Monday, August 14, 2006

Thoughts and questions from a Lebanese friend


From Tina Naccache in Beirut after a month of war...

i am cooking... daily...yesterday i bought okra. our okra is of a small size, an inch long at best. most of what i had were smaller. i hadn't cooked okra in ages...it takes such a long time to prepare. one needs to shape the head of the vegetable, one by one.

so yesterday i turned the radio on. hezballah's station. and just listened to the nationalistic songs and shaped the heads of the okra. if i were a musicologist i would study all those songs. there is quite a variety. there are some that must be of Palestinian descent. resistance and more resistance. and then there are the Maronite ones, resistance and more resistance. the anti-Syrian... the anti-someone. the sophisticated Sunni. resistance and more resistance. the Hezballah ones, resistance and more resistance. machismo at its best. mix of military music, most probably European.. mix of Dabke, our national dance, the national dance from here to Iraq. the Hezballah station and the Michel Aoun station play practically the same songs. but there are so many. how could we have been so prolific?

there is one that i like, it tells the fighter to take its sword and its banner. then i think of our national anthem that states that we fight with our sword and our pen. fighting...adrenaline. struggles...more adrenaline...occupation. invasion...underdog...more adrenaline...we are better...we are best. and the heads of the okra went chop chop...but not vulgary decapitated...decapitated with style.. .shaping it like a cone. going to the last in the blue plastic bag...till the tiniest..

i can't throw away any one. displaced people are hungry. people are dying out of hunger in china. finish your plate. when all and everything will calm down, will i remember to eat the not-perfect romaine leaf as i do today remembering the hungry? will i stand up against every single injustice as i wish the entire world to stand up for us? hardly. i am not inviting displaced people to share this beautiful space i own. i am not perfect and i have to live with that. there is a limit to my goodness. there is a limit to my generosity.

but what is generosity that has a limit? is it still generosity? what is goodness that has a frame when it should be endless? and what is it to state that it hurts me to be imperfect? what arrogance. it brings to my mind my questions about saints. is it arrogant to want to be a saint? how did saints live with their perfection?

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