Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘autobiography

A trove of letters and wish cards accumulated for 50 years: Great documents for re-editing my autobiography

As mother passed away in January 2020, before the advent of Covid-19, though many elder parents died from acute pneumonia, in coma and in IUC, I started sorting out accumulated objects, clothes, papers, documents, letters that I sent and received, wishing cards…

I have been retrieving and sorting out hundreds upon hundreds of letters that my parents saved in the last 50 years.

It felt a chores and I thought of dumping everything into the waste bin.

In many cultures, people just gather everything and set up a bonfire.

After the initial feeling of a chore from perusing letters before dropping them in the waste been, I discovered that there are many interesting information and news that I totally forgot that I wrote about for my parents, sister and relatives… and what they wrote to me.

And then it dawn on me that these are actual documents, excellent to re-edit my autobiography that I posted 10 years ago “Not glamorous person”

Surprises, surprises.

Names that I totally forgot, names that I am unable to put a face on them, sort of these people will have to show me pictures of younger periods and recount to me details of events and locations we met and shared for me to recollect…

Surprises, surprises

Locations, so many places that I had visited and had no recollection of being there or with whom I visited.

Surprises, surprises

So many suggestions I told them and that they never acted upon

Surprises, surprises

Frequent transfer of money, mostly with people visiting my home country Lebanon, and checks… though I was mostly broke most of the periods and barely surviving. I remembered two transfers of money, but never in such a frequency. If I knew my parents were totally broke…I would have sent far more transfers and in higher amounts

I learned later on that mother had to sell all her jewelry in order for father to pay the “taxes” for the many militias parties during our 15 years of civil war., in order for their home Not to be occupied or rented…

Surprises, surprises

So many fictitious plans and projects that I had to create just to fill a letter and give the illusion that I am able to sustain myself and high on hope for my future.

Before I started publishing in I kept a diary of everyday events, trips, even the recurring routine activities…and filled many dozen of booknotes.

I blackened thousands of pages of articles and notes before I typed them on my computer. Restructuring the thoughts and re-editing, especially while walk returning home from the private library. Mother convinced herself that I had a part-time job at the library and didn’t resume her complaints.

Actually my first hard computer was assembled by my nephew William from scratch, every element of it. This computer served me well for 4 years.

And then I purchased a laptop that I could carry with me in my backpack and started typing directly and saving dozens of draft articles.

I had decided Not to overwhelm my readers with more than 2 articles a day, and I ended up with a hundred draft article, most of them ready to be published.

Yes, gold suggestions they failed to act upon.

I told my father to exchange his Lebanese pounds to British Sterling in 1980. He didn’t listen to me. a few years later, Lebanon pound (Lira) was devalued to almost nothing and my parents found themselves totally broke.

I told my parents to get out of Lebanon and re-start their life in Africa where they made their fortune and spent the best of their happy years. Mother would have jumped on this new adventure, but my sister was expecting her first child and mother had to remain. I guess father was no longer ready for any adventure without mother to support him and guide him. They missed 40 years for a new life and died totally broke.

I was touring Africa and Lebanese were still making “easy money”. A bakery for producing just bread generated a fortune for almost Not working personally.

A fact that is recurring in Lebanon: Any one who decides to settle back home inevitably goes into a coma of lethargy and imagination and end up wasting all his wealth.

Only the militia/mafia “leaders” and their assistants made fortunes by highway robbing the State budget and running and controlling the public institutions

Note: I say: Any childhood changes (locations, schools…) is a path life changing. Too many of these child a-changing leave you stuck in a maze.

And what sleep Dreams illustrate?

Marsha Norman wrote: “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

I believe that sleep dreams are the draft scenarios stories of the “I-Self” that the conscious mind re-edit to modify the “Me-Self” autobiography of our worldview that conform to the customs and traditions of the community…

The “I-Self” stories are pretty incoherent fragments, and we hardly can make sense of them, and we prefer to forget them as soon as we wake up.

The “I-Self” stories are basic building blocks to whatever alterations we conduct on our autobiographical version story and many of the next days decisions.

