Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Jabbour Douweihy

306.  Turkey and Iran: Same and Different (April 26, 2009)

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


308.  Modern Day Crusaders: The Ashkenazi Spearhead (April 27, 2009)


309.  “Ain Wardet” (Village) by Jabbour Douweihy (Book Review, April 27, 2009)


310.  Love: Women in Islam (Part 9, April 27, 2009)


311.  China and India Empires: Same and Different (April 28, 2009)

“Ain Wardet” (Village) by Jabbour Douweihy (Book Review, April 26, 2009)


Note: I like a novel to be told chronologically; Ain Wardet was not; it is in Arabic and was translated into French.  I could not read it in one trait but as I finished the third of the story then I knew that I had to review it.  A general event becomes a particular one; a common person takes the dimension of an individual. I started taking notes knowing that the review will be in chronological order, no matter what: the reader of review needs clarity before he gets excited to venture on the original manuscript.


It is the family of Al Baz (Hawk) that immigrated to Egypt and settled in Alexandria; it made a fortune and got bankrupt as the price of cotton plummeted.  The grand parent Francis Senior remembered that he had a country of origin and relative in Lebanon and they returned home.  Francis Sr. built a large house in the mountainside village of Ain Wardet (Rose Eye or Rose Fountain) and close to the Capital Beirut.

The Al Baz carried on the traditions and celebrations of Alexandria for many years and clung to friends from Alexandria.  They could speak Egyptian Arabic slang but wrote in French.

The first generation of Al Baz is of Francis Jr., Massoud, and Nouhad.  Massoud was simple minded and pissed anywhere outside when the urge demanded.  Massoud predicted his death to the hour and removed all the patron saints pictures in his room before he died; for example, Saint Joseph disliked people who never used the proper tools.

Nouhad was a tiny spinster that played the matriarch and she maintained the household and the family “status and honor”.  At the end of any serious disagreement with the family she would declare “If I am a burden then I am going up to pack and leave”.  Nouhad was a prude girl and never admitted that girls should entice men for marriage because either you fall in love or you don’t.  She ended suffering from Alzheimer and moved to a retirement community in Bhorsaf.

Francis was led by the director of the internal security to believe that he would be candidate to the parliament on the list of the President of the Republic.  In return, Francis had to accommodate an Arab tribe in his basement that moved from Syria and were given Lebanese citizenship.  Consequently, Francis would have the authority to buy and sell over 200 heads of the eligible tribal members at election times.  As the patriarch of the tribe told it the tribe was located in Mohammara near Homs.  One morning an infant stopped suckling and cried pointing westward. The tribe took down the tents and moved for months, guided by the baby’s finger, until they reached a mountain side in Lebanon; then, suddenly the baby stopped crying and his smile showed his only two front teeth.

Francis married Julia of Beirut.  Julia was the only kid in her family and educated at a French nuns school; the French Admiral would arrive with his fleet as her dad was in Jerusalem trading gold.  Nouhad had no liking for Julia and saw to it that no furniture should be displaced.  Francis had Joujou, Rida, and Sara.

Joujou was over 35 when he married Marguerite, a very young Austrian girl studying archeological artifacts in Lebanon during summer.  Rida was a master chess player, aloof, and strong headed; at the age of 10 Rida demanded his own chair at the dining table; he wrote and posted the dishes that he didn’t like, and the family did its best not to antagonize Rida.  Sara married a Moslem contractor working in Kuwait.

By the time the civil war in Lebanon started the family was already financially broke but the house and the land could not be sold; a special contract called “Progeny inheritance” with clauses that postulated that only the third generation could dispose of the property or any function made of it.  This clause prevented Marguerite to carry on her dream project of transforming the first floor as European restaurant.

Rida fell in love head over toe with Nadia and they began reading the 7 volumes of Marcel Proust’s “Reminiscence of lost times”.  I will skip this enchanting tale of love story.  Nadia died of car accident and Rida decided to isolate in his room.  The war trauma generated whiteness in Rida’s fingers that progressed to cover his face.  I will skip the corny tale of Rida encounter of the Arab “Femme Fatal” who was abused by her brothers for gain.  I have already published a chapter of the war events under the title “Siege Attitudes…”  Good reading.

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.




June 2023

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