Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Choukeir

First Anniversary: I married wordpress.com; (September 18, 2009)

 

            Thursday, September 18, 2008The weather is mostly cloudy. I borrowed “Chroniques de Gaza” by Caroline Mangez at a private library. I removed to my study around 3 pm and saw my niece Joanna working on her portable.  I reminded her that she promised to aid me open a blog; she selected wordpress.com on account that it is the most visited site. I sat by her side and we went through the queries. My site is adonis49.wordpress.com; the affix 49 is the year of my birthyear since Adonis was already taken.

            I tried to start publishing articles on my blog of wordpress.com but the internet was acting up as I clicked on “publish”.  I was wondering: “This might turn out to be a time consuming process of publishing what I have written”. It took me over an hour just for one article to go. Once I had ironed out the process I spent a hectic week publishing over five years of unpublished pieces of articles, book reviews, short stories, and novels.  The published materials amounted to 600 posts: I had subdivided chapters of my novels to quicken the process. 

            I learned later that I should have subdivided even further so that readers won’t have to suffer more than two pages at a time.  I also learned much later that it is preferable to assign a new title to every post and not the easy alternative of patching up part 1, part 2, or continue 1, continue 2, and the sort.  Thinking up new titles are fun and a great learning processes.  I discovered the value of assigning new titles for posts that did not generate hits: people have so many choices of posts to read that they prefer catchy titles.

            In this year I added over 600 new posts to the ones I had written previously and generated 16,000 hits.  Laws do not fail very often: maybe 20% of my posts generated 80% of hits even if I disagree with my readers on the value of their choices.  Laws do not fail very often but when they do it is catastrophic; scientists, and especially financial analysts, fail to consider seriously the rare events and their dangerous potential consequences.  They just take the easy way out by focusing on the average or most likely events. The latest financial crash is a striking example; it is not as if the financial analysts didn’t know about rare events: they preferred not to be considered the black sheep of doom.  It is so much nicer to collect easy bonuses and let others suffer.

            Actually, I am under the impression that a dozen of posts or 1% are generating a fourth of the total hits. Thus, I may retire for a whole year and still generate a substantial number of hits; that is not my purpose: I want people to read good stuff.

            By and by I increased the number of categories to reach 25; if it were feasible to edit and re-shuffle the names of my categories I would have gladly invested time of this important factor.  I would appreciate some aid in that domain.

            Nick was very helpful in sending me a link to widgets when I asked for his advice to simplify navigating my cumbersome blog.  So far, widgets have been great for my own navigation; I do not doubt that they’ll be helpful for my readers.  So far, my posts do not include pictures or video: I lack the equipments and the patience for this important improvement.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I am not so sure; it might be correct for the lazy minds or those who are more inclined to visual information.  Anyway, rest assured that in due time my pictures would not be “stand-alone” dumb medium such as “No Comment”.  Expressing your feelings, ideas, and opinions in words are great exercises for your own benefit: you refresh your memory and re-structure your ideas for better explanation and exposition.

            I received a new release on life this fabulous year; discovering a free publishing site is like receiving grace.  I need to read more so that I can publish at least one post a day; usually, I publish 10 posts per week. I learned to be concise and not surpass 1,000 words per posts.  Thus, long articles are divided into parts with new titles.  Every now and then, I regroup the parts into one lengthy article with a new title: it is beneficial to me to re-edit the main topic and present a comprehensive article for later use.

            An excited reader was overwhelmed by the diversity and wealth of my book reviews in topics and in foreign sources (I do read and write in three languages Arabic, French, and then English); she encouraged me to patronize her site; she failed to know that I am a novice navigator and that I have no patience whatsoever for net navigation.  I like hard cover materials.  Bref, I sent her a message telling her that all that I have is a word processor; all that I know to do is to store my pieces on a USB and then locate an internet provider to publish my posts. I hope that I finally nailed down this troublesome acronym USB: I kept saying UBS until my nieces and nephews got bored of correcting me. I sometimes insist on UBS to express my displeasure for their behaviors.