When I sleep in chunks of 3 to 4 hours, I am necessarily dreaming, whether I recall that I had dreamt or not…

Consequently, I am twice editing my autobiography every single day. In winter time, I am editing it three times: My siestas are lengthy and generate dreams…

Does that mean “The more often you dream, the better person you are?”

Note: I know that I had dreams when my siesta period extends for more than one hour

Mon Cher Ado”

Note: Georges Bejani has dual citizenship (French/Lebanese) and is settled in France. He taught in France before retirement. Georges started writing a few of his childhood souvenir on FB,  I prodded him that, by the by, he will learn to be bolder. I also reminded him that I have already posted my autobiography on several years ago. It kicked and Georges is posting one of his memoirs almost everyday. Here are a few samples.

Mon cher Ado,

Ce dimanche matin du 12 août 2018 , je me suis levé du pied gauche, parce que ma femme à occupé ma place habituelle au lit , celle qui me permettait de me lever du pied droit .

Cela me rend irritable ! Et si tu rajoute une douleur désagréable qui me titille à la poitrine , alors tu comprends dans quel état se trouve ton ami .

Bref, et comme l’horloge du salon m’indique qu’il est presque huit heures , c’est à dire , neuf heures au Liban à cause du décalage , alors je suis doublement irrité car je ne pourrait pas me rendre à Mar Sessine pour la messe du dimanche , et où je pourrais me remémorer ceux de ma famille qui nous ont pré cédés au ciel , ni rencontrer ceux qui sont encore là.

Avec aussi l’espoir de te rencontrer en chaire et en os  (a Beit Chabab).

Autrefois , notre terrain de jeux était le petit espace devant l’église, (Mar Sessine ou La Vierge Marie), quelques mettre carré , on jouait à cache cache , à saute moutons , aux billes , car aux débuts des années cinquante, la petite place n’était pas encore dallée , ni d’ailleurs les escaliers du village .

Et les maisons étaient bien jolies avec leurs murs en pierres de taille et leurs toits en tuiles rouge de Marseille, et devant chacune d’elles , un jardinet et où les mains robustes de nos aïeux faisaient pousser des fruits et légumes , avec évidemment quelques fleurs en bordure du jardin, pour plaire à leurs épouses et aux passants.

Sans oublier le poulailler et pour certain une chèvre qui nous procurait du lait frais et du fromage blanc, qu’on appelait fromage vert, dont on se régalait surtout en été quand on accompagnait ce fromage avec une grappe de raisin ou une tranche de pastèque ou même une tomate bien rouge qu’on cueillait dans notre jardin

Tu pourras en rajouter si tu veux mon cher ami . Que rien ne t’en empêche ! Bon dimanche et à la prochaine !!!!

Adonis Bouhatab replied: 

Mar Sessine event day is in September 15. Are you already in Lebanon for Al Sayyidat (Vergin Marie) in August 15? I overheard from third party that probably they’ll play petanque/boule that day. Amene les toupies (belbol) aussi, and a few billes (kelal). J’entends te faucher toutes les billes, Le pied gauche est mauvais pour le coeur: ta femme devrait le savoir? A demain: on fera de sorte qu’on defriche un terrain pas dalle’

Mon cher Ado ,

En 1966 , l’école des frères Maristes de Jounieh fut transplantée à Dick el Me7di . De ce fait , nous avons déménagé à Beit- Chabab qui se trouve à quelques km de cette localité .

Ainsi j’allais tous les matins à l’école , du nom de Champville pour poursuivre mes études secondaires .

Cette année -là , à part les études , nous n’avions rien à faire car le village s’endormait dès 6 heures de l’après – midi .  (Ca n’a pas change’)

Parfois nous nous promenions jusqu’à l’orée du village , vers le pont tout en grignotant des cacahuètes et en cassant des pépins .

Par beau temps nous nous installions chez Alexandre Le Bas ( Scandar Lwati ) surnommé Le Bas parce que sa maison se trouvait au bas du village .

