Maya Mikdashi

Smoke and Resolutions

Two days ago, my mother and I watched a building disappear. We had been taking a walk around our house in a mountain above southern Beirut when we saw it - the mad cluster of life, mediated through concrete buildings of different heights, starting at the coastline and spilling inwards. The city. It lay there, exposed. At first it was difficult for my American mother to discern where Beirut “proper” ended and its southern suburbs began. It all looks the same from a distance, especially from an elevated one. 

Beirut, the Incredible Shrinking City

Before yesterday, an Israeli missile slammed into an old, unused lighthouse in Beirut, near the Lebanese American University. Debris from the attack found its way to my father’s office building. Inside it was my father. When he left his office, he found a paper on the ground that warned him that he was in danger, and it was due to Hezbollah’s, not Israel’s, rockets. All over Beirut papers fluttered down to the streets, arriving in pieces sometimes (like snowflakes, Ahmad said) - perhaps exhausted from their long journey to the ground from the heights of an Israeli warplane. As the papers neared the streets cars stopped, bodies stooped, and people read. 

The hardest part is the waiting

We try to get together every night to talk. It helps relax, or distract us. The out-loud questioning, hypothesizing and arguing makes us feel that there is reason, that we can put the previous day’s violence into a chart and then navigate it to some conclusion, logical or otherwise. We guess which roads we could, if we wanted to, drive on tonight. Which areas of which cities we could visit. But we also know that we will not drive on those roads, and we will not visit friends, family, or even favorite restaurants and bars in different parts of the country. Increasingly, we do not mention, or fantasize about going to the south, where one of us has a family house that we visit at least once each summer. 

In Lebanon, We Have No Bomb Shelters

Today all of Lebanon is under attack, and the target is the country’s civilian population. The facts speak for themselves. Bridges, tunnels, highways, hospitals, national gas storages, and privately owned gas stations have all been bombed by Israeli planes, ships, and artillery. Churches, mosques, village roads, state electric and water plants, homes, grain silos, food factories, and trucks transporting gas and goods have been destroyed, and civilians ordered to evacuate their homes have been targeted while searching for refuge. 

Another Day in Beirut

Two days ago, sitting on my sister’s balcony in Achrafieh, I saw an American helicopter. Well, I heard it first. I followed my ears with my eyes. There it was in the sky, making slow, calculated progress. My brother-in-law, Hasan, explained to me what type of helicopter it was. It had two sets of spinning metal blades. Both sets of blades were chopping into the air furiously, loudly and indiscriminately, in order to keep itself afloat. I had seen this type of chopper before, flying over Baghdad three years ago, again in July. Funny how memory works. One war reminds you of another.