Dec 21, 2012

Digging For Lost Voices

Little did I know that my night would be so fruitful. Who would expect to meet a stranger on the street, seeing him pull over with that wonderful smile on his face only to tell you his story with that passionate dreamy look in the eyes of a 40-year old man. I never knew I would meet a person whose story was a perfect match to mine. How would I have known that we’d meet a bunch of dreamy and glamorous guys wanting to join efforts and having so much bright ideas to share with us. This, and much much more, had happened on the night of December 19th.

Free Huggers chose that date for a second round of the “Tell me your story” initiative, the first is the one I missed. Everything was new to me, the way we should hold the signs, the way our answers should be wrapped and the limit we should abide by. Thankfully Sandy and Bilal were courteous enough to give me a heads-up of what they thought was best to do, as a result to the first experience.
PS: I really had a hard time taking photographs of the people we interviewed. It felt really inappropriate.

Saddened Offspring

I chose a high concrete slab, that of the traffic police, to stand upon and hold the signs up high; Bilal and Sandy followed my lead as well. Traffic was overwhelming, too many people had noticed us, but that wasn't enough: we needed pedestrians. Having changed location, our first interviewee had come across our point. I saw Abbas strolling in front of us, hesitating whether to ask or to just spend the next few minutes waiting for his bus to take him home after his second job, just like any other day. “Who are you?” was his first question. Having admired our answer, being anonymous people with good intentions, and wanting to hear people’s stories, he finally spoke. His first few sentences were mere complaints on the general situation we live in, how we’re not earning what we’re worth, and how life can be unfair. Words kept coming out until I caught that tone, the tone of being angry with his parents, wanting to take revenge maybe, or at least feeling oppressed in his life having no other option but to blame them. I knew exactly what to ask, what to say and with what tone, eventually he was a bit relieved, but what totally surprised me was him wanting to join us for a few minutes until the bus came. And believe me, the bus passed by more than twice while Abbas was smiling and holding the sign on that crossroad at Sassine, Beirut.

Mr. Smith

I wasn't surprised later on by the repetitive reactions we get from bypassers when first asked to tell their “stories”, while all we could get was nagging on the current situation on the country, until I met an old man in a coat holding that umbrella. He looked like a poor old man, his way of walking and the incline of his back told me he was tired of this life, and his smile was reassuring he was a precious human being not to waste at all. Of course his first few words were complaints, followed by amazing words that really left me shocked:
Wanna know the answer to all this messed up situation? The Army service should return to being obligatory just like before. Yes, believe me when I tell you this, the army is the solution, a country with no army is no country, I am a dentist don’t be fooled
And fooled I was, for at least 10 seconds afterwards, during which Mr. Smith - as I figured he'd be called in an imaginary movie inside my head - just dragged his feet along the wet path and vanished into darkness.

An Untold Story

Sandy called me from a distance telling me to check out this lady in the passenger seat of a taxi. We ran there curiously to listen to that woman’s cheering and words of praise, but when asked to tell us her story she managed to avoid going into that. Her overly large smiley and happy face is something I won’t forget
Along the course of the four of us being there, a young man in his warm cloak was wandering the area around us. His curiosity lead him to his first contact with me. “what are you doing?” he asked. “My story would make you crazy, you won’t believe me I swear, you won’t”.. Upon insisting to hear what he had to say, he found no other answer but to walk away. I often kept visually chasing the bypassers and would occasionally spot the man. To be truthful, he wasn’t the only one who thought his story was of no value to others, at least four others had the same reaction, but this guy was something else. He was not normal, he had cried so many times to the point you could see the blankness in his eyes. If there was anything that I wish I could’ve changed that night, was listening to this person.

End of Part One

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