Et là, nous jouions aux cartes et autres jeux de société jusqu’à la fermeture de la boutique , qui se faisait au plus tard vers 8 heures du soir .

Alors nous rentrions nous coucher … Nos amours étaient courtes pour ne pas dire inexistantes . Je me souviens d’une fille charmante qui était interne au collège dès fille , et que j’aimais , mais que je n’ai plus revue depuis ce temps- là.

Je crois qu’elle s’appelait Aida , si ma mémoire est bonne . Le sort a voulu qu’ à la fin de l’année du bac , en 1968 , je partis pour la Guinée pour rejoindre mes parents . Tu dois te dire pourquoi je te raconte tout ça ? Et bien pour rien !

En 1976, nous avions quitté le Liban avec notre fils de trois ans, fuyant les atrocités de la guerre civile qui sévissait dans notre pays. Nous sommes partis pour Abidjan , capitale de la Côte – d’ivoire où j’ai trouvé un poste d’enseignant dans la ville de Bondoukou , située à plus de 400 km au nord est d’Abidjan .

Nous embarquâmes dans un taxi brousse car c’était le seul moyen pour y aller . Au bout de 100 km sur une route bitumée , mais bien sinueuse , nous avons poursuivi 

The dust invaded us from everywhere so that we arrived all red to destination and were greeted by the principal of the high school who hastened to accompany us to the hotel where we were eager to take a bath to get rid of pounds of dust that had piled up all over the body.

The next day, I walked to school, sandals and shorts. The students were very nice and applied.

One day I was writing on the blackboard, a student approached me silently: she was barefoot, like the majority of students, lack of means, and she tapped my leg. I flinched and asked for explanations!

She told me there was a horsefly who wanted to steal me! And the whole class started laughing and applauding the young girl who had just saved me from the worst disaster that could happen to me that day!

Back in Abidjan, for Christmas Holidays, I contacted the bocoum, to inquire about the health of Brigitte and Marie Jeanne who had been my students at the college in Lebanon where their father was ambassador to Ivory Coast and on leave . I wonder today if my dear Suzanne wasn’t with them?

Royan , face à l’océan !

Ce matin , je me suis promené au bord de l’Atlantique , cet océan qui a vu au cours des siècles derniers des marins s’aventurer pour aller pêcher la morue jusqu’aux confins du monde et souvent disparaître , engloutis Par ce monstre impassible …

Tôt , ce matin , je me suis donc trouvé seul , sans aucune âme qui vive alentours, et là, je me délectais à admirer le spectacle qui s’offrait à mon regard et écouter cette musique que fredonne cet océan , admiré et craint à la fois par les hommes , que Baudelaire compare dans ” l’homme et la mer ”

Adonis Bouhatab:  le morue ou les baleines? C’etait une industrie prospere dans le north east coast of USA qui a decime’ les baleines au 19eme siecle.

Georges first essay before starting “Mon chere Ado” series 

La côte Charentaise est une des plus agréable pour passer un été ensoleillé tout en évitant les grandes chaleurs. À partir de Royan, on peut prendre le bus , soit pour aller vers le Nord , vers Saint Palais ou La Grande Côte et La Palmyre , soit pour aller vers le Sud , vers Saint Georges de Didone ou encore Talmon sur Gironde .

Talmont , un petit village plein de charme avec ses petites ruelle parsemées de boutiques et de restaurant prêts à vous servir les bonnes fritures , les moules ou autres crustacés accompagnés d’un bon vin du pays car il ne faut pas oublier que le Médoc ou le Bordelais s’aperçoivent à vue d’œil .

Talmont sur Gironde avec son église du XII e siècle .

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Et là , nous pouvons visiter la petite églises de Sainte-Radegonde avec son cimetière marin du XII siècle et qui fut érigée sur la route qui mène vers Saint Jacques de Compostelle autrefois fréquentées par les pèlerins qui venaient du pays des Charentes ou d’ailleurs

Sachant qu’en 1284 , Édouard 1er d’Angleterre fut le fondateur de la ville close de Talmont . Au-delà de l’estuaire de la Gironde , nous pouvons apercevoir l’océan Atlantique confortablement installé dans son lit et toujours prêt à accueillir les navigateurs de tous bords qui se balancent à sa surface avec l’espoir d’aller tranquillement à destination , sur les bords américaines .

Voilà mon cher Ado ce que j’avais à te raconter ce matin.

“Trip to the End of the Night” by Ferdinand Celine

This French book, published in the early 1930’s, is basically a collection of authobiographical stories of a freshly graduating physician who established his “clinic” in a poor working neighborhood in the suburb of Paris.

Celine (pen name) used to be called to pay visit to patients after sundown, and his medical tour will last till dawn, from a poor patient to another avorting dying girl because the parents refused to send her to the hospital for face saving…

Celine volunteered in WWI and was caught in the machinery and could no longer escape this infernal absurdity.  He was able to flee to the USA and worked at Ford factories in Detroit. He returned to France and studied medicine.

The followings are excerpts, not of the stories, but of the kind of statements that the living among miseries bring up in our mind and emotions.

It is imperative to comprehend why we are so stubborn to refuse a cure for our solitude…We keep hiding from acquaintances. I recall the words of this young corporal, hospitalized during the war. He confided: “Earth is sick and dead, and we are fat decaying worms…All rotten since birth…” He was good enough to be carried by two soldiers to be executed by a firing squad: He was an anarchist as the War council decided…I didn’t know better at the time to take time and listen to these soldiers: I wouldn’t know how to ask the right questions anyway…

The old patient was saying: “I can’t feel my feet, I feel cold up to my knees. I can’t drink anything…I want to touch my feet but I can’t…” He was kind of half out of life, he couldn’t get rid of his lungs…He exhaled but air would come in anyway. Kind of his lungs relentlessly making him suffer to the very end. That’s a harsh job staying alive…He struggled as harder to stay alive as to die

Life is a special class of boredom and annoyances, and they are the eternal pions. Boredom is here all the time, spying on you, and you have to frequently look occupied, at any price…Masturbating is an excellent pass time: You are occupied and getting some pleasure.  Mostly, we would like to have an endless series of pleasure-like activities to survive the long 24-hour day. A day is really very long to surmount and suffer the ever ready presence of boredom…Even in our continuous boredom, we refuse to reflect on ourselves…Nothing very pleasurable here, self-reflection.

It is impossible to swallow truth, like the death of your lover, or the death of your kid…The more distant the lover, literally, the more you cannot communicate face to face, and smell the rotten flesh…You keep adding and heaping values, good traits and lies to the reality of love…It’s natural and regular this tendency, loving from afar…

The little people can claim to have lived, only if the manage to overcome this habit of blind obedience, inculcated in the brain since childhood, and they should vomit obeying the rich and the authority figures once for al.

The balanced youth is who can respect everyone with no discrimination whatsoever…How come we cannot find these kind of youth?

It is not relentlessness that we ever lacked, but how to be on the proper road that lead to a tranquil death. The worst case scenario is when death takes us by surprise, in between two hesitations…

War is ever ready to wake up and grumble, due mainly to the criminal boredom that gets the little people out of their confined caves…How many of the poor people should be sacrificed before they comprehend the humour of it?

Note: Read part 2:

“I am what I am”? What that mean?
Virginia Satir (American psychologist and Educator, 1916-1988) wrote: “I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything...”
I have read this quote in the About of a reader who subscribed to my blog. The About resumes:
“My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”
I am not sure if the entire About is from Virginia Satir, but I felt my chest compressing and suffocating: Do all these things belong to me? 
Am I responsible for all these potentials and the duty to care for them?
Shouldn’t liberal capitalist systems ease up a few of the burdens off my shoulders and offer me a few affordable social facilities?
I read a post on titled “That’s how I am. I can’t do anything about it. I’m sorry.”
(Why people have to insert the term “I am sorry”?. It make no sense to me. Nobody is sorry, otherwise they should have changed their behavior prior to saying they are sorry)

The post read: “There’s no “That’s how I am.”

There’s how everything around you made you without your awareness.