            Yes, all that I do is read a lot and then jot down sentences and ideas on a sheet of paper: public power is out over 12 hours a day in this part of a country. Once the electricity is on then my article is done within half an hour. I quickly store my piece on a USB for fear that the power does not fail me again, as it so often do. It is not so hard publishing but the public power hardly will improve in the foreseeable future.  I firmly believe that if I enjoyed better amenities in electricity and equipments then my productivity might suffer accordingly.  It does not mean that those patronizing my blog should pray for my situation to last: that would be cruel and inhuman.  You might pray that I win big on the lotto or a publisher contacts me: I have so much to publish on hard covers: the medium that I cherish so much and that generates money.

            WordPress.com board of directors must start thinking seriously how to help us bloggers make money for our hard and consistent work.

Surprise audio-visual birthday gift? In Naass Forest

Note: Re-edit of “Naass Forest: surprise audio-visual birthday gift; (written in June 30, 2007 and posted on August 6, 2009)”

It is 8:40 a.m. and the weather is going to be hot and sunny.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and had to deal with mosquitoes: I had forgotten to tuck in the net before going to bed.  I lay in bed scratching, although I never heard any mosquito buzzing and it was hot.

I shaved and went back to bed for leisurely exercises, just to wake up satisfactorily.  I fetched the daily downstairs and found a few bags of leftover fruits and vegetables that my sister Raymonde left at the door for the chicken.

I had my coffee and read the daily as Raymonde returned from her morning walk.  I resumed my exercises and had a good bowel movement and I fed the chicken.  I watered a few plants and then I took a shower and started to pack my bag for the camping expedition.

I met my niece Adrea and she told me to be ready around 8 a.m. I saw Hanane riding off to purchase some grocery. Cedric has to work today and will not join us. Little Chelsea of 7 has scout in the afternoon.  Hanane has packed her car. Victor did not go to work yet. William stored a few water bottles in our freezer temporarily.

It is 9 and I am ready and we did not move. We left at 9:30 and I aided William carry the large ice box containing several iced water bottles and bags of peeled carrots, cucumber and “me2ty”.

We also packed several bags of apples and prunes and two empty Jerry cans and a large green tent “bache” that mother used to cover the carpets in the enclosed balcony.

We all carried our particular backpacks.  Hanane, Ashley, Adrea, and Chelsea had advanced us around 9 a.m.

The place is in a forest around Na3ess and the advanced team settled under a large Chestnut-like tree and I swept the place of leaves and dirt and, especially, cleaned the area of broken glass; hundred of tiny glass pieces from unscrupulous previous campers.

We spread six “katroun” cups of pine glue around the place to ward off scorpions and snakes.

William powdered chemicals on the floor to repel crawling insects.  We placed two special large cartons on the floor as carpet and we helped William cover the tent with the “bache”; it was a difficult and intricate job.

Around 2:30 p.m. Hanane and Ashley gave Chelsea a ride to her scout meeting in Beit Chabab, while we installed the six 3-feet tall bamboo sticks that end with a mesh dipped in kerosene, around the open tent for night lights; each stick costing 1,750 LL or a little more than a dollar.

When Hanane and Ashley arrived, we sat and passed around the bags of raw vegetables and fruits and raw peanuts; the crunching was pretty loud since this is what we were expected to eat: William planned to cleanse our system of poisons.

Yuhanna arrived around 4:30 p.m. bringing chips and a kite that Joanna sent him from London for his birthday.

We just made a vigorous run on the variety of chips and we went out to try the kite; William stayed to guard the tent and to meditate.

We failed to fly the kite and Yuhanna, Hanan and I tried our hands in many areas and many heights but we blamed our failure to the design of the kite and its fragility.

Adrea was not feeling well and barely was participating in our attempts to fly the kite and then she vomited all the vegetables; the most efficient system cleansing of poison.

Ashley and I helped Adrea walk and we returned to the tent.  William and Hanane drove off to bring Chelsea from the scout meeting.

Yuhanna handed Ashley, Adrea, and I copies of the lyric “Joanna gimme hope” by Eddy Grant, a south Africa singer, and the song had a reggae rhythm and Rastafarian pronunciation. It is a song about discrimination on grounds of race in South Africa and the chorus reads:

“Gimme hope, Jo’anna; hope, Jo’anna gimme hope, Jo’anna ‘fore the morning come.  Gimme hope, Jo’anna hope, Jo’anna, hope before the morning come.”

