Nov 19, 2016

When Aly found Marie

Not so long ago, particularly in one of my summer trips to Lebanon, I meet a woman called Marie, she endlessly wept as she was telling me . It was then when she hit me with the worst, as she was heartbroken over the fact that her son would be 62 the next day. I didn't get it, and upon me asking why is this making her so sad, she frantically said "he's been missing since 37 years now".

News got on social media through the below post, and it took some time before it got some interaction and, only in March 2016 had the story's exposure started to pick up. Many people shared the story, some of them recognized Marie (or somebody who looked similar, or had a similar story), but then there was only this guy, Aly, who was literally head-first in the story, he left me wondering what's in it for him as he was privately messaging me over the course of the next two months on the updates of his search.

Some time passed and I had not realized at all, that Aly had never forgotten about Marie, until just yesterday where he pops up saying "We Found Her". My heart was on cloud 9 that same moment, I just couldn't believe it. It felt as if I had been waiting for that update since forever now.

However charming and magnificent this update might sound, we're still on the shore nevertheless. First of all the only sort of help that could bring Marie back to life is putting all efforts into investigating in her son's fate. A closure for a grieving person like Marie can mean the whole world, can even be more important than her own life. I still remember her telling me of how unimportant food was, if it weren't for a few good church servants who'd offer her a meal or two weekly. Second sort of help can be, of course, by providing her with a sturdy and coherent source of shelter and income, so that she wouldn't have to beg taxi drivers to drive her somewhere for free.

And last but not least, if there was anything that shook our hearts with Marie's story is the fact that there still are thousands and thousands similar brokenhearted mothers and wives out there in this damned country, forever grieving their loved ones waking up each day wishing for a closure. And I had not seen one politician do anything in that measure. It's time we woke up and grew some guts in that sense, Marie and all the other mothers certainly deserve to live the rest of their lives peacefully.

I will keep you updated as Aly will meet Marie very soon, there might be some ways we could all help.

"Heartbreaking , closure is important , it is a daily torture to live with the questions that have no answers , is he alive ? Is he dead? How ? Where? When? A mother's heart will never forget or let go , it will forever beat with the aching endless love for her kids !"Latifa El Hinnawi 

Nov 10, 2016

Tripoli Recites, by Zeina Hachem Beck

This is a post about how small the earth is. Back in my UAE days I learn there's a poetry gathering in Dubai, a couple hours away from where I lived. I contacted the organizers only to know they were Lebanese, she was Lebanese as a matter of fact. It was only her, Zeina, who was in charge of it all and that event happened to be the season finale before their summer/fall break. Knowing the curator of PUNCH (see here) being Lebanese, and later on finding out she's also from Tripoli was a blast. I do have a handful of friends from Tripoli too, some living abroad, but they all have this in common: they have started a poetry collective wherever they are. Samer Annous, assistant professor at the university of Balamand, has been famous for running those monthly poetry gatherings in Mina, particularly every first Wednesday of a new month. Sara Sibai has blown minds with her spoken word poetry, and keeps on doing so. She is now curator of the Beirut Poetry Slam, and also took part previously in initiatives such as the Soapbox Society.

Back to Zeina, that veteran Tripolitan, wife, and mother of two adorable daughters, had found it best to start what is known now by PUNCH: Dubai-Based Poetry and Open Mic Collaborative, probably the only of its kind in all of the emirates. I met Zeina the first time, during their season finale event where they gathered some of the most profound spoken-word artists ever. Some of them had moved us to tears, while some others swept us off our feet with their mesmerizing performances of love, deceit and so much more, some others were so great at filling the whole lounge with giggles and laughter, however.

I like to celebrate people of this kind, the sort that brings other people together, that brings other energies together in one spot and moves on with it, shapes it up and brings it up to the world in an unprecedented way. Zeina's poetry slams have received much praise by Dubai-based and international media, aside from being praised for her own work, being an accomplished poet and spoken word artist. It might be highly relevant, too, to mention that I'd heard of Zeina through her previous work with my beloved Fayha Choir, in an outstanding performace called 3Araby Song (video below).

Long story short, Zeina is going back home tomorrow, for her second solo performance in Tripoli, in Warche-13 in particular, the gorgeous newly-opened cultural venue in Mina. Event details can be see here on Facebook, and will launch at 7.00pm sharp. The event will be followed by a book signing.