a half-peace and lack of opportunities to earn a living.

(These militia/mafia “leaders’ are still in control of Lebanon in the last 3 decades and bankrupted the State at all levels)

An eye witness confessed to see a bunch of kids playing soccer on a sandy field to discover that the ball was indeed a human skull.

Rami, now 33 years old, used to gather insects in bundles and burn them just to hear the crackling sounds in the fire.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

Blog Stats

  • 1,459,627 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 800 other followers

%d bloggers like this: