Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dear friends Riad Ba`albaki (seen above) and Rami Zurayq visited the village of Qulaylah south east of Tyre 10 days ago. They took pictures of my aunt Nadya's house. She died last year. In 1982, when our neighborhood in West Beirut was bombed by Israeli occupation forces (and an adjacent apartment building was leveled to the ground by Israeli concussion bombs, smashing humans into the rubble), we relocated to Hamra in Ras Beirut. When the bombing intensified, my late father's friend (Amin Gemayyel, I must confess), invited the family to stay at Al-Bustan Hotel in Bayt Miri (north East of Beirut). My sister and I did not want to go, so we went instead to Qulaylah and stayed with my aunt. I spent long and difficult days (for 2 months it seems) under Israeli occupation, greatly aggravating my aunt in the process with my vast consumption of water. Most of my days were spent on the second story balcony (seen above): I devoured newspapers, and listened to Radio Monte Carlo. (I still remember a jingle for a Toyota commercial that ran on the radio before every newscast; it went like this: Toyata Tusawi Waznaha Dhahaban (Totyata equals its value in gold). Oh, and I sometimes watched the thuggery of Israeli occupation troops and their surrogate militia, the South Lebanon Army. The main collaborator with Israeli occupation in the village (who owned a shop just across from the balcony, and whose hands I refused to shake even when he visited my aunt), was shot a year after the invasion. The village, just like all other villages in South Lebanon, has been successively bombed by Israel over the years and decades, and the village was severely damaged in this round of Israeli war on Lebanon. (The quality of the pictures is poor because Riad pressed the video button by mistake).