The Broken Blonde

And her path to a warm home and a friend

Photo by Viktor Vasicsek on Unsplash

I met her on a cold winter evening. She was laying on the sidewalk, in the pouring rain, abandoned there by her last abuser. She was visibly broken by years of hardship. The old scars were still visible. The more recent ones were alarming.

I was in my car rushing somewhere when I saw her. I picked her up before the reaper did. She had many broken bones and a dislocated hip, which seemed to have been treated by less than qualified surgeons. Battle wounds really.

We would share stories over a cup of coffee with an orange peel every evening for the next week or two. I would tell her the tales of a small country on the verge of oblivion, and bit by bit, she would tell me her story, or at least the parts she could speak about without putting to jeopardy whatever sanity she had left. I had to figure out the rest.

I took her in and cared for her. She started to open up when the fog and doziness of homelessness lifted, but more so when she realized she could stay for as long as she wanted. She was safe here.

She was born in East Germany, during the cold war. Blonde, feminine, not as tall as you would expect, which suits me fine. And one could guess she once had a warm alto voice. The thing is, by the time I met her, she had not sung anything meaningful in years and her voice was only the shadow of what it used to be.

She had probably been an artist in a previous life, or longed to be one. She could have had to leave the totalitarian state where she was born, her art having become too heavy to bear behind the Iron Curtain. Or could she have been given up for adoption at birth, moving in and out of foster care until coming of age? Whatever it might have been, the life she was made to live took quite an expensive toll on her.

I tried to bring back the shine she had lost over years of sorrow and abuse, and I think I did a pretty decent job. I cleaned her up, put her back to shape, oiled her fretboard, refurbished her tuning mechanism, set her up with new strings and gradually tuned her to pitch. I left the scars though, as a tribute to her survival on a more than dodgy path, and they make her beauty stand out. She has been my go-to guitar ever since.

I do not know who played her before me or what was her repertoire back in the days. She never told me and probably never will. I just hope that she finds my music interesting enough, and I think she does. Otherwise, she would not bless me with this warm alto voice of hers when I play her.

Here she is, as if waiting for me to fix her a drink. Enough with coffee, even with an orange peel. She likes Bourbon. Fair enough. So do I.

The Broken Blonde — Photo belongs to the author

Let the board sound

Rabih

On some folks

Behold.

A hardcore right-wing capitalist, very vocal on free enterprise and economic liberties, a bit too much to the taste of

a fellow hardcore left-wing socialist, desperately trying to bring this impenitent capitalist to his views and into atonement, but to no avail, taking solace in

another hardcore left-wing socialist steering so much to the left she sometimes closes the loop, ending up on the right, next to

a right-wing conservative minding her own business, and

an anarchist, minding his own business as well, distractedly listening to

a moderate left wing progressist, always agreeing to disagree with his conservative fellows, while

another moderate, right in the center of the political compass this time, is carefully listening to the argument and then doing as he pleases.

Oh, and me.

These folks do not share many features, apart from the fact that they are human, speak the same language and happen to exist in the same place and time. Oh, and they share a very active chat group over WhatsApp and have lunch together at least once a week and have been for years.

Photo by MissMushroom

It happens that they also share the same origins. All Lebanese, living abroad. You saw it coming did you not?

As you might or might not know, religion and confession are core defining attributes of one’s political and social self in this small country, at least in the eyes of the Lebanese State, and this group is a good enough representation of the Lebanese society from that respect: Sunni, Shia, Catholic, Orthodox. But also, believer, agnostic, on a quest. And even more than that:

Despite their very heated arguments over lunch or over chat, they do appreciate each other’s presence on the table and in the chat group, and they appreciate each other even more as people. In fact, they are quite good representatives of the Lebanese society from that respect as well. Yes, the same society which tore itself apart in a 15 year long civil war and is still struggling in the midst of one of the worst economic crisis ever.

Why? How? Well let me argue, at the risk of puzzling the audience, that the people in this country are naturally tolerant and well meant towards each other despite the war and the difficulties faced by their homeland. How can they not be when they amount to 18 communities still cohabiting in this small land and having been for centuries? Had they not had minimal social skills, the landscape would have been much more uniform I suppose. Let us just say that the tolerance they display to each other has sometimes extended to leaders who should have rather been shunned.

To be honest, I did not want this post to be about Lebanon and the Lebanese people specifically. I wanted it to be a nod to these seven folks who joyfully fuel their lunches and chat groups with their differences and idiosyncrasies. So here’s to you folks, you might recognize yourselves if you are reading me.

Let me know what you think in the WhatsApp chat. You know which one.

PS: who’s in for lunch on Friday?

Let the board sound

Rabih