Wednesday, 12 February 2003

My Story With Bint Jbeil

   I write this message as we -Arabs- go through very hard times. The only point I want to make is that we are all one difference between Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, Yemeni, Moroccan, difference between Shiaa and Sunna.. I say this because I feel we are on the verge of a great upheaval where all those alleged national and religious differences will be used by our enemy.

This is a story of me, an Egyptian who found home in a Lebanese town: Bint Jbeil. Khalil remember when I wrote you this ages ago and you wanted me to share it with people here. Now I feel the time is right to share it. Thanks Khalil for a wonderful website that keeps me connected to a place where I found my soul, a place where I proudly call home.

Dear Khalil,

First let me thank you for a wonderful site...though I am not Lebanese, this site has put me in touch with one of the cities that is the closest to my heart and soul.

My story with Bint Jbeil -if you can spare me a few minutes- goes back to 1994 when I was doing a press fellowship in Detroit, Michigan and my host family was the Meccky family from Bint Jbeil. This was the first time I was introduced to it. I attended a wedding in Bint Jbeil hall in Dearborn. I used to sit with the mother who used to talk passionately about Bint Jbeil. Obviously she was nostalgic about it but in the process she was -unconsciously of course- weaving some mythical bond between me and a place I have never seen. My fellowship ended and went back to Egypt in 1995 but never forgot Bint Jbeil..

In February 1999, while I was doing my MA in London, a French friend of mine said she was soon to be visited by a friend of hers who is Lebanese and she wants to introduce me to this friend who also happened to be from Bint Jbeil.. I thought what a coincidence?... We talked a lot about it and my memories were revived. The mythical, divine bond became stronger. I was shown pictures of the city .. I became a captive to this beauty..

Came November 2001.. I went to Lebanon for the first time for a conference. First thing I did was hire a cab and go to Bint Jbeil. All along the way, I have been scanning the land with my eyes.. and when we arrived, Fuad-the driver- asked me: “what is it about Bint Jbeil?” he said "if you could see the look in your eyes when we entered the city, it is as though some one has met his mother after a long long time and you don't belong here, so what is it about Bint Jbeil??"

I could not answer him Khalil but I thought I wanted to kiss every stone, every house, every grass, and every piece of the sky hovering on Bint Jbeil. I myself have no explanation for this love! I just love this place. This is where I could live and die...some might think I am romanticising but I am not.. The serenity and tranquility of the place have envelopped my soul forever... the divine bond is getting stronger...this is where I would want to live and die....



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