And there’s how you consciously made yourself. These are the two things that most make you.

I was having a dream.

I’m in a little cabin with a nice lady. A male friend of mine is there too. The lady is standing just outside the door on the porch. My friend is standing a the door, leaning left on his hand.

I’m watching them from inside, the light from outside glows her golden hair, and makes a silhouette of the rest of them.

My friend is telling the lady, just out of nowhere:”Warm Italian spaghetti topped with a lush tomato sauce and a hint of basil. A cold glass of wine, and strawberry cheesecake for a sweet end.”

Her face lights up, “I’m starving!” she replies.  I never did that. Well maybe when I’m asking a girl out the first time. I usually shout out to the girl from one corner of the studio “I’m hungry, you?” That’s not how I am.

That’s how everything around me made me. I can change that. I like the approach of my friend in the dream. I’ll change my habit. I’ve done that countless times. How I am right now is not how I was 10 years ago.

Ten years ago, 80% of me was because of how everything around me made me. Today 80% percent of me is how I consciously made myself. Habit change is all it takes. One tiny habit at a time.

I like today’s me better. You? Twitter @williamchoukeir”  End of quote

Four years ago, I wrote my autobiography, the biography of someone not glamorous or famous, and the last chapter was nature versus nurture, sort of chronological timeline of “What if this didn’t happens…What if I didn’t make that decision…”, would I have been a different person?

You judge, decide, and send me feedback.


“La consolante” is the latest of Anna Gavalda.  Usually, when two teams or two individuals play to win then, for the same level in talent, the one with a character to win usually win.  That is why, it is a good behavior to have a rematch with “no winning” conditions (La consolante), just having fun, be relaxed, and enjoying the game.

The novel is supposed to have a story but so far, it is evident that I might have to read 635 pages if I feel any urge to know the story.  Modern novels have complex beginnings and convoluted organization:  modern publishers think that modern readers have the patience to follow a story when the internet is bombarding us with thousands of stories per hour.  In my case, I don’t care for the main story:  it is the hundreds of backup mini stories that interest me.  In Gavalda’s case, every conversation is a story; it is kind of hundred lovely mini stories of everything and about everybody (not famous and not glamorous) camouflaged in a novel.  Actually, my autobiography is dedicated to those not famous and not glamorous.

I don’t know if Gavalda read my blog; I know that many read my book review of her book “Together is all that I want” and a piece called “I love that kid”.  Anyway, I have this impression that Anna is emulating my style but in French.  It does not matter if my statement is incorrect:  Fact is, her style suits me grandly.  I don’t care about the main story:  It should take no more than 10 pages to tell “War and peace” or “Gone with the wind”.  It is the “collateral” stories that make the news.

The back cover might be helpful for the catching your attention on the story: “Charles Balanda, 47 years old, architect living in Paris. He incidentally learns of the passing away of a lady he knew when kid.  That woman incarnated a totally different universe of what he experienced within his “small scale bourgois” family.  The universe represented by this lady was craziness, passions, pains, sufferings, and being alive.  Hearing this piece of news, the life of Balanda flips to anguish and sadness:  He lost it in his family, work, and in his convictions… Until (surprise!) he meets Kate and his vision of the world is changed again…”

I might write a series of Gavalda’s conversations in this book.  For example:  “The little girl (of maybe 8) was curled up in the backseat of my car.  I could not recall the name of her pony that she mounted during competition and tried to guess out loud. Then, she said: “There are times, I wished you were my daddy.”  I refrained from replying:  Any answer was going to spoil everything.  What could I have replied?  That I am better than her father?  That I am not her father and that she’s better not to dwell on those thoughts?  I think my silence was saying it better than all the answers that I could have babbled.”

Note:  I finished the novel and might write something about the stories.  Anna Gavalda published “I want someone to wait for me somewhere”; “I loved him”, and “She barely escaped it”

It must have been 1955.  I was less than 6 years old and one hour from death of thyphoid desease. The French military commander in the town of Sikassou was gracious to extend me and mother a lift in a small plane to the Capital Bamako: The Republic of Mali was then a French colony.  Two weeks in the cold chamber and three months later I had to be trained to learn to stand and walk.

