About Caline Nasrallah

I am a student at Université Saint-Joseph completing my graduate studies in translation and editing. I enjoy reading, writing, and boxing. I have a passion for putting into words what seems too fleeting and ephemeral to be recorded so permanently. Traductrice- Rédactrice promo 2017 École de traducteurs et d'interprètes de Beyrouth Université Saint-Joseph

The Twilight in my Beirut

I take the seaside road as often as I can.

There’s something about it at sunset. The way the sea shimmers under the slowly fading sunlight, looking like it would be boiling to the touch. The way everything is awash with the subdued yellows and pinks of another day come to a close. The way it becomes so easy to forget the disappointments of the city when it offers so much beauty every evening. And when you reach the bend in the road, the way the mountains appear before you… there’s something about a Beirut sunset.

So I drive, and as my foot unconsciously works the pedals, I think. Will I miss this? Will it miss me? Will I come back one day to find it completely changed, and will it accept the new me who will also have definitely changed? Do I have the right to claim this place as mine when I’ve wanted to leave for so long?

Something about my nostalgia feels… fake. Leaving feels like too much of a dream come true for me to be sad. Yet I am, and I wonder, is leaving always so bittersweet? So many people of my generation find themselves at a crossroads between two identities, two cultures, two nationalities, a struggle that leaves us feeling stranded, not knowing where we belong. Is it the outside we crave, or the inside we despise? Is it a combination of both? It somehow feels like I am incapable of belonging fully to my Beirut, as much as I would like to. Such is the fate of someone who has always lived between two cultures. Even by way of language, I write this in English, not Arabic. The double standard is therefore clear: how could I pretend to fully belong to this tiny Arab country overlooking the Mediterranean? Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan said it best, “I’m not sure I know what it’s like to belong to one place.” I have reached the twilight of my stay in Beirut. It must not be shocking to realize I am falling in love with it… after all, the sun’s dying rays always did paint a beautiful picture.

In the end, I can wonder all I want, dragging you along with me on this ride to which there is no end in sight. I have asked all these questions and have offered no answers – if you have any, I’d be glad to hear them. But if I do know one thing, it is that I believe home is not a place. Home is a feeling.

So I take the seaside road while I still can.

 

 

 

A blank WhatsApp screen and what it means

Is there anything more dreaded than opening a frequently used app – yes, a virtual application – only to find it wiped clean, a white screen? Why are we so attached to things that have no real effect or concrete presence in our daily lives? Why is their disappearance so upsetting, its effect so real?

 

White. Blank. Nothingness. While this might sound too dramatic, it barely scratches the surface in describing the intensity of what I felt when I opened my WhatsApp one fine April morning to find all my chats gone – all the memories I had amassed over a long period of time, a matter of years, gone, just like that.

The knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away. The more I thought about what I had lost, the more my mood dampened. Feeling ridiculous, I sought solace in my friends, telling them what had just happened in hopes of being understood. And to my utter surprise, one of their responses put in very concrete terms the very abstract feelings that were bothering me: you didn’t lose your chats, you lost your memories. And it hit me just how much our generation relies on keeping records of every step taken, every meal eaten, every country visited. Be it in photos or extensive chats, most communication (and in that sense, memory-keeping!) nowadays occurs online, and losing the trace of those “concrete” memories leaves a gaping hole that can no longer be filled: those days are gone, and with them now the proof that they ever occurred. They can no longer be revisited in full; they are confined to the treacherous workings of human memory that too often can color past occurrences in very subjective ways.

This incident got me thinking: how attached are we, this technological, hyper-connected generation, to the virtual world? How much of our lives actually occurs online? How much of our memories are stored online? How does that affect us, be it in a positive or negative manner, in our daily lives?

Even after contemplation and soul-searching, the answer escapes me. I do not know whether or not such record keeping is good for us, keeping us rooted to the reality of things, or whether the reality of things lies in the real moment in which they happened. And were it not for the virtual world, I would not even be able to share these ideas with you as I am right now – food for thought.

That’s it for now – but what about you, what’s your two cents? Who knows, maybe if we all pool our ideas, we’ll come to some sort of a conclusion!