We followed the tape recorded song twice and we were excited and energetic.  William and Hanane returned with Chelsea. Yuhanna set up the camera and he recorded us singing the song with birthday outfits of plastic hats and “zammour”.

The song didn’t sound correct and was a total mismatch of sounds and timing in all aspects, but we had a lot of energy and good will.

Then Yuhanna distributed a cute survey questionnaire to fill for the birthday of Joanna on July 10.

Adrea was sleeping and didn’t participate in the whole charade.  Chelsea was harassing Yuhanna. And William ordered Chelsea to go home; he was taking her to the car and I decided to leave also. I took sick Adrea with me.

I helped Adrea walk and Hanane joined us.  We met William returning with Chelsea but we decided to go ahead and return home.  Hanane gave me and Adrea a ride in her car; we stopped at Basheer and had ice cream but Hanane decided to stick to the raw vegetables.

Hanane needed to use the bathroom and she was to show Carine the place on her return back to camp.  Adrea didn’t even speak to her mother Raymonde and she slept right away on the TV couch.

Raymonde was complaining about her husband Victor ruining her summer by taking on so many troubles after he retired.

I watched the evening news and had supper and removed to my study and connected and mailed Joanna and told her that Yuhanna is preparing her a video clip surprise.

I went up to Raymonde and she was watching a concert given by Star Academy last month in BIEL.

Victor came very late after 10 p.m. and he was terribly hungry. I watched a movie till 11:50 p.m. and spread my mosquitoes net to have a good sleep.  Cedric came from work after 3 a.m.

The next day Joanna told me that she was unhappy for telling her about Yuhanna’s surprise.

It is 11:30 a.m. and Cedric is driving off to work; he told me that the Zess Café serves Lebanese food and Italian ice creams imported directly from Italy and that the kitchen is not responding fast to the orders of the customers.

I went up to check if lunch was ready and it was not and ate a few pieces of “fatayer bi banadoura“. Raymonde saved 5 pieces that I carried with me to Na3ess for Chelsea.

I drove off at 12:30 p.m. to drop a borrowed book to the library of Beit-Chabab but it was already closed.

I went to Na3ess, (the guys slept over in the forest), and I filled 5 gallons of water from the fresh source and visited the camp.  They were folding camps on account that the weather is very cloudy, but I believe that they were exhausted.  David and his girlfriend were there and a friend of David.

As soon as they saw me everyone harassed me; they were asking me why I had to tell Joanna about Yuhanna’s surprise gift.

I was very surprised that Joanna would divulge my news so promptly and I felt embarrassed with Joanna “Em Khbaar“.  I believe she had a purpose for telling my news, and I don’t care anymore what were her purposes because I am not telling her anything anymore.

William insisted to knowing why I told Joanna and I said because I never had a surprise party and this is my revenge.

I returned home right away and didn’t forget to bring my sandals.  Adrea is watching a movie at our TV room and mom is sleeping on the couch.  I don’t feel happy today, first because of the dream and now because of Joanna’s treachery.

It is 2:15 p.m. and the gang arrived and they are unpacking and talking about going to eat outside later on. I am going up for a nap before the wedding ceremony that starts at six.

Note:  I should have given details of what wedding ceremony we were attending.  Now I have forgotten.

Trekking about Sadd Shabrouh; (Written Sunday, July 22, 2007)

Note: The description of the trip is extracted from my diary

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and the weather was sunny and hot. I read the daily “Al Balad” that we received for free for an entire year as a promotion campaign. I performed my exercises and fed the chicken.  Joanna was busy calling: she was programming a walking trip to “Sadd Shabrou7” around Faraya.  Joanna was also planning to end the day at Cherries’ for karaoke night in honor of her sister Ashley’s birthday.  She asked me to join the trekking expedition and I agreed.

I packed a spare of undershirt and socks and a light rain jacket and some biscuit and peanuts and I waited for everybody to be ready.  We waited for Ashley to come back from mass because she was not aware of this “surprise” excursion.  Cedric could not go because he hurt his fingers and the skin of his feet while playing wild basketball yesterday.

We drove off in two cars. Joanna took Ashley and retrieved Tony at St. Elie Movie Theater in Antelias. William took Adrea, Chelsea, David and I.

