To When Beirut Turns 40


Emma Sleiman


Dear Beirut, 

Read this only when you turn 40, read this only when us, Gen Z, have turned into aunties and uncles watching over you, claiming you were always ours.

I’m writing you this letter to inform you that I’ll be joining you next year ; that I’ll be stumbling upon your history in every corner of your streets, that I’ll merge my soul to the writings and conferences of your intellectuals, that I’ll be dining at your Bliss street before going on a walk with a special someone on your Raouche, that I’ll be enjoying the smell of rain pouring over your white stoned buildings. I’m joining one of your universities Beirut, and I can’t wait to unveil all of your intricacies, to vividly witness what made my ancestors stay despite the atrocities you have emerged them in.

Your trauma is intrinsically delicious, maybe that is why we always pardon you. Pardon you for taking them, the people we’ve never met, those whose only proof of existence lie in our parent’s constant mind retrieval to a past we owe to relive in every breath you let us inhale. Pardon you for choosing them, over us. Them, you, who can dissociate anymore ? You have chosen the big business men, with tidy suits and slick hair, holding a fancy cigarette on one hand and empty promises on the other. Their wives are now stuck in one of your high end shops choosing between the red heels and the black purse while some of your segregated girls can’t even have the luxury to hold a decision. I blame you for everything, who else could I blame ? Everyone’s caught in an endless rhetoric monologue holding their own mirror towards the opposite party. Maybe that explains it all. Maybe your villains had all geared the light through reflection to a focal point until light became fire and fire destroyed you. Oh ya Beirut ! When are you going to stop your self sabotage. 

I’m writing to you this letter with the hope that at 40, you’ll wake up from your coma, that I’ll meet you awake, for the first time. I hope that I’ll be good enough to be assigned as your doctor. Until then, I’m kindly asking you to not give up as so many are already thinking of unplugging you. Oh my dear Beirut, next year I’ll meet your frozen corpse with a sinful pride of not letting you die, again.I hope you’ll recognize me from your dreams, that little, tiny girl dreaming on your streets.