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Dalal Farah Baird, She did it Her Way

Posted on February 6, 2013 by Noor Harb,
Dalal Farah Baird, born in Damascus and raised in Zahleh (Wadi El Arayesh), is the mother of two daughters, and she has suffered the loss of her youngest one, Nadia.  Dalal has however chosen to turn her suffering into creativity and her loss into action.
Her first art exhibition at the Artwork Shop in Hamra, Beirut was titled “Cell-Abration” in memory of Nadia.

Dalal Farah Baird, She did it Her Way“I can remember you and only that you’re gone Or I can cherish your memory and let it live on”

“I chose not to sit in the corner and feel sorry for myself, but to go on doing what she wanted me to do; I chose to celebrate Nadia’s life instead of mourn her loss”.

Despite the challenges that she faced in life, Dalal was able to wear different hats and adapt quickly to all situations no matter their color.  Upon the start of the civil war in Lebanon, Dalal moved with The Ford Foundation to Aleppo, Syria where the organization started operating from.

It was tough times being away from her sick mother and at times not able to communicate with her family in Zahleh to find out whether they were still alive.

Life went on for Dalal the chameleon “I married an English man and lived in Beirut for a while until it was no longer safe as they were kidnapping westerners at that time. I got pregnant with Amanda so we moved to London, lived there for a while and then relocated to Istanbul, Turkey where we lived for 2 years.  The decision then came to migrate to Australia were we lived in different cities (Perth, Brisbane, South Coast and Sydney)”.

Dalal got pregnant for the second time, conceived another beautiful daughter, Nadia whom she named after her mother.

“Things did not work out with my husband and we divorced.  I raised the two girls on my own. This was quite challenging since you have to deal with both cultures: Lebanese and Australian.  I was raised on values which were considered uptight or “uncool” by my kids who adopted the western way of life”.

Being a parent, let alone a single parent did not change the nature of Dalal. She remained a chameleon changing and re-inventing herself.

She gave her girls unconditional love and while allowing them some freedom, she always emphasized that she trusted them.  Instead of turning off an unhealthy Television show the girls were watching, she would sit and watch it with them so she knows what ideas were being planted in their heads and so that she knows how to channel these ideas.

Dalal was a loving mother, and a smart father, who raised her daughters to be independent and encouraged them to explore what life has to offer.

As Dalal became stronger, life became tougher.

Dalal had to accept a job offer in Papua New Guinea and had to leave her teenage daughters alone: “I left the girls on their own.  It wasn’t easy although they were responsible girls. I used to ring my daughters every night, and visit them every 3 months.

That tortured me but I had no option. Years later I had to apologize to them because they had it tough.”

Dalal was prepared for life at a very young age, and was fully aware of the unlucky events that present themselves for every human being. She thought she was fully immune to all of life’s hardships and that her belief system will help her overcome life’s challenges; nothing however could prepare a mother for the loss of her child.

Nadia was a bright student and very much loved by both students and teachers.  She was 23 years old studying media and journalism in England, and she was due to receive the Ernest Petrie scholarship the day after she passed away.

She suffered from epilepsy but ironically her death was caused by suffocation as a result of a seizure. “Her time was up”.

I heard this in movie Nadia and it made me think of you. A shooting star is wonderful.  When it shoots across the sky it lights the whole world up and the other stars just stop and stare.

Shooting stars are only here for a brief moment but those that get to see one never forget and their spirit is forever touched.” Wrote Anna-Belen Fernandez

Dalal had to camouflage into yet another color, a color that has no light, a color that everyone fears, the color BLACK.

Here is why the story of Dalal is a story everyone can learn from and get inspired by.   Dalal was devastated at her daughter’s death but she couldn’t allow herself to mourn and be paralyzed.  She chose instead to celebrate Nadia’s life.

The eulogy was turned into a celebration were Dalal focused on how lucky she was having Nadia for 23 years, and how lucky she was being her mother for 23 years.

That same year, Dalal went with her eldest daughter Amanda to Barcelona (as it was previously planned to visit Nadia while she was there as an exchange student).  “We decided to go ahead with our plans as if she was still alive. I still sign the cards with the three names Dalal, Amanda and Nadia.”

There Dalal visited Picasso and Dali’s museums. She came back inspired, picked up the brush and started painting again. Dalal called her paintings “The Rainy Nights”.

“I had stopped painting after my divorce, but Nadia always encouraged me to try again, so I picked up the brush and I painted after her death.”

Dalal took the path less traveled, which made her an artist whose art belongs to everyone, and the philosophy behind it to the only ones who reveal it.   Her first art exhibition at the Artwork Shop in Hamra, Beirut was titled “Cell-Abration” in memory of Nadia.

“I could’ve focused on what happened to me and it would have made me miserable but I am grateful to have Amanda whose strong character has inspired me and helped me carry on.   I decided instead to monitor my thoughts and choose the positive ones.

It is easier said than done and it takes guts to unlearn old habits that no longer serve us and to make room for learning new things, but it works.

Our cells receive orders from our thoughts and react accordingly. Why make our life miserable and have health problems when we can control all of that?”

Looks like there’s more to this chameleon than just changing colors; for somewhere in the heart of black a rainbow bloomed with all its brightest shades. Through her art troubles melted like lemon drops and Dalal bloomed like Cherry blossoms in an everlasting spring.

Noor Harb

Note: The melody of Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” was borrowed from the french song “Comme d’habitude” by Claude Francois

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Woody Allen Speaks Out on the Sunday Review (nyt) this Feb 7, 2014

If you need an introduction read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/sexual-abuse-woody-allen-allegations-facts-adoptive-kids/

Last Sunday, Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. Mr. Allen has written the following response to the column and Dylan’s account.

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought.

We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy.

The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail.

After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.

Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry (his other adoptive kid Soon-Yi?)— that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined. Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested. Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story.

The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t.

Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused.

I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence.

Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here:

It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992… In developing our opinion we considered 3 hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements.

First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her;

Second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and

Third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow.

While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Could it be any clearer? Mr. Allen did not abuse Dylan; most likely a vulnerable, stressed-out 7-year-old was coached by Mia Farrow. This conclusion disappointed a number of people.

The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, “we will probably never know what occurred.”

But we did know because it had been determined and there was no equivocation about the fact that no abuse had taken place. Justice Wilk was quite rough on me and never approved of my relationship with Soon-Yi, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was then in her early 20s.

Wilk thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.

In fairness to Justice Wilk, the public felt the same dismay over Soon-Yi and myself, but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted. (Incidentally, coming on the heels of the media circus and false accusations, Soon-Yi and I were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts, and everyone blessed our adoptions.)

Mia took custody of the children and we went our separate ways.

I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.”

I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge.

Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession.

“Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.

Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root?

Is it any wonder the experts at Yale had picked up the maternal coaching aspect 21 years ago?

Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe.

The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.”

It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.”

One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear.

There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.

After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair. Here I quote Moses Farrow again:

Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.

Finally, does Mia herself really even believe I molested her daughter? Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Of course, I did not molest Dylan. I loved her and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being.

Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman, and Soon-Yi and I are both hoping that one day she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way.

No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing.

This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.

Woody Allen is a filmmaker in New York City.


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