We met at Aoun supermarket in Zouk and they purchase a few items to eat; Adrea waited in the car in the under ground parking lot because she is pretty lazy.  We resumed our travel around 2 p.m. and William picked up Hanane at her home and we met at Yuhanna’s house in Ajaltoun.  From there, Yuhanna drove his car and carried Joanna, Ashley, Tony and Chelsea.

We arrived and parked our cars in the monastery parking lot and started our walk after getting some information and references from a passerby.  I wore a small towel under my cap and took the lead, hunched in a comfortable stature, and distanced the straggling group for 5 minutes and stopped and took off my top clothes and dried in the sun until they joined me.  I again advanced the group because I felt that keeping a fast and steady pace is relaxing for me, otherwise I will slacken off and my back might ache from slow walking.

I tried to investigate a promising path off the beaten road which was starting to bore me; Ashley asked me to backtrack.  It was a good path that ultimately would merge with the beaten road.  We waited for the rest to join us and it seems that Adrea had trouble with her shoes that she didn’t wear for quite a time.  I took the lead again and decided for another off path and William came after me, looking very frustrated and said that we should stick together as a group and keep to the road. 

William and I took short cuts to rejoin the group and then Joanna asked a driver for the best place to sit down near fresh running water and he gave her the direction of the path I had already climbed before William came after me.  Thus, we retraced our walk; I suggested a path among the apple groves but they decided to take short cuts and climb a hill which took my breath out and had to sit down for a couple of minutes to recover.

We reached an area with a small waterfall “shalal” and a flat rock with no trees around; Yuhanna and Joanna decided to go down among the apple trees to investigate the area.  It was the same apple grove that I intended to cross before I was desisted from in order “to stick to plan”.

Meanwhile, William climbed the rock opposite the road to check if there is a nice area and I removed my tops and my shoes and washed my face and dipped my feet in the icy trickle of water running across the flat rock.  David stored in the icy stream the amassed small apples and pears that he gathered from the trees and we also let our water bottles cool in the water.

I had a pear and enjoyed it. While the remaining group was anxious to go down to the apple grove where Yuhanna located a “nice place” to have lunch I felt as happy as a clam tanning in the sun, walking bare feet and cooling my feet and rubbing lavender flowers on my hands and having a smoke.

William was pounding on a stone and it turned out to be of silex and he wanted to transform it into a stone knife; he had seen a big silex stone, but when he climbed to retrieve it he could not find it again to bring it back.

Within 15 minutes Yuhanna asked us to join and we went down to another stream of running water among the apple grove and Yuhanna was frustrated with Chelsea because she was venturing far off the group.  We had lunch; the chips were first to go and Joanna prepared us cheese sandwiches and then we ended up with the Oriole biscuits and other kinds of chocolate covered biscuits; I had also raw peanuts and kept belching for the rest of the trip.

Joanna tried her hands with the kite that she had sent to Yuhanna from London; she failed to make it fly; David and William drenched Hanane with icy water. I had a comfortable nap while people were chatting away. Chelsea was a pain for the group in her wandering off, climbing and jumping off walls and rocks and being “har2a”; obviously a close second to my pain in the ass behavior for discovering new paths. We stayed and rested until 6:30 p.m.

The return path among the apple groves coincided with the path that I had suggested before we climbed the hill.  I took the lead again with Tony who was anxious to terminate the trip and I never stopped for an hour and a half.  William joined Yuhanna and Joanna to check on a camping area and Chelsea joined them.  After a while we saw Chelsea coming alone grim faced and clutching her right hand and not stopping to talk to us; she had hurt her hand and was furious with Yuhanna.

Ashley decided to walk with Chelsea for the remaining walking trip; Ashley was even jogging in order to advance me. I kept my fast steady pace and even jogged for a short distance but could not catch up with Chelsea and Ashley; thus, I arrived third to the parked cars.

William gave us a summary of the statistics of this trip, collected on his cellular; he walked 17,000 steps and the round trip was 11 kilometers and it took us 5 hours and a half, including the resting period, and the average speed was 5 kilometers per hour as a group.

At the suggestion of Yuhanna we had dinner at “Istira7at Al 3erzal” in downtown Farayat; I refilled many cups of hot tea. We had labheh, baked potatoes, homus and cucumbers.  I lent Hanane my light jacket to warm up; Chelsea would not relent and never gave the gang peace and quietude.  Tony brought up his dish to where we were sitting William and me, at the other end of the table.

Tony said that he usually sit in front of a wall at home to enjoy what he is eating; that when in groups people eat a lot without noticing; William agreed with Tony and I sat next to Tony and we had a cigarette (the only two smokers).

By the time we paid the bill of 40,000 LL ($25) around 10 p.m. (I didn’t pay a dime: I had none) most of the gang members were exhausted and sleepy. They decided to drop the karaoke part and go home.  I sat in the back seat: David needs to feel entirely comfortable; William was driving.

Chelsea made herself comfortable and slept on my lap while Adrea was sleeping in the other corner, all crumpled up; David was sleeping in the front.  I was feeling good and full of energy. We arrived at 11:30 and the public electricity was still out since noon.

Mother was awake because she watched the interview with General and Deputy Michel Aoun along with Raymonde and Victor till 11:30.  I watched TV till 12:30 a.m. David slept at Ashley’s. Ashley and Joanna gave Tony ride home.

Dysfunctional “Global Villages” or visual politics platforms; (July 26, 2009)

 

Hands off.

Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a message (Pope Jean-Paul II).  Nice try. What message again? We never believed in any message in the first place for us to transfer and disseminate our messengers.

 

Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a Carrefour of civilizations (Maurice Gemayel).  Nice try. What Carrefour again?  I see; a state of the art infrastructure with a Space Center; a human potential incubator for foreign investors to select from, use, abuse, and milk dry.

 

Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a project of communication facilitator, an audio-visual plateform (Joanna Choukeir). More likely a project that could fly. Sort of a guinea pig laboratory of dysfunctional people living in a dysfunctional barely “recognized” state to study the feasibility of a futuristic dysfunctional “Global Village”.

 

Lebanon is not a Nation: its leaders never believed it as such; they tailored made their concept of a State recognized by the UN.  Lebanon’s sectarian leaders lived the good life of organized chaos within their castes; they forced Lebanon’s citizens out in disgust; seeking the bare minimum of dignity and potentials for survival among stable societies with sustainable institutions. 

 

Lebanon is a comprador Carrefour; governments systematically taxing the poor with modern high tech taxing facilities to aid the comprador noble caste to fructify their businesses out of Lebanon. We are fleeing for individual professional recognition; we may receive recognition for anything but the dignity of a worthy society that could generate worthy citizens.

 

The cup of dignity always overflows of the spirit within. We have proven to be meant plain catalysts for potentials of change that could never materialize in a sustainable spiritual survival of any kind. Our thin and porous shell never protected; what was inside never germinated to full bloom; it disintegrated prematurely.

 

The only spiritual dignity left is growing in south Lebanon; the least attended to part by our successive governments because they gave up on that land since independence in 1943.  The disinherited neglected “citizens” of the frequently bombed and displaced land are returning, holding on in observation posts, monitoring the pre-emptive war plans of the enemy of occupation, resisting for a whole State in their trenches; never relinquishing their faith in a sovereign Nation commensurate to their worthy dignity.

 

Lebanon’s national resistance is setting the right tone and basis to satisfying a meaning of why Lebanon should exist among nations.  Lebanon the message, the Carrefour of civilization, of communication among cultures, and of human potentials could still be feasible if our internal enemies plainly desist of continuously maligning our resistance of liberation, land, and spirit. 

 

Hands off Lebanon; you foreign interests never had good intentions for Lebanon; save us your traveling officials.  We are to suffer another injury: the head of our Parliament want to save the Lebanese of the ignominies and the intricacies of forming a national unity government claiming that total blackout on news is the solution; as if our leaders are the ones suffering from insomnia, misery, and a bleak future.

A common sense project taking a life of its own, (July 26, 2009)

 Hands off Lebanon.

“Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a message” (Pope Jean-Paul II).  Nice try Pope for your optimism! What message again? We never believed in any message in the first place, for us to transfer and disseminate our messengers.

“Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a Carrefour (cross-road) of civilizations” (Maurice Gemayel).  Nice try Maurice. What Carrefour again?  I see; a state of art infrastructure with a Space Center; a human potential incubator for foreign investors to select from, use, abuse, and milk dry.

 “Lebanon is not a Nation: it is a project of communication facilitator, an audio-visual platform” (Joanna Choukeir). More likely a project that could fly. Sort of a guinea pig laboratory of dysfunctional people, living in a dysfunctional barely “recognized” State to study the feasibility of a futuristic dysfunctional “Global Village”.

Lebanon is not a Nation, period.   The  “leaders” of Lebanon never believed this State as such; they tailored made their concept of a State recognized by the UN.  Lebanon’s sectarian leaders lived the good life of organized chaos within their castes; they forced Lebanon’s citizens out of its borders, in disgust; “citizens” with barely a passport seeking the bare minimum of dignity and potentials for survival among stable societies with sustainable institutions. 

Lebanon is a comprador Carrefour; governments systematically taxing the poor with modern high-tech taxing facilities, to aid the comparator noble caste to fructify their businesses out of Lebanon. We are fleeing for individual professional recognition; we may receive recognition for anything but the dignity of a worthy society that could generate worthy citizens.

 The cup of dignity always overflows of the spirit within. We have proven to be meant as plain catalysts for potentials of change, which could never materialize in a sustainable spiritual survival of any kind. Our thin and porous shell never protected; what was inside never germinated to full bloom; it disintegrated prematurely.

The only spiritual dignity left is growing in south Lebanon; the region least attended to by our successive governments, because they gave up on that land since independence in 1943.  The disinherited neglected “citizens” of the frequently bombed and displaced land are returning, holding on in observation posts, monitoring the pre-emptive war plans of the enemy of occupation (Israel), resisting in the name of the entire State in their trenches; never relinquishing their faith in a sovereign Nation, commensurate to their worthy dignity.

Lebanon’s national resistance is setting the right tone and basis to satisfying a meaning of “why Lebanon should exist among nations”.  Lebanon the message, the Carrefour of civilization, of communication among cultures, and of human potentials could still be feasible if our internal enemies plainly desist of continuously maligning our resistance of liberation, land, and spirit. 

Hands off Lebanon: comprador, religious caste clerics, feudal lords… Your foreign interests parties never had good intentions for Lebanon; save us your traveling officials. 

We are to suffer another injury: the head of our Parliament wants to save the Lebanese of the ignominy and the intricacies of forming a national unity government claiming that “total blackout on news” is the solution; as if our leaders are the one’s suffering from insomnia, misery, and a bleak future.

Julia or Julie (May 1, 2009)

I happened to know Julia intimately: I was forced to observe her behaviors and sometimes succumb to her will.

Julia is the type of women who are always on alert; she is ultra prude and claims that she has never been on a beach or wore any kinds of swimming trunks.

Julie cannot sit down, relax, or let anyone relax.  She has to worry about everyone and everything.

Julia loves money but never handled money wrote a check or had a bank account: She is thrilled when she sees construction and buildings going up and sounds envious.

Yes, Julia has never set foot in a bank or wrote a check or withdrew money, I think.

Julia is an excellent cook, a talented dress designer (currently you say a fashion designer), and sew clothes to all her sisters, daughters… for every major event.

And loves to remodel the house when she can afford it, a gene that my sister inherited.

She wants her family members (especially the girls and ladies) to look as well dressed and as coquettish as she used to be; a tendency that forces her grandchildren and children to avoid passing by her when they have “sinned” against dignified fashion (like looking pretty nude).

Julia has humongous pride and she would not visit a patient or go to any anniversary when she cannot afford gifts (her unique daughter is taking after her in many ways).

If she receives a gift (and if she cannot afford offering a gift) then she has to rummage through her secret “depot” in one of the closets for a suitable counter gift.

Lately, cooking something for the returned dish is what she could offer. Julia believes that she knows something and has to offer her recommendations and guidance to people of professions, even if they are over sixty.

In 1939, Julia’s mother Eugenia left Lebanon to West Africa in order to join her husband Tanios in Segou (current State of Mali). The four sisters were left alone and joined a boarding school in Beit Chabab.

And the WWII started and they had to skip school for the duration.  The sisters did not attend school for 3 years during the war because all schools closed, although Lebanon was not directly affected.