My parents decided that a transfer to Lebanon, with much better “healthy” climate, was best for me.  I was thus confined for 6 years in a mountenous boarding school.  The school was run by the Maronite church.  My 3-year old brother joined me:  It was wiser not to play odds for another deadly desease.  Close cousins of mine (parents working in Africa) were also in the school:  Mainly for the same reason. 

A nun working in the school, who was a close relative to mother, received the injuction to protecting me from “dangerous” activities.  For 6 years, I was protected from “dangerous” activities:  I was not to join boy scouts, to join my schoolmate during summer time for two weeks vacation outside the confinement of the school, group games, or even undertaking games that were potentially dangerous like rollerskating or mounting on “echasse”.  I was a healthy boy though much samller and tinier than most boys my age.  I didn’t know the Arabic language (formal or slang) and ended up being two years older than my classmates with shorter stature.

My schoolmates felt and understood that I was a protected student not to be beaten or chastised lest dire consequences befell them; this implicit order applied to teachers and supervisors .  Yes, I was hated and despised for my unique situation.  I was saddened and outraged for my unique “favorite” condition and the shunning of classmates; it showed in occasional outbursts; angry conditions when I could not even hear what I was being told .

By the age of nine, I somehow was entitled to receive small cash allowances every month that I had no use for:  I barely ate or cared to eat; I had no “feasible dreams” in order to plan or to train any of my luxury tendencies.  I assimilated my fate that it was useless dreaming and being part of my schoolmate collective activities that were normally classified as potentially dangerous activities.  I think that satisfying my dreams by procurement was a normal reaction.  More than one students approached me to borrowing money in order to purchase rollerskating or other products.  Money had no meaning to me and I gave away whatever I had saved.

At school end of year ceremonies and activities, that I was not part of except standing as an angel with white wings, I clapped hard to the dangerous rollerskaters rolling down a harsh incline at vertiginous speed, jumping and crossing a circle on fire.  Was I clapping for my procured dreams?  I strongly doubt it.  I had no dreams by now to even consider procured dreams.  I think that I was clapping for enjoying the “moment” by default. 

I was living life by the moment: I had no plans and forgot how to plan anything.  You would think that these 6 years in boarding school must have been an eternity to me; not at all.  These 6 years could be wrapted in a single day: I don’t recall much; mostly a few instances related to physical matters.

Do you think adults can rejuvenate ancient dreams when they lost hope for dreaming in childhood?  Who would buy a pair of stupid rollersakes in an advanced age when he never learned the skills in childhood?  He must be mentally debil.  I think that I decided that, if I manage to save enough for a pair of rollerskates, I will buy a pair and then break a leg!  It is a stupid decision but it is better late than never to defying destiny.

If it was not for my aunt nun I think my folks might have incarcerated me in one of France boardingschools; I would not be the same person by simply joining collective games. 

I don’t think mankind is naturally capable of enjoying the “moment” (focusing on a thought or activity at every instant) and planning for their dreams simultaneously.   You either follow a plan or are forced to live the moment.  Schools institutions proclaim that their purpose is to prepare students for the future; implicitely, schools want to teach students to plan ahead and receive the necessary skills to fulfulling “future” plans.  There are institutions that disseminate this lie that they are encouraging individual reflections and training students acquiring individual confidence in their potentials.  Mostly, institutions are established to graduate cogs in the institutional machine system, regarless of the implicit philosophy of the system.

Student are not trained to enjoying the moment; schools implicitely believe that “enjoying the moment” is the main characteristic of children and thus, children do not need any conscious effort or training to be happy at any single moment.  I would be thrilled to hear a school claiming that its goal is teaching students to enjoying the moment: children are smart enough to feel that institutions are explicitly preparing them to plan through tightly programmed curriculum no whatever they claim otherwise.  It would still be a great breakthrough when any schooling institution becomes conscious of the necessity of teaching students of the skills of enjoying the moment.




May 2020

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