Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘bananier

 Julia recollects: “How I fell in love and selected my husband…”

In those days, people and future couples constructed a love story: they were unable to intimately meet, talk and express their feeling except through the eyes and a few gestures.

An older friend of father recounts that, once they were passing by my mother house, Geryes told father to remove his shoes lest Adel hear them. Adel was the aunt (sister of Eugenia, mother of Julie) and her house was across the street, and she kept an eagle eye on any intruder where the four sisters lived alone. Father found this advice pretty relevant and acceded to the request.

Eugenia and Tanios worked in Africa (current Rep of Mali) to eek out a living.

As WWII ended and travel lines were opened, Julie’ dad asked for her and her two younger sisters Maria and Montaha to join the family in the town of Segou, in West Africa. Segou is in current Rep. of Mali and was a French colony till 1962.

Apparently, Julia’s father had lined up two prospects for marrying Julia without her knowledge.

The trip from Beirut to Marseilles (France) took an entire month, and mother was so seasick that she couldn’t swallow anything. The Captain alluded that Julia will not make it to destination.

A month later, Julia and her sisters left on a rickety plane from Agadir and barely made to Dakar (Senegal)  and to Segou by train and cars.

About a month before Julia left Beirut, Georges had travelled to join his family in Segou.  Georges’ ship landed first in Cyprus, then to Alexandria before resuming the travel to Marseilles. Georges boarded a “bananier” or a cargo ship for banana to Dakar and then by cargo train to Segou.

Julia’s mother opened a shop for selling almost everything that could be sold and her 2 daughters Maria and Therese took over the running. Julia barely set foot in the shop.

There were deep enmities and animosity between the Georges and Julia’s  families: Julie’s father Tanios Gebrayel considered the other family (the Bouhatab) to be plainly a lazy lot and that nothing good will ever come from them. (These 2 families are from the same town of Beit Chabab)

Tanios was not far off the target in his assessment from facts and evidences: the father of Georges (Antoun) was known Not to care for business and his wife didn’t care for raising her children (Many died in childbirth or shortly after as was  very common). Actually, my dad worked hard in the next 20 years and then reverted to his genes. Same case with me.

Julie’s dad disagreed with any marriage arrangement with Georges, although he knew that “I loved him and will refuse any alternative arrangement”.

Julie said “Father brought me an eligible handsome and tall guy, but I faked to be busy and never met him”.

She resumed: “I asked Georges to rent a room in the hotel in front of our shop in order to distance himself from his family. The next day, Georges packed a suitcase and moved in a room”.

Georges crisscrossed West Africa for a suitable location to settle with his future bride but could find nothing but a shack in the town of Bouake, kind of 100 km from Segou and leading to Haute Volta (current Burkina Faso). You had to use a barge to cross the river since no bridge was available at the time.

Julia convinced her dad to meet once with Georges and he changed his opinion: “Seemed a nice and intelligent guy”

Georges’ family refused to attend the wedding despite several attempts by many people. And Julie’s father had to pay for all the expenses of the wedding ceremonies.

Note 1: Mother was 8 months in her pregnancy when two problems happened simultaneously. Georges had to undergo surgery of the appendix, which turned out Not to be the case, and all the saved cash was stolen in the shop at night.

I came to life in dire conditions. I was born upside down, feet first, and I was blue and barely breathing. I would not eat or take the tits and the physicians took me for a goner. Mother would lie to the doctors saying that “I managed to suck some milk”. I’m sure the physicians never believed mother’s assertions but they had to deal patiently with such cases of insane mothers under grave situations.

Note 2: Gerges passed away in 2014 on Christmas Eve after being bedridden for 2 years. Mother and I took turn to change him, clean him and feed him while on oxygen machine. and with frequent electrical interruptions. Mother suffered from back pain but Georges was relentless in following his routine to the minutes.

Note 3: Julia/Julie passed away in January 2020 and suffered constant pains for an entire week, and Not from from cancer.

Note 4: Julia https://wordpress.com/post/adonis49.wordpress.com/2659


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September 2020
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