The eldest sister Josephine was 13 and Julia 11 years old at the time.

Julia’s aunt and her extended family lived across the street. When Josephine eloped (got married “khatifeh“) at the age of 20 the other three sisters were re-interned in a school of Beit Chabab for two years.

The summer before the non-married daughters had to join their parents in Segou, they lived alone a mile away from Beit-Chabab (to what is now called Konetra) so that they don’t emulate their eldest sister in eloping.  In the meanwhile, Eugenia gave birth to many other children and at least three died in child-birth.

Julia once believed that she had scabies “jarab” when she was in a girl school in Beirut and aged 18 years.  Scabies was pretty common and when her between hand fingers  were itching she tried to cure herself secretly.

Julia told me said that “jarab” was very contagious; she secretly spent a whole week in an upper room at her sister Josephine’s who got married recently.  Julia said that nobody in the village knew about her ailment, a convenient assumption for this dreaded disease at the period, and she washed her clothes and bedding almost everyday.

This story came about when an overseas grand daughter called saying that her physician was uncertain about his diagnosis of her catching “jarab”; the diagnosis turned out to be wrong but it generated a secret story that Julia told me.

I really have no idea what Julia learned in school except cutting patrons and learning sewing and fashioning clothes. She always said that she got dizzy when reading.

Julia joined her parents in Africa by sea. The captain of the ship heading toward the port of Marseilles never believed that she’ll make it alive: Julia spent a month in her cabin unable to eat, drink or move because she suffered sea sickness.

Julia was as thin as a stick with a tough will for survival.

Any moving object makes Julia dizzy; heights make Julia dizzy; tree climbing is out of the picture.  Hell for Julia must be a rotating platform; worst, a wobbly, jerky, and seesaw habitat.

In fact, Julia never played games in school or anywhere else.

Physical games, especially for girls, are not dignified. Reading is extremely dizzying to Julia; watching someone reading intently must be giving Julia grounds to believing that the reader is “dizzy” in the head.

Julia married in Africa a handsome, loyal, over generous and devoted husband whom she fell in love in the same town in Lebanon before she travelled to Africa.

George must have sensed that he is marrying a handful of expectations and constraints.  Youth always turns a blind eye to potential troubles because youth can handle anything and never ages.

This valiant couple worked hard in harsh conditions as the sole white people in remote African villages.  They were robbed of every dime several times; once, in the town of Koutiala (Republic of Mali) and what they had saved was gone overnight; Julia was on her last week of pregnancy (of me) and George suffered kidneys problems out of grief.

Right now, when any neighboring house or shop is stolen Julia plays the investigator; everyone is suspect until the culprit is discovered: she does roam her house after every robbery story, checking exits and entrances; mouse and cats should no longer be susceptible to be entering the house.

Those 15 years in Africa must have been the best and most glorious years for this couple. They were the first to purchase an electric generators in the town of Sikasso.

This undaunted couple resumed their joint adventure to above average fortune.

Julia knew how to combine business with charity; she would offer every poor pregnant woman a “trousseau” for the new-born for free. Thus, she retained life-long customers and the competitors could not match her business acumen.

Julia sewed and altered dresses that she ordered by catalog from Paris.

When Julia returned definitely to Lebanon, her unique daughter among the other 2 boys, (well spaced them out in age, an advanced serious family planning), was never seen wearing the same dress twice in any ceremony.

Since two identical dresses take as much time to sew as one, then her niece Joelle was observed as a replicate twin, regardless of whether Joelle liked the dress or the color.

This couple was the first to install a generator for electricity in this remote town.  They transferred their three kids to boarding schools in Lebanon for fear of African diseases  because the eldest son barely survived Typhoid. And the couple would visit them one summer every two years.

Julia spent a month in Paris in 1980 to care for her first grandson William who had an open heart surgery at the age of 16 months.  William had a hole that mixed the blue and red blood in the heart and an artery that was twisted. The hospital offered a makeshift bed for Julia to sleep on for 23 days in William’s emergency room.

Julia also cared for Joanna, her favorite grandchild, for over 6 months when Joanna’s parents were in the USA on military training mission in 1985.

Joanna likes to return the favor and she volunteers to driving Julia to shrines such as Mar Charbel, Mar Rafka, and Harissa of the Virgin Mary; these are occasions for Julia to confess her grave sins for caring too much and doubting occasionally.

Julia spent 6 months in the USA in 1990 when I lived with my sister Raymonde’s family; Victor was then appointed Military Attaché to Lebanon for two years and Julia enjoyed that reprieve from war torn Lebanon and the constant blackmailing of the militias for more money when there was nothing to pay. She had to pawn her few gold rings or necklaces to appease the frightened husband.

Julia recalls that it was the hardest trip ever when she visited in the US: Victor had a terrible backache and she had to carry Victor’s bags which were packed with heavy gifts.

Julia is suffering from arthritis and a whole gamut of blood problems but she forces herself to work hard everyday as means to letting pain forget her.

She has excellent memory of ancient events.  Currently, she barely can recall names and I barely can come to the recall rescue.

Julia is currently prone to letting two casseroles burns and barely save the third: she cannot waste time and has to do several tasks simultaneously.

Julia cannot believe that she aged and has a wrinkled face. All mirrors must be destroyed but Julia would never break anything consciously.

George neither cannot believe that he aged; he just want to be left alone and not be immersed in problems that should not be of his concerns, especially that he is no longer a provider and almost destitute; but to whom are you chanting your psalms George?

George is happy to realize that his hearing is not that sharp and gets terribly frustrated when he has to repeat muted answers to Julia’s unending queries and requests.

Julia barely sleeps at night because in the solitude of the night her brain is working full-time inventing all kind of catastrophic events that might befall on any one of her extended family.

Her dreams are of the cataclysmic kinds, though one individual at a time, one dead person after another parading in succession in her dream.  Apparently, nights are more exhausting for Julia than charged days’ work.

When Julia walks out now she is constantly observing changes in her environment; such as the progress in the construction of the villa next door, the new design for neighbors gardens…

There was a time when Julia walked straight ahead and never deigning to turn her head:  She must have been convinced that she was the center of attention; she stepped out in utter elegance and vigorous gait.

Julia’s nemesis is death: when she gets upset from any member of the family she tends to ward off this fatal enemy by threatening: “This winter would be my last and you all would be delivered from my trouble making”. She has a white fancy gown stowed away for that occasion.  I hope that Julia has let someone on the proper location of the dress.

Julia is the strong type of women. Julia cannot be circumvented.

Julia is every bit on alert, the “mustanfara“, even at 83 years of age.  She is totally broke financially but that would not constitute a valid reason to let down her purpose in life: Keeping everyone on his toes.  Julia is my mother.

Note: Four years after writing this article Julia is unchanged: She is in much pain, more forgetful, and taking all kinds of medication, but Julia is undaunted. I realized that Julia is chatting far more than usual: She is thinking aloud, kind of her thinking keeps the right track if accompanied by words.

Julia wakes up at 6:30 am and begin her day, working non-stop till after 1 pm as her back aches and her fingers are crippled. Her husband, only 3 years older, doesn’t take any medication but his health is deteriorating fast and George is almost bed-ridden.

George is in  care and recovering. Julia refuses to go home to rest even for a couple of hours: She has to stay and sleep in the hospital room of her husband. The nurses tell Julia not to feed George what the hospital does not bring to eat, and I tell Julia not to feed George, and Julia believes she knows George better and what is good for George…

I tell Julia that George enjoys loneliness and would not recover as long as she never leaves his side and keeps chattering. Maybe I am wrong: I was showing George how to ring the nurses for emergencies and George chuckled softly and replied: “Why would I ring anyone when Julia is around?”

Julia is saying: “It was a good tradition to marry a husband at least 5 years older than you: So that the wife can care for him in old age...”. Joanna flew from London for a weekend just to give Julia  a boost. The moment Julia receives a boost, it sounds trouble for the extended family.

Note 2: Julia passed away at age of 92 on January 31, 2020 at 2 pm at the hospital of Beit-Chabab. Except for her heart, her vital organs started to fail. She endured unthinkable pains for an entire week, every minutes of it. She was Not feeling good before she fell in the bathroom trying to undress: there was no one at the time and I found her lying on the floor in great pain.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2021
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