the little girl in the pink zebra-striped suit

I found this draft lying around, unpublished, so I thought I would edit it with my current very fresh eyes (it's 23:37 right now. The eyes are not only fresh, they are sparkling with life and no, not at all fantom-like or dreaming of night and its fragrant bedcovers.)

Which is why I went to bed and am now doing all the editing during daytime. (April 11, 2016)

Beirut, February 17, 2015

As I struggle to deal with a wave that has been yanked away from the shore, never to come back, never to explode on the rocks, on the sand, I have taken my feet to the streets to console my lonesome and accept it, once and for all.
(edit: With all its mystery (to me!), I will keep the opening sentence. I don't remember what I had in mind when I wrote it.)

The streets, however, are mischievous. And they fool me so well.

And as has been the case with me, ever since time became a limitless ocean, I had the regular fashion crisis, pre-going out, where nothing fits, or it's too bold, or it's a size large pale blue (men's) denim shirt (found at a thrift shop) over equally large blue pyjama pants. And let's be real, Beirut would never accept me looking like that. Of course, I care very little about what Beirut thinks. I like Beirut (~Do I though? I'll leave that open for debate.~) It's the people I don't like. And it's their judgemental faces I didn't want to see. Eventually, I swapped the denim shirt for an orange dress, and I looked slightly more feminine (*gasp* because God forbid I should allow myself to pick comfort over presentability and femininity in Lebanon) and less like I was going to attend the bestest, most, preposterous (but also bedazzling) pyjama party ever.

Why am I talking about all of this? Yes, all of this is to say that the only reason I insisted on dressing up in this ridiculous outfit, was because I was oddly longing to wear (and walk in) an old pair of Chelsea boots (that I thought looked great! with the rest of my clothes.)

But that, dear readers, was a bad, bad move. The boots, tight as they were, bruised me with a brutish force that I never expected out of a fine pair of leather shoes. But more on that later.

There was one thing that particularly bothered me about my walk. Something that I then generously obsessed over a few hours after it happened. After walking into the bookstore and purchasing an (expensive) magazine that I did not need nor had the luxury to pay for, I started towards the AUB campus, where I planned to read said magazine in peace. Once on Hamra street, a little girl jumped to greet me and ran, trying to catch up with my brisk walking. She held out her hand, begging for money. My earphones were plugged in and I tried to ignore her.

I have never considered myself to be superior to anyone, least of all to children in need on the streets. Nor have I ever wished to act upon it. So I don't really know why I shrugged her off. She momentarily tried to latch onto my arm, and I, with a big, mean frown on my face shook my arm to get away from her. I was irritated with her. The little girl stumbled and nearly fell, and I somehow held her by the shoulder briefly as she straightened up. When I fully looked back at her (not without a mix of pity and guilt,) I noticed that she wore a pink zebra-striped suit. Tight-lipped, I nodded my head at her, contemplating in that half-second the cruel monster that I had been. The monster I did not recognise in myself.

Context: Ever since I returned from Glasgow, no– ever since I graduated with my degree in design, and through my two years of working in advertising, I have been going through a rough time. On some days, I can muffle the pain with distractions that range from baking, to reading, to adding useless filters onto my photos, right down to creating online dating profiles. Even walks confer on me a semblance of peace these days. But there are days where I cannot hide behind this fake insouciance. Where self-doubt and fear come bursting out of me– angry, infuriated, brutal.

That is is exactly how I felt that day. Sad, afraid and confused. And these three manifested through my irritability and anger at the little girl. (Although Donald Trump would argue that I was on my period. But Donald Trump is a prick and I pity the fool who married him. Or maybe I pity him for living with women who go through menstruation? *evil laugh* I don't know.)

Anyhow. The fact is, that it is easy to be on the privileged side –with clothes to keep me warm in the wintertime and the basic roof over my head as I sleep in my large but cozy bed– and it is easy to shrug someone off just because, say, you're not really "in the mood". But that does not mean that it is the right thing to do. And far from preaching any form of lesson on here, I am merely trying to better understand my behaviour, and what I could have done instead of shrugging off the little girl.

Instead of disdain, instead of exasperation, there was one thing I could have done, spared, really. And that is kindness. Kindness. I could have –should have– been kind. I should have been patient. And empathetic. Last I checked, those were free to give. And I should have given them

There are days where I have tried to help, with change, a sandwich. But I have to be honest and admit that more often than not, I do not help by means of giving money. I sometimes stop, ask for their names, their age, smile to them. Often, they smile back, they are happy to be noticed, given attention to. For a while, I think, they forget that they were asking for money, just a second ago. They become kids again. Soon enough, however, they remember again.

But these are children. And sadly, the streets, the pavements abound with them. Children who have left their home country by force, due to war, losing family, friends, toys and little bits of themselves in the process. I may have lost my father at a young age, but I had everything I wanted growing up. *emo alert* Save for an emotional void in my heart, where my dad's face, voice, love should have been, I missed out on nothing. My mum made sure of that. These kids, I can't say the same about them. Barely into their childhood, and already capable of filling pages upon pages of hardships and struggles that no one should face at any age.

(Side note related to *emo alert* : Somebody once hinted that I had daddy issues. "Daddy issues," is something often heard/tossed around humorously in American movies to mock certain characters, an expression I cannot tolerate any more than I can tolerate cows' cooked intestines, tongues, or livers. )

The incident left me feeling empty and bleak, and after I had arrived at the university campus, there was little I could do to erase the image of the joyful child, in a zebra-striped, fuchsia overall trying excitedly to get my attention. I read the magazine superfluously, and then decided to head back