In the past 7 months, I was asked multiple times if I miss my home country, Lebanon. Contrary to what everybody expected to hear, my answer was always a bold No. Seven months have passed, and the question is still being asked: “do you miss Lebanon”, “do you miss your home”, “do you miss… where you said you come from?”
It’s only now, after 7 months, that those 7 letters have started to echo in my heart. It’s only now, after 7 months, that those 7 letters have called my name… again. I heard their voice… and listened to their story… again. It’s a story that I know. I lived it, lived in it and wrote part of it. I know the beginning and I know the end. Each letter carries a load, a smile, a memory, and a smell! And if you ask me whether I feel this load, oh yes! I do! I still feel this burden, I smile, I remember the good memories, and inhale that euphoric smell called Lebanon. Each letter carries a burden, a weight. The weight of love, mothers offer unconditionally. The weight of self-control, fathers often display. The weight of cruelty, intolerance, frustration… the weight of our footsteps as we move on every day, the weight of self-confidence behind which our insecurity hides in the shadows. I still feel this burden, and for some reason, I connect with it, and miss it. I miss the chaos. This chaos that embraces many options and choices. It’s a chaos that covers layers and layers of complex simplicities and simple complexities. In this chaos, all lines intersect, and form a piece of art with a thousand meaning. This chaos is one hazy representation of daily life in Lebanon… where all lines are blurred!
Contrary to the orderly chaos of Lebanon, I finally got to see what order looks like. After 7 months of living here, I realise that every aspect of life is defined by a patent straight line. A straight line that draws the limit between two or more entities. Lanes on the road draw the line between the start and the destination. Answering machines draw the line between the question and the answer. Timetables draw the line between chaos and punctuality. Laws draw the line between obedience and rebellion. Most things are defined by a sharp straight line. Even relationships! Neighbours, are the closest post code to your house but they might have not have rung your bell yet. People’s smile is a straight line that has not become a laugh yet. It’s restricted and defined by a patent straight line.
After 7 months of living here, I now know what does it mean to dwell in a system. I now know the true meaning of laws, not the ones we break, but the ones that could break us. People respect the laws and the laws respect people.
I dreamt of life outside the 7 letters I grew up in, and so did many others, and they still do. It might be hard to visualise and understand that life in between patent straight lines is much more difficult than the one thriving in between blurred lines, those lines we are accustomed to in Lebanon.
Living in between blurred lines, is like a bird in a forest. A bird who can choose any tree to rest his wings on. The bird has a wide range of options. So do we. Living in between blurred lines gives us many options. We can think outside the box, we can dance outside the lines. We can create bonds, strengthen them, tie them, untie them, tie them again… as much as we want. We love, we hate, we react, we jump, we dance, as no line can limit our moves and choices. No line can limit us.
What makes us then dream of life in between straight lines? What makes us get tired of blurred lines? There could be many theories underpinning these questions. But one thing for sure, we are tired. This blurriness is exhausting! In blurred lines, people are not equal. They have to fight, every single day to survive. Fight for their rights, fight to get promoted, fight to access proper healthcare. In blurred lines, discrimination is accentuated as people are treated differently, and therefore learn how to look at each other differently. In blurred lines you can dance, yes but you have to bear the pain when others step on your foot. You are free yes, until you become the prisoner of people’s judgements. In blurred lines, many things cross the boundaries: eyes, when a man gives an unauthorised look to a woman, undressing her, in the blink of an eye; hands, when they offer an unwanted touch, a hug, or a hand shake; lips, when they set a word free, a word that never wanted to be heard. Straight lines are rarely crossed. Straight lines resemble some sort of imposed rules that define people’s behaviours; imposed restrictions on human conduct.
As much as I miss dancing between the lines, I confess that I cherish a society where all people are treated the same: young, old, men, women, children, black, white, ill, healthy, homosexual, straight… I cherish a society where humanity is 1 word with 1 meaning.
I cherish a society where people are given the opportunity to employ their full potential.
I cherish a society where individuals can speak without fear of being prosecuted or murdered
I cherish a society where individuals can access free healthcare.
Yet strange enough, 7 months have already passed and I still breathe those 7 letters. Seven letters engraved in my memory, written in bold, written in blurred lines. Strange isn’t it?