Monday, 14 July 2014

السعادة هي

الأطفال, دائماً يذكرونني أن  كون افضل نسخة عن نفسي  كانسان.
الحيوانات, دواء للقلب, عندما لا احتمل أن اكون محاطة  بالناس ولا اريد أن اتفاعل اجتماعياً وأشعر بيأس, الحيوانات تهدئني.
ركوب الدراجة الهوائية, من جديد تعلمت كيف أركب الدراجة. شعور منعش, الهواء, الشمس, الحركة, السماء... أقرب شعور للطيران والحرية.
الأولاد بالحمرا, لقد أحببتهم. بعد خسارتي لسمر (طفلة رجعت الى سوريا حيث لاحقاً علمت انها توفيت) قلت لنفسي انني سأنشقّ عاطفياً ولن أتعلق بهم. لكن جائت الهام يوماً وجلست جنبي ووضعت رأسها على كتفي, قلبي انفتح من جديد, وعلمتني كيف أحزن أفضل.
الوقت الذي أمضيته ألعب مع الأولاد جعلني أنسى ان العالم ينهار, كنت سعيدة بوجودهم حولي.
أن أمشي حافية القدمين, ألمس الأرض وأركز على ملمسها.
الموسيقى الكلاسيكية, البيانو دائماً كان يجعلني أنتقل الى عالم آخر بثواني.
الباصات والفانات, الجلوس محاطة بأوجه مليئة بالتعب. شعور بواقعية الحياة. واذا تراقب جيداً, هناك دائماً قصة.
زيارة المناطق التي قيل لي عدم زيارتها لأسبب أمنية أو أخرى, والتفاعل مع السكان.
لدي الحشرية لاكتشاف النور بكل شيء, أي مكان ممكن أن أراه كقلعة.
قبلة, صوت, غمرة, ريحة, ضحكة من تحب. الحب.
الفواكهة, القهوة, الشاي, الباستا, والكوكيز.

على فكرة, سمر طلعت بعدها عايشة ورجعت على بيروت بس الهام رجعت على سوريا هذه المرّة.

Friday, 16 May 2014

not just overcoming


An attempt to let it out of my system, I am growing tired of cab drivers trying to harass me. written after an incident that happened couple of days ago.

I can’t feel, as if all my senses have been cut off

I am here but at the same time I am not.

I put effort to remember how good it felt to be touched, to be loved, but I can’t remember

I focus on the movement on my skin, on the texture, on the sound, but I am still not here, where am I?
I have the urge to harm myself to feel anything but I don't.
I think hard of the reasons, why am I shutting down?

Maybe I am too afraid to feel, because I am worried if I open that closet where I am hiding these feelings, they would fall on me and smother me and I won’t be able to breathe.

I am tired of dealing with it.

A voice in me asks me to speak; I try to connect what is happening with the other, tie the rope, so we won’t be disconnected, but my body fails me, my mind shuts down, I want to talk but I forgot how to speak.

I type, it is easier to type the letters and as I type, I gently open the door.

The anger, because that asshole is taking something good away from me, because would that asshole be less of an asshole if he knew what he made feel? I bet he would have thought twice before attempting to touch me.

Angry because my body is mine and mine only and I get to choose with whom to share it and no one, not one single soul could touch it in a way that I don’t want or like.

The anger because I was doing okay, I was overcoming it and I was so damn proud that I forgot that it is not only the past that I am overcoming.

I am overcoming the past, the present and I should learn how to overcome the future.

My body will keep on being invaded and every time someone invade my space, it will not only trigger, but it will create another wound that I have to heal.

How many wound can a body bear before collapsing, before it loses its ability to heal and move on?

I wanted to scream, Fine I get it, I got my share of this bullshit, can it stop now?

No, it won’t stop now.

It won’t stop because I am not destroying it, because all the energy that I am putting and others are putting seems to be more focused on how to protect myself when it happens and prevent it instead of focusing on destroying the structure of the system leading to this.

My body is sick but I will fight you till the last breath.

I will fight not only to destroy, I will fight and put all I have, even though it sucks that my energy should be invested in overcoming, but I hope that I will put so much energy in overcoming that I would end up not just overcoming but also building extraordinary things over it, beautiful valuable worthy things.

You will not take my ability to love, you might take my life but my love will remain fierce.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

a new perspective to physical contact


I was almost 8 or maybe younger, the first time I remember being harassed.

We were playing hide and seek and in the family house in the mountains, he was 18 or so.

He told me to lay down on the ground between two beds facing the ground and not say a word or move.

He laid on top of me and all I remember was him repeating to stay calm so no one would find us and that we are playing a game, he ran his hand under my shirt and dry humped me.

All I remember was feeling uncomfortable but I have never said a word.

Next memory is when I was at school, aged 11 and a student  5 years older than me if not more, would sit next to me during computer class and would run his hands on my thighs and arms, I would move away telling him to leave me alone, for me, I never thought much of it. I remember the supervisor in the school asked me once “did he do anything wrong to you?” and I was baffled by that question, why would she ask? What does she know? And I don’t know if what he is doing is wrong; the only answer I gave uncomfortably was “he is being annoying, I don’t want him to sit near me”

Then a year later at the same school, a student locked me inside the classroom during a break time, shocked me and shoved me to the wall, and then he unzipped his pants forcing me to grab his penis.

At that time I knew it was wrong but I was being threatened and I didn’t know for whom to speak.

That moment teachers were knocking on the door, and he opened the door and I never said a word either.

Then they were random things like how this guy in the family would grab my ass whenever he passes by.

At the age of 13 I had the talk with my mother and mother told me “never let any guy touch you”

At that moment,  I realized I was harassed but I felt guilty for not speaking and for letting them touch me so I never shared.

As I was getting older, I had many incidents with taxi drivers, who would try to molest me, some using a weapon.

I had one with an ex, who tried to rape me years ago after we decided to go to an isolated area to talk, he then left me in the middle of nowhere under the rain to figure out a way back home.

I tried to talk as I grew older, but I was always told “don’t sit in front, be careful what cab you take, don’t walk alone or take a cab alone at night, don’t go to isolated places, what where you wearing, you trust people so fast…”

What it caused?

I thought I was affected by it, until I got intimate with someone for the first time.

In that warm moment, something broke in me and all I wanted was to shove the person away.

I was struggling to breathe and all I could feel was the disgust and fear that I felt after each time I was harassed.

I then tried to always focus on the fact that not all men are alike.

The problem was, it wasn’t just the harassment.

Majority of my childhood, the physical contact to me was associated with abuse or harassment.

I couldn’t remember someone touching me for a reason other than harassing me or beating me.

It represented the opposite of security.

That was what physical contact represented, and the most painful journey was to learn to associate being touched with love and affection and security.

It is a lifetime process, but we get better, even though the scars remain.

 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

a letter to the self


Do not conform, get out of the shell

Confront and talk, when people attempt to shut you up, know that you have reached a cultural silence that is being kept in purpose by authority figures to protect their powers.

Shake the system from its core.
When your lips betray you, write. Write for you and the rage in you; write to make that fire in you reach others within.

Keep your fiery heart alive alongside your brain.

Know that even though your brain might know something, your heart will take more time to accept it, so be patient.

I urge you to fight, and cherish your madness with all its folly and bafflement with all the heavy weight of the suffering of this world.

Don’t turn your head away, embrace the tragedies and breathe the pain.

You will struggle with a system forcing you to see the world as gray and doll and mechanic, but don’t let it confine you.

Fall in love with and every bits of it, break with it and resist with it.

The world is resisting, can’t you feel it?

The only true taste of freedom would be found in resisting, resisting to build, to see all the colors, feel all the feelings and be whole.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

سوريا

أنا عم بتعرّف على سوريا من خلال التعرّف على شعبها, سوريا ليست شوارع وباطون فقط, سوريا حيّة بشعبها وأنا أتوق للتعرّف عليها.
فاجلس لساعات أتسمّع لقصصهم ومشاكلهم وأحلامهم, نشارك الابتسامات والدموع, نشارك الكحول والأكل ونعلّم بعضنا بعض المصطلحات والتعابير.
أشعر ببعض الذنب للتفكير بهذه الطريقة لكن أنا فرحانة انه صار عندي رفاق من سوريا, وأنا مبسوطة لاكتشافي انه ليس هناك فرق كبير بيننا

On the Road to Liberation


If I could dream of a world where I wouldn’t cry to my mother wishing I was born a male.

What is it like for women to be liberated?

Is it simply a mindset? Is it about having a voice? Is it about being capable to work, to live her life independently as she wants?

It is all crucial in the journey of liberating myself, but we need to stop expecting couple of laws, and couple of awareness campaigns to liberate us.

We live in the illusion that if we ran for elections and won seats, that if we reached high positions in the company or even opened our own company, if we provide the financial stability in our families, we will be free.

We forget that our voice isn’t yet being heard unless we become “something”.

That we still have to walk 10 times harder to reach a position or be taken seriously.

That we have to struggle daily for our basics rights.

That we walk in fear of being harassed or raped or judged every day.

That we are still expected to submit, to obey and not question.

Why don’t we ever see the whole system that is enslaving us?

How capitalism, religious institutions, media, traditions and ideologies… are all tied together to create our prison.

How it is not, how I view gender or how I dress, that will free me.

a conversation with an activist


I listen to them desperate for a change, full of passion and motivation, but it doesn’t move me.

I listen to them in boredom, yawning here and there.

Stuck in a cycle on repeat.

They think that the reason they failed is because they never tried enough, what if we push harder, put more effort, talk more to people, be more on the ground, be more aggressive, be more more more.

How about you stop and so we can sit together and come up with something else?

The world is bleeding reine, we can’t stop and put a pause to figure something else, we need to stop the bleeding first.

But! But! You can’t stop the bleeding now.

The world will constantly bleed, regardless of the effort that you put trying to stop the bleeding.

You have to tackle the source of the bleeding and for that, you need to pause and think.

Pause? And keep the world bleeding? Do you hear yourself?

We have to sacrifice, I know it hurts to see it bleed now, but we have to sacrifice because it is the only option that hasn’t been attempted yet. You can’t throw me in your guilt trap, we are all bleeding, and few months have been enough to show me that our tactics would fail treating the symptoms.

You want to create something from scratch? We don’t have an alternative solution and we have no time to create one, this is urgent!!!

We will constantly be in an urgent state because the problem is not being treated… when will you make the choice to stop wasting your energy and sit with me to work.

Do you have something?

No

Then I am leaving.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Walk in her shoes

After watching this video I got overwhelmed with emotions
I learned that I couldn’t trust anyone from a small age, even in the house.

I used to have panic attacks at the idea of leaving the house, but when the house became unbearable, what was outside wasn’t as scary.

How are you supposed to trust a stranger to be with him alone in the car while he drives you somewhere?

It took me a lot of courage, and I managed to remain cautious.

First time a cab driver grabbed my leg, my arm, my breast, my face…

It wasn’t the first time I got harassed, but I couldn’t get used to it.

It took me weeks to recover, from the knife held near my neck, the gun pointed at my head…

I became stronger.

Until I get touched by the person I love, and I break down in tears, because there I was vulnerable and being loved but his touch only reminded me of the pain and disgust.

It is an everyday process to not let it destroy the good things in life, to not let it turn you bitter, detached, to keep on trusting and being kind.

Friday, 21 February 2014

لماذا لا تدمريني؟

-لماذا لا تتكلمين؟
-لأنني أراقب
-ماذا؟
-كيف يتصرفون
-ولماذا؟
-كي أعرف كيف أدمرهم, هل تعلم, لكل شخص نقاط ضعف
-لماذا هذه الابتسامة على وجهك؟
-الانسان سهل التدمير, من دون سلاح, مجرد سلسلة كلمات ممكن أن تجعله ينهار
-ما هي الكلمات؟
-لكل انسان كلمات خاصة به
-هل تريدين أن أصدق ان بمجرد كلمات يمكنك تدميري, أنت وطيبة قلبك وكيف تتسللي على داخل الانسان, ستدمريني بكلمات؟
-الكلمات ليست وحدها تدمر, عليها أن تدخل لصميمك
-فاذاً لماذا لا تدمريني؟
-لأن العالم يدمر, أنا أريد أن أبني
 

Monday, 10 February 2014

together, we can fight


I will never forget when my grandmother asked me in tears one day “why would you want to cause yourself a headache? Why would you bring yourself pain?”
She was asking me to stay away from politics, to stay away from protests, to stay away from trying to do any change.
It wasn’t the first time someone asked me that, I am always asked, “Why do you bother? Why don’t you just live?”
Dear grandma, I already explained to you that I already have a headache, and that I already have a pain, staying away from politics will not make it go away.
That is the only way I know how to live.
People agree that the world is bleeding, they continue detaching themselves from this world and one another to breathe.
Detaching themselves from what they view as suffering.
You can’t fully detach though, you can’t hide the suffering under the mattress  and sleep on it without it reaching out to touch you at night.
I know it is a lot to bear, but the pain shouldn’t be a reason to stop us from being open to this world and embrace it.
We might think that we are going crazy and break down and feel how insignificant and fragile and small we are, but once you open up and reach out, we will become connected to this world and to one another, together we will be significant, together we will live and soothe our pain, together, we can make it, we can fight.

Monday, 3 February 2014

lessons learned from TBP


Take back parliament was a reformist way of changing the system. Winning the elections was debatable; it was a short period of time to be able to launch a campaign for the election, When I chose to be a part of it, it wasn’t much about winning the elections as much as it was about starting somewhere, but it takes even years to create a stable foundation for an alternative movement on the ground.
It was bound to fall apart seeing now how it was built on a momentary circumstance, which was the election. It was an attempt to plan something for the long term but it fell into the “reacting” cycle.

For the past year, I came to see that fighting oppression was no longer about fighting only the polarization of both 8 and 14 march.

Take back parliament included in its fights, methods to reduce corruption, to create more gender equality and provide basic rights from health care to laws to protect against domestic violence. It included environmental causes and solutions to everyday problems such as electricity, water, traffic… It even included animal rights and causes from the region that we are connected to, such as Palestine per example.

But it stayed in the bubble, it remained centralized and it failed to reach a different audience than the usual group of people from the activist scene.

How detached is the civil society in Beirut from the rest of the population? Simple small example (no attempt to generalize) is how for 22 years and mainly because I never went to hamra or gemayze or achrafiye and such, I heard and knew nothing about the civil society. I barely watched news and my parents as well as my surroundings never spoke about the “civil society”. That was the first time I get to see how detached the scene was from the rest of the population.
You have to seek them and not vice versa.

The tone of a lot of activists (including myself at times) is also often dogmatic, there isn’t much listening and interacting. When I joined Take back parliament or an NGO, it was often the same group of people jumping from an NGO to another, or from a movement to another, or participating in more than one.
It was often the same group of people in the protests, no matter what was the main cause; most activists participated in most protests. At first I got stuck in the cycle of reacting, I felt the need to react whenever something happened but after some time, I realized that the plans based on reacting are falling apart because they don’t grasp the whole image and aren’t built for something sustainable or long term.
Why is it easy to get stuck in that cycle? Because when you feel as suffocating, it feels good to react and have the illusion that you are acting and accomplishing something that will cause a change. It is hard to take a step back, in time of crisis and plan for the long term while we let the world bleed for a while knowing that burning our energy reacting to the crisis, wouldn’t do much good on the long term.

Second, I wanted to fix the system, I was more open to communicate and compromise and reform the system from within. It was a form of normalization of that system to be able to work with it and within it. Later on I stopped wanting to “fix the system”. I want to destroy the system and meanwhile work on alternatives. The system wasn’t just the government, the system extended to the religious institutions and patriarchy and corporations… Some claims that it is better to bring down one thing by it is own and then move to the other, so we debate if we should fight it all at the same time, or fight it part by part. This is more depending on the circumstances.
 There is also how to fight that is debatable, but I don’t think there is much space for debating violent or non-violent tactics once you consider destroying a system exerting so much oppression on you, and would do anything to remain sustainable and functional. The less violent the more you will fall into the “fixing” the system and normalization it and back to reforming it. Movements come and go, and there will constantly be crises to react on, but I no longer wish to support such acts that will burn out the people interested in a change and push them in despair once they realize that in the end we aren’t building a stable force on the ground to fight back.

What do we really have? We have a cycle of support, spaces to gain knowledge. What I want is more interactions in other areas where we rarely interact. I want to initiate more but no longer as a reaction but stop waiting for crisis and start working on independent projects for the long term. I want stable spaces that are both secular and not controlled by a specific NGO or movement, in areas outside Beirut. I want us to stop repeating the same cycle.
Changing the look of a movement, its name, members… wouldn’t mean changing its core. I want us to start tackling problems differently. We have to start thinking differently in order to plan differently.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Frustration

كنت دائماً أصمت بوجه كلماتهم, حتى عندما تنتهكني
لماذا؟ لأنني تربيت بمجتمع علّمني ان عدم الّرد هو الحل, واني كفتاة ذات أخلاق يجب أن أتجاهل تصرفاتهم. ألقى عليّ شعور الذنب بتركيزه على تصرفاتي ولبسي وأفعالي...
لكن من يعرفني يعرف اني لا أستطيع أن أخرس بوجه من ينتهك كائن آخر.
بدأت بالرّد بطريقة لائقة محاولة أن أقوم بحوار ما, ثم لاحظت ان الحوار لا ينفع, فأكثرهم لم يتوقفوا.
أقف على الرصيف لأسمع كلماتهم وأبتلع ردي وأسيطر على غضبي, حتى يوم وضع شب يده على شعري وهو يلفظ نفس الكلمات التي ما زلت لم أتعوّد عليها.

رأيت نفسي أسير كل مساء بحذر وخشية, مع اهتمام كبير لمحيطي. الليل كان أكثر وقت كنت أشعر به بأمان وعلى قيد الحياة, انا من يحب الليل بفراغه وعتمته, وأحب عدم الاكتراث لمحيطي والتنزه غير مدركة لما يحصل حولي, أحلل, افكر وأحلم.
لن تسرق ذلك مني.
شعرت بغضب رفضت السيطرة عليه بعد ذلك اليوم. نفس الغضب الذي شعرت به عندما كنت أرتدي الكفّية, التعليقات التي كنت أسمعها لم تكن أفضل, خاصة حيث أعيش.
كان جاري مثلاً يردد لي "هذه الكفيّة خطيرة" وكنت أضحك. ثم أفراد بالبلدية تكلموا مع أهلي, لينصحونهم بعدم السماح لي بالتجوّل وحدي على الطرقات بالمنطقة بوقت متأخر لأنني فتاة وذلك خطر, او عدم السماح لي بارتداء الكفّية بالمنطقة, لأنها ترمز الى "اليسار" وذلك خطر, كنت أضحك على كلمة خطر ولكن بدأت أختنق.

أريد أن يلمسني حبيبي من دون أن يرتجف جسدي وأنهار لأنني تذكرت الشعور الذي شعرت به كلما مرة انتهكت.
أريد أن أقبّل حبيبي من دون أن أنغلق على نفسي أو من دون خوف وقلق و من دون أن أشعر بأنني أقوم بخطأ ما اذا قبّلته بساحة النور بطرابلس, فأين الخطأ بالحب؟

لقد نسيت كيف أحب.

الجندي الذي ينظر الي بطريقة فوقية وتعجرف لأنه يشعر بأن لديه سلطة ما ليتحكم بكلماتي وتصرفاتي وأفعالي... كياني يصرخ بوجهه.
لا أبارح نظري عنه, يغضبه ذلك, لأنني أجبرته بأن ينظر بعيني بمستوى متساوي ولم أتراجع.
لم يفهم أحد لماذا كرهته ولكن لم أكترث لذلك.
أنا لن أبارح نظري عنه, سأترك نظري ثابةً.
الأفكار ليست بالتسلسل ولكن تباً لذلك
 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Why Syria?

I remember in middle school, studying about the famine that struck Mount Lebanon in between 1914 and 1918.
I never forgot the stories the teacher told us, about people selling their homes for some bread, or people eating dead animals found on the streets…
I never forgot that picture specifically:

 
It was a traumatizing experience to learn history, I wrote to my teacher in an exam that year:  we study the dates of the battles, the victories and losses; the main focus is often on the people on top, we never stop to see the effects the war had on the people, and how it remained through generations. The scars we carried, the lessons we learned. Numbers and names of the ones who ruled, aren’t the only things that make “history”.

 Why am I sharing this?
Because I was told to write, even though I feel disgusted to type letters and only type letters while not so far away, another hunger is happening caused by the Siege onYarmouk camp.


I was never capable of writing decent political stands, or analyze a situation from an objective point of view, but screw all that.
I am good at writing as a human, and to be a human, I have to be political.
To be a human is to take a stand against all type of oppressions, and what I view as wrong.
There is no feeling worse than feeling helpless, facing such acts.
No amount of words written, no amount of tears or breakdowns, no amount of urges to go to Syria, no amount of relief work, no amount of protests could stop that suffering.
The only thing we can is plan for the future.

My father told me once “Syria is long gone, We kept telling you to visit it but you insisted you had time. Now it is gone, you might as well forget about it”
I stood up in rage and screamed: “No, and even if it is gone, I will rebuild it with my own hands.”
I am not sure from where this came and neither my father, so he left me with a question that I never stopped contemplating on “Why Syria?”
But why Lebanon? Why should I put the place where I was born and raised in without having a choice as a priority?
I am not patriotic as most people around me, I am not choosing Syria for any patriotic or some ideology based on nationalism.
I am taking sides with the people resisting the regime that oppressed them (regardless what their nationality, gender, religion...), I am taking sides with the people seeking to build a better system, I am taking sides with the people who seek the benefits of the people because they understand their suffering.
I am taking sides with people who even if we might disagree with on some points, ought to have the same right to live, to express themselves… as us.
I am taking sides because I feel that it is my responsibility to speak and give a hand and act.
Because I need them, because in order to fight in the future, we could only fight together to bring down what is making us suffer and create a stable alternative.
Because I am a part of them, because I chose to be one of them, because I am small comparing to them, they are the true fighters worth of respect and admiration, I am not the one struggling for my life, I am just a random person typing, desperate to find a way to help.
 Because this world, hasn't yet killed my love for human beings and my desire to make myself and this world better.