Monday, August 9, 2021

So, in Lebanon, what do you do on the days you can no longer continue?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

A couple of days back I went to the airport. No, no, not to travel - I did not even bother to renew my passport when it expired. So why did I go to the airport, you ask? To meet someone who was bringing me medicine boxes my brother had sent from out of Lebanon (most of them for mother, and some for me). The time was 12:30 A.M. - earlier that same day I went to another meeting place to meet a friend who secured me a box of a well sought-after medicine  for mother which - in July - took me 11 days to reach and when I managed to get one such box on July 13, its expiry date was... July 2021 (that would be the same month I got the medicine in, thank you for calculating). 

As I was going - on foot - for the meeting place the outstanding heat we were having in Lebanon only accelerated my metabolism and I had a hypoglycemia attack right in the middle of the road. Going back home was a drudgery, going to the meeting place was another, collapsing there and then was a third.

Oh sure, someone from abroad then texted me asking me how "my summer was going". Honestly, I did not even sure how to reply to that one. Where do I start? "Let me count the ways" as poet Elizabeth Barret Browning said. 

The bank? Well, everyone is still in limbo about that 158 thingy. Naturally at this point that's it, the money is gone along with it the future security that it was supposed to bring. Actually, the mother of the friend I was meeting for medicine box told me "I worked like a mule for 12 years after the death of my husband, even the interest rate I was not withdrawing. I told the bank to add it to the original sum. That was my son and grandchildren can spend them. Well, there you go, two million Dollars now gone!"

Electricity? The other day it took three days to do the laundry. You see, the generator cannot handle to turn the washing machine - on the first day we had the laundry in the machine we had total cumulative 10 minutes of government electricity that way. Then the next day it was patches here and there. Also not sufficient. So I had to stay awake till 12:10 A.M. on the third day, when the electricity finally came to see for the said laundry and remain awake lest it went off again (to unplug the washing machine!) so that took me safely to 1:40 A.M.. Funny, as I write this post, I had a power cut right this instant. OK, come to think about it, not funny at all since the generator guy himself is rationing the output and therefore too many times when the electricity breaks generator fails to take the baton.

The diabetes tests? I paid my insurance in full as I do yearly. And yet when I went to the lab the difference between what the insurance covers and what the lab asked for was - substantial. Why? Because insurance companies are still dealing at the Dollar having a 1507 Liras parity, when ithe laboratory people are dealing with it at the banks' parity (i.e. 3900 Liras). Because, you know, there are about half a dozen Dollar parities now in Lebanon. Which of course brings us back to the beginning - banks, and parity rates.

So how is my summer going? Honestly there are days when seriously I can no longer mentally go on. And take it from someone who is tough as a rock. Still, there are those days where I am sinking, literally. Like some juggler with 19 plates at a time and who cannot stop because if they did, all plates would come crashing down. But hey, it's been a while we have been using Melamine plates rather than the fancier glass ones - they're easier to wash you know.

And these days, anything that gives you a bit of respite is welcome.

So, in Lebanon, what do you do on the days you can no longer continue? There's only one thing to do.

Just go on. Just go on, like a Bunny on a Duracell battery. there's no other way.