Not a particularly good day

A general view of the rubble of Fatima al-Zahra building, hit by Israeli aircraft a week ago, which contains a library, a school and a mosque linked to Hezbollah, in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, 26 July 2006. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)

I did not go to the funeral.

Yesterday was not a particularly good day. I was completely devastated, and had a lot ot do.

First I had to take care of Oum Mostafa, a 75-year-old Egyptian lady who cleans houses in Lebanon since I’m guessing the ’70s. My friend Leila said we’d better get her out of here, she doesn’t have to go through all this. She’s not feeling well and she’s getting poorer every day because no one wants to hire an old lady who can barely move to clean their house. I don’t think you want me to describe to you the room (is it a room? It’s something with a roof on the top of it) where she lives.

So I called my friend Yasser at the embassy and he was very helpful. However, we discovered that the lady was wanted by the Lebanese authorities, and that if the embassy can get her safely to the border, she would be arrested.

For two days we were trying to know what crime she committed, what is it that she did that gives her only two choices in life: stay here and get killed by Israeli air strikes or go to jail at 75.

After in-depth investigations, we found it. Ever since the year 2000, she never renewed her work permit, nor her other papers, so she’d have to pay $1,200 US or rot here for the rest of her life.

We got her out, thanks to the embassy’s efforts. Most Egyptian workers here do not have permits. If the embassy hadn’t done something about it, I think the Lebanese authorities would have seized the opportunity to collect some money.

Oum Mostafa is now in Syria (I hope), on her way home.

I called Salim. He told me Mohamad’s mother is … so I decided I won’t go. I’ll wait a couple of days. Is that enough for a mother to get used to the idea that her 23-year-old “baby” was killed?

Last night, air raids were so close, I was almost out of my mind. Israeli fighters were flying so low, I couldn’t wait to go home and hug my little baby (we live on the 12th floor, remember).

It turned out later they were bombing more TV, radios and phone transmission aerials somewhere close (Amsheet, near Jounieh).

I’m not supposed to write to you anymore. That was my decision when Mohamad was killed. But I did miss you.

And I know this will sound corny, but so many of you wrote to me, and it made me feel …

One of you wrote the following: I am so grateful for your posts on The Angry Arab Blogspot. I scan through the blog each night when I get home to see if there is a post from you. It has meant a great deal to me. In most ways I am utterly powerless. I have no or little influence from my location and position. And yet, that is not the whole truth, is it? No. It isn’t. I think of you, and Kinda, and all the people you write about, and hold them in my thoughts, in my soul, perhaps, here. Your words are affecting me and the way I live each moment. The way I listen and respond to those around me. It is perhaps too little, too late. Yet, I wanted you to know that you have all touched me, deeply. I hear you. I simply wanted you to know that, first of all, someone reads them, and that like a seed scattered on the dry earth, maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday, some of these seeds will take root. Pity? No. Guilt? Perhaps some guilt, certainly despair, and underneath it all a fragile living connection.

May you and Kinda be protected.

This is for you Howie, thanks.

I’m going home now to see Kinda. Tonight I’ll send some pictures and write about some of the stories we’re publishing.


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Hanady Salman is an editor at As-Safir newspaper