I love Saturdays. Even more in Summertime. Though I am self-employed and I am passionate about my work, I look forward to Saturdays so I can get to do the things that need you to be in a certain relaxed state of mind: listening to music, reading all those bookmarked articles in your favorite magazines, finishing those last few chapters of the book of the month, doing some design work …
You get the drift, usually the stuff that does not get your adrenaline pumping.
My family, friends and even my ex-wife know that on Saturdays I am not available before lunchtime. I made an agreement with all of them that I would be there for them anytime of the week except on those 4 or 5 hours of a Saturday morning and I begged them if they have to die not to do it during those sacred hours because … they will be on their own.
Since the beginning of the hostilities I pretty much stuck to my routine especially that the bulk of the neighborhood left to the trendy ski-resort town of Faraya and left me quasi alone to enjoy the “peace and quiet” and the abundance of parking spots. So besides the sounds of F-16 rockets falling over the southern suburbs the neighborhood was very quiet making my Saturday morning routine even more enjoyable.
This past Saturday I woke up at 5:00 AM, the Israeli pilots had finished their “nightshift” at around 3:30 AM and gone home to the wife and kids after bombing the living daylights of what is left of the southern suburbs (in “self defense” of course).
The power was on. I flipped my laptop and realized that even the Wi-Fi was receiving an extremely decent signal. Sweet. I prepared what amounts to a full gallon of coffee, hooked my Ipod to the Receiver and had Miles Davis ripping through his rendition of “Summertime” through the neighborhood like an Israeli fighter jet releases its flyers over the city.
I logged on and started opening IE windows like crazy. The whole spectrum of newspapers in the area from Al-Diyyar/Nahar/Safir (1) to Haaretz (2), passing by The NYT, LA Times and the Google News website of several thousand newspapers.
Then at about 8:30 AM I thought I heard my doorbell, but Fairouz’s jazzy Kifak Inta was so loud that the doorbell ring merged through the harmony. Five minutes later, I hear a crisp “knock-knock-knock”. For sure I was not expecting company. So I got a bit worried to tell you the truth. I paused the music and went to the door.
I open and find her! All 142 centimeters of her. She beams that large smile at me and says:
- “Heelo Mister”
- Damiantee, what are you doing here? Didn’t you leave the country already? [Damiantee is my Sri Lankan cleaning lady. She comes by every Wednesday and Saturday to clean the house and do my laundry. I have not seen her since July 12 and assumed that she left]
- No Mister, “Hone” [Here] is better.
- Damiantee I know you don’t watch the news but can’t you hear the bombs? The situation is very bad. You should go back to Sri Lanka for now.
- No, No “Hone Ahsan” [here better].
- Why didn’t you leave with the others?
- Tamil Tigers.
In better times, I am a news junky and would have picked up the reason, but I swear that I heard her say Detroit Tigers and thought to myself: hmmm, I did not know that Damiantee is into Major League Baseball.
I said: chou fi? [what’s going on]
- They are fighting with the government and a lot of people are getting killed. I don’t want to go. “Hone” better.
Somehow I was proud of this woman. She has made the decision that either in her own native country she might die or in Beirut and decided it is better to do it in Beirut!
In my “republic”, she gets the highest Medal of Honor. In my house, she is most definitely getting a raise.
I let her in, put my music back on and go to my laptop.
Two minutes later she comes back horrified.
-Mister, house “bery, bery” dirty.
-Well what do you want, we are at war. Besides, I don’t know where you put the cleaning stuff. [Trying to make her believe that I was gonna clean!!!]
She goes back in and starts her work. I go back to the balcony with a soothing sense that things are slowly getting back to normal.
Stan Getz is now playing “Tonight I shall sleep with a smile on my face.”
(1) Major Lebanese Newspapers
(2) Major Israeli Newspaper