Zena El-Khalil

While I was building dreams, they were preparing my destruction

So, they’ve been planning these attacks all along. Why wasn’t I informed? For the last six years, I have been making plans. I have been building dreams. I got married. I bought a home. I painted. I exhibited. I made plans with people … for them to come here. I invested time, emotions, money, ideas, love … into Lebanon. For the last six years, I have been building bridges. From Beirut to New York. From Beirut to everywhere. For the last six years, I have made new friends. I have met with people. I have made contacts. I have made committments. For the last six years, I promised people things. At work, at home, with friends … 

A self-conscious trip to the supermarket

I finally went to the supermarket. I have been dreading it … didn’t want to see empty shelves. Didn’t want to see people queuing. What I did see: shelves beginning to empty. A priest buying a lot of beer. Long lines. I have never been so self-conscious buying food before. My pride would not let me overstock. I saw long life milk. My hand reached out for a bottle, and then another, and then a third. As soon as I saw them in my trolly, I took one out and put it back on the shelf, and then the second, and finally the third. I did not buy milk. I was so self-conscious about it. I thought to myself, better leave it for a mother who has kids to buy it. 

Two week notice

I have spoken with so much press, but it doesn’t seem to be working. In fact, I feel that I have become just another war victim. Just another story on your radiowaves. Just another blog entry online. The media lives off of stories like mine. I help get their ratings up. I help people tune in to their channel. I help them sell ad spots to make money. I also manage to get my voice heard. I also manage to touch a few people. I am grateful for that. But I do not want to be just another war victim, that perhaps next week you will forget all about me. I don’t want to live a life of war. I did not ask for this. 

Another Update from Beirut

Evacuation is not the solution. Just stop the bombing and then no one has to go. I would say that the biggest issues on my mind today is what is going to happen to Beirut after all the foreigners are shipped out? On tv and online, I’m seeing thousands of people fleeing the country. Where are you all going? I have been helping foreigners leave. Two already gone. One tomorrow. And one that keeps postponing her departure… She doesn’t want to leave. Her parents have pleaded for her to leave, but she loves Beirut as much as I do…What happens when they are gone? Will they then finally go for the all out Beirut attack? Beirut is nothing without her foreigners. Please don’t leave. 

At a crossroads in downtown Beirut

Today I drove through downtown on my way to visit my parents. I was driving alone and was a bit nervous. First time in a car alone since this whole thing started … But I had to see my parents. I came across a red light and stopped. The streets were empty, and I caught myself wondering why I stopped and didn’t just go through. Streets were totally empty - no other cars, no traffic police. Then I remembered my latest policy that is helping to keep me sane; that even under attack, we should not lose our manners. That even under attack, there are still some regulations we should abide by. Somehow, by not crossing the red light, I was able to maintain some dignity. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I did not want to burden you with the troubles of war but...

For the last half hour or so, I have been watching the skyline outside my balcony. It is on fire. It’s 4:14am. At 3:28am this morning, I woke up to the sound of Israeli jets flying low over our skies in Beirut. I was just beginning to finally fall asleep, had racing thoughts in my mind all night, cramps in my stomach, fear… Just as I thought I was going to fall asleep, I heard the sound of jets, followed by one explosion after another. It has calmed down now. I hear morning prayers in the distance.