Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ain Wardeh

Siege Attitudes: Sample of Lebanon Civil War Account (April 27, 2009)


Note:  Many Lebanese immigrated during the civil war and did not experience the siege mentality or the horrors or psychological scars. 

Since 1991, there are new generations that don’t know much about the civil war or don’t care to know. Since they don’t read even the scarce descriptions then what they know is mainly hearsay and from biased sources.  This article is a brief translation of a chapter in “Ain Wardeh” by Jabbour Douweihy.

Marguerite, the Austrian wife of Joujou, has no control over her body each time she hears the whistling of a missile or a rocket; she hysterically and silently runs and opens the main door and step outside with a pillow and then re-enters and keeps the same wandering habit through the staircases and outside.

She would sit on the upper stair and cry her eyes out.  In the beginning, Marguerite would freeze like a cat surrounded by drummers.  At the start of the civil war, Marguerite wanted to have an idea of “What’s going on” and pointedly asked sensitive and targeted questions; each answer generated more questions that finally baffled those who were supposed to know it all.

Marguerite was judged to be too naïve to comprehend this ultra complex situation.  For example, when the militias started summarily executing drivers on confessional grounds Marguerite would ask “How can a militia know the religion of the driver?

The answer could be “Because religious affiliation is mentioned in the ID”.  Then, “And if the driver is not carrying an ID?” “They know from his name”; Then, “Is the name Rida (a member in the family) Moslem or Christian?”  “They know from his face or his slang or his pronunciation” and on and on.

Joujou has imposed himself as the experienced warrior who never participated effectively on any front lines. He claims to know the type and caliber of every canon. When he hears a 155 mm bombs he exclaims “Those bastards. This is a field gun. The 155 mm should not be targeting civilian neighborhoods

Or Joujou  would say “This is a Hawn 80 mm caliber.  It is totally useless and relics of the short civil war of 1958”   Joujou tries to locate the coordinates of the gunners with the help of maps in his “war room”, only to realize that those guns are movable on trucks.

Joujou attempted once to drive a Panhard carrier and injured 5 people when the gun got activated by mistakes.  When the phone lines go dead or disrupted then Joujou would volunteer his intelligence that the communication “central” has been targeted.  At the start of civil war, Joujou refused to believe the news on the radio saying: “Those announcers behind their desks are fabricating imaginary events

The entire family is hooked to the transistor (radio) for the routine news and emergency flash news. When the news warns of the imminence of an all out attack then the daily routines of every member in the family is put on hold and two candles are lighted and people barely move so that their vast shadows would not scare off the others.

The worst news was when the radio announced a cease fire with precise date and time: nobody would believe that this deal would remain for any length of time: snipers were their worst nightmares.  Joujou would then carry the radio when everyone is asleep and mechanically locate “Monte Carlo” and “Voice of Cairo” and “The BBC” on the ground that these airwaves were unbiased and might bring confirmation.

In the morning, Nouhad, the tiny spinster aunt, would fetch the radio because she was not appeased with the many shelling during the night.  If anyone tried to change channels then she would shout “This is not the time for chatting”.

By the by, as events escalated and everyone realized that this civil war is for the duration then Joujou declared “The US Administration is not wiling to put an end to the war; it is waiting for critical political changes to take place before the Administration decides on a policy”

Nouhad started to persist commenting on the news, especially if not to her biased stand, and nobody could hear the news anymore.  If the piece of news was not to Nouhad’s liking she would interject “Lier!” 

Slowly but surely the radio was put to rest and went into desuetude.  The cook woman used the radio in the kitchen to listen to music.




March 2023

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