Al Rawiya


Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Ghoussoub

Today, earlier, I strolled through a strike, erupting into smoke, shouting banderoles and songs and messages to organized governance persevering to destroy, and parading in a closed circle tightly knits trumpets and brass, before they trudged past one by one, red flag after purple flag after rainbow flag after military Prussian uniform, streaming Révolution! Freedom! one way as I strolled on opposite.


A mere promeneuse, I am, as this country erupts into trash cans in flames, throw in the residue garbage bags and Napoleon’s look-a-likes. Plastered on the lamp post, “jeunes + retraités en bande organiséen’a pas duré une semaine, quatre doigts d’honneur levés. C’est notre droit, c’est notre vie, screamed they.


The cassettes rewind and I am 12 again, writing poetry taking form as a caged bird daydreaming on liberté. Endless possibilities, innocent disabled girl, thought I.


Are they? Is independence akin to freedom? My droit d’être was fraught with holes through my innocence, confused. Why does violence against us continue? Are we safe enough here?


My liberté d’exister seems abound with notes of contradictions, glares grabbing me from blind spots I thought covered behind curtains. Am I safe in this cocoon weaved from wisps of smoke? Apparently not as my disabled body gasps for air, as my bones cripple further after spasms in the street lamp streamed dark, as my breasts are weaponized for mass destruction while I scream “NO” and flee, as my eyes blink back chemical bomb after smoke bomb after regime’s response to protest march after dancing in the street, one twirl of soft joyful intimate laughter was all it took to land us in crossfires.


Today, when I was convoquée pour investigation reportage into the fevers ranking generals do not want free. My inkwell has been seized, taken hostage as témoignages anonymes multiply, chords desperate to shatter their silences. They’re showing me a long list of my transgressions. I have committed a travesty as I saved from burning embers, shreds of embroidery and safe-keeps before I jump over.


They continue to interrogate me, incessant boulders unsculpted. My truths are ma liberté d’être I declare to their disapproving towers. I’m let off with a warning, which my lenses capture only briefly before setting it ablaze in the wind.


I stay my course until paper rectangles of pencil charcoal lined faces in red embroidery greet me in a line. A girl with short light violet dyed hair, black kohl eyes, snaps my portrait, a smile in front of story detailed of smiling expressions or masks, eyes all direct solemn declarations “nous ne sommes pas toutes et tous seules dans cette lutte de liberté d’exister”.

Béatrice Denise Chahine is a disabled writer wandering with a photo camera. Born and raised in New York - New Jersey to a Lebanese father and a Franco-Alsatian mother. At 18, she left the US -“home”- for France for university, graduating with diplomas in History, European studies, and International Relations. She has since searched far and wide for “home”, words, stories (fiction, History or other), and a good hot chocolate. She’s been published in zines (in the Snax issue by Chicago Zine Club and Beirut-based Haven For Artists' ManbouZine issues) and the HyeBred Magazine in addition to presiding over her blog The Teapot and the Postbox. Currently in Strasbourg.



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