Visiting Mar Mkhayel’s abandoned train station as well as others around Lebanon for my play “Aya Se3a Byousal El Tren?” (When Will the Train be Here?) (For more information about the play, click here) was a thrill for I learned so much about our history, our past… But it also filled me with dread and anxiety.
NOW Lebanon couldn’t have said it better: “The abandoned train station in Mar Mikhael is a decaying testament to a long-gone era in Lebanon; a romantic remnant of a past increasingly overrun by sanitized conceptions of the future.” (for the full article, click here)
I don’t know when it all happened. When some of the best things that happened to this country started getting rusty. Trains, a way of transportation that could’ve saved us from so much traffic and pollution, are rotting in abandoned lots. The “toot toot 3a Beirut” has been silenced. When did we become so careless about things that characterized us as Lebanese?
“Sorry, my Arabic is a bit rusty”… WHAT?! We’ve been living right here, why are we speaking, or more importantly, why are we, why am I, writing in another language? When I was researching comparative literature programs abroad, Arabic was cited as a dead language. If only they knew what was happening to it in Lebanon.
Our own history is going down the drain. Some of us graduated from college and we still don’t know when our civil war started. Most of us become silent after the second verse of our national anthem because we forgot the words or never even bothered to learn them. How many of us were killed during our wars? We seem to develop the memory of a gold fish when it comes to our own history.
I love the times I spend with my parents around our dinner table when they would tell us stories of when they were younger. They’re my source of history, my fountain of memories that will disappear if they remain unrecorded.
What’s in your fountain of memories? What would you like to see revived here in Lebanon?
Photos taken by Dima Matta.