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Beirut, The Pearl of the Mediterranean, Has Gone Dark

Beirut, The Pearl of the Mediterranean, Has Gone Dark

Friday, 13 August, 2021 - 11:00

At home, my mother lit a kerosene lamp after she had been without any electricity for 10 hours. Government-supplied electricity is close to nonexistent; as for the private sector, as in the generator mafia, they have stopped providing electricity to their clients after fuel became scarce, with the product unavailable in markets for various reasons, the most prominent of which is smuggling to Syria. Smuggling to Syria has two sides; the first is importers doubling their profits as they sell it at double the domestic market price. As for the second, it is that some consider smuggling to be an act of “resistance,” as one of those monopolizing the culture of “resistance” recently said.

My mother brought us back to the civil war when we were used to living with whatever means available to us. However, she also stirred our collective fear, exacerbating the extreme anxiety we feel in our daily lives, which have changed in form and substance. They have turned into mere struggles for survival, maintaining what remains of our energies to stay alive in the republic of new prophets and those calling for patience and insightful perspective. However, with her insight and perspective, my mother was cleverer, lighting her lamp to escape the darkness of those claiming to promote insight.

Yesterday, my mother put her hands together and decried the situation we find ourselves in, asking what will be, who will still be, how this long fall will end, the extreme terror and obsessions of inevitable migration. The shrapnel of anxiety strike at the details of our lives, but the painful detail is that everything around us is dark, the house, building, street, cafe, university, school, hospital, people, and stones. And on the opposite of the balcony, where my family members sat to escape the heat and darkness, the speaker at the mourning ritual commemorating Ashura was calling people to learn to be patient from Hussein’s companions, who never left his side. However, he forgot that Hussein was, like his companions, also thirsty.

On the highway to total implosion, collective suicide or total collision, the Lebanese’s supply of patience has run out, as they have not seen any light in their cities, villages, and neighborhood. On an exceptionally tragic day, not only Beirut, the pearl of the Mediterranean, was swept by darkness, but the entire country, from north to south, was dark. The electricity illuminates only the rulers’ homes, which are brimming with guards and fully stocked with the means to maintain a high quality of life. Those who try to approach them are viciously punished, with even the Beirut blast victims’ families were not spared. When they came together facing the home of one of the officials responsible for the calamity that had befallen them, new grievances were added to their lists. One could imagine Mahmoud Darwish standing among them, at the moment, asking the question; “Will a hungry guard defend the home whose owner had traveled to spend the summer on the French Riviera or in Italy…, I said, no he won't!” ..If only Darwish were alive, he would change his stance and say: “He will defend it!”

Amid this hell, none of Beirut’s new prophets have shown a willingness to take a step back. They are still preoccupied with their booty and glory, none of them have looked up the definition of insightfulness in the dictionary. They avoid reading the faces of the Lebanese who supported or were loyal to them to avoid seeing the awareness and wakefulness on the faces of the people on the brink of exploding.

In the end, what has been, is what will be. Yesterday, the ruling clique’s financial engineer and wealth manager lifted the state-funded subsidies on essential goods; yesterday, he blew the last warning before the confrontation and after the collision.

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