Hate and love this Lebanese summer

They are installed under the vine on the balcony, around the plastic table. A thousand times hit by winters, so a thousand times patched together, quickly done, on chatterton, it’s the same table her parents have taken out every summer since she was a child. Even though they said they refused to replace her for superstition or for the memories, L. knows that it is now a matter of money. He knows that today any investment, no matter how small, is getting out of the car, enjoying a kilo of meat or a bottle of Black Label, going to the hairdresser or, let’s be crazy, buying a fan, battery powered, became a big decision for them. Of the order of life or death. L. knows that he has understood it, even though no one has said anything to him, and it hurts him in the flesh and to the bottom. Until his pride. He sees them this summer evening, stunned and stunned after a day where he has done nothing but fool obstacles to make ends meet. He also looked at them this morning when he woke up, with their bodies glued all over, their eyes red as ghosts, and wondered how to take this beast that their days have become. He observes them during the day, between two excursions with his friends, these two soldiers on the battlefield of an invisible war, to pieces, but wants to behave as if nothing had happened, as if everything was in order. He sees them weighed down by their own lives, weakened by the heat, crushed and sleepless, so proud of their battery-powered fan that they have chosen a new balcony table. And all this leaves a bitter taste on his tongue, a mixture of guilt and this impossibility of doing anything not to humiliate them further. Anyway, every time he escapes and prepares to give them a helping hand, “you know it’s going pretty well for me in Dubai”, they interrupt him with fake smiles: “Cats kheir Allah, keep your money for yourself, we do not need anything.She with her white roots and he with his meager engineering pension, barely enough for two fillings.

Those who are without sea and without horizons

Around them sweeps the July wind, gentle and round, the vines, which, when they come and go, filter the reflection of a moon which seems to be at hand. In the pink sky, the night slowly infuses its purple and then its blue. At the table, all the seasonal fruits, the white peaches sold in boxes at the edge of a road in Bickfaya, the apricots from the tree that was planted when L. was born, the plums and battikh that have nowhere else in the world the same taste. The parents bathe in the smell, in the presence and the stories of L., which to them seem to come from another world, and they smile. But this time in reality. Later, after the white coffee, whose scent is enough to repair his soul, L. will meet with friends in bars, he will wonder how they still feel. He wants to go and kiss boys who drool and fight to get people to accept this simple thing, which is to love boys, he will no doubt end up in rue Bliss, where he squints and walks in ecstasy in front of a man’ouché in the recurring sun while his mother will worry, leaving him unanswered calls and voice notes with a suffocated voice. Ls summer will go like this, just like all those who come back and all those who are there hate to be there in front of the amplitude of the damage. Then all of a sudden re-learning the taste of summers before, which is the taste of happiness. For they are now like that, the Lebanese summers. We hate them, for this summer again, this summer more than ever before, there will be children that we will have to sleep on the tiling of the balconies. For there will be parents who, at best, will leave the car once a month to take their children to landfills that serve as public beaches and from where they come out dotted with oil. Others who, in most cases, will have to burn from within when they see their children hanging around in slimy apartments of warmth and sorrow. We hate summer because the heat will reveal even more the lack of everything. The water that entire neighborhoods are deprived of for unclear reasons; water dams dried up as they destroyed the state; the slimy stench of trash cans; the lack of electricity, which turns people into lively and annihilated statues; the lack of money that will prevent an entire population from going out at all to take to the air and make a lousy kazdoura. We hate summer because we will still see children of leaders in power shelling the most beautiful beaches in the world on their jets, while children here in Lebanon will be deprived of the sea and in any case the horizon. While old people will die of heat, in silence, without anyone looking at them.

Those who, on returning home, complete the landscape

We hate summer because it will forever hover over it with the ghost of August 4th and the sadly unforgettable smell of blood and death. Because summer reminds us that two years, seven hundred and thirty days have passed since then, and not a word has been said about this crime. Yes it is true. But next to all that, there will be as many parents as L. whose eyes will bathe in the presence of their returned children’s stories. Their feedback will make them smile right, make them party and want to live when even that is now impossible today. Yes, in a moment, in no time, we will find ourselves in loving Lebanese summers again. For those who, on returning home and unknowingly, complete a landscape that has been amputated by their absence since the crises. Those who, even if this system goes wrong, will inject some oxygen into a comatose economy, and above all the desire to regain a foothold in restaurants, hotels, beaches, bars and shops that were about to stop everything and lose. To a balcony where you will find the same plastic table, under the vine, with a white coffee and the Moon in your hollow hand. For the weddings that annoyed us in the highest degree, but which just suddenly teleport us to this huge and incomprehensible celebration that was Lebanon before. For this desire, this call that takes us all to discover forgotten corners where we had never been before. For this old man selling labneh sandwiches on a village square; for those people who play cards, take a siesta in the shade of a walnut tree; to a humming fridge filled with childhood ice cream; for these ancient worlds so fragile that we go to bed and wonder how we can protect them. For the sea and its recognizable blue among a thousand; for these Almaza umbrellas pale of iodine and time; for this tanned beach walker to the edge of the T-shirt; for a kellaje and ferrets on the deckchairs in Sporting, where our parents, even during the war, swear to have left their best memories. To the parties where you feel a little guilty about being there, but where you end up having fun because they are like little miracles, windows on what Lebanon was and what will remain: a place where nothing knows magic or madness comes through life.

Each week, “L’Orient-Le Jour” tells you a story based on a photo. It’s a bit like that, a photo novel: from the image of a photographer, we imagine a mini pan of a novel, a tale … about fairies or witches, it depends …

They are installed under the vine on the balcony, around the plastic table. A thousand times hit by winters, so a thousand times patched together, quickly done, on chatterton, it’s the same table her parents have taken out every summer since she was a child. Although they said they refused to replace her with superstition or for the memories, L. knows that it is now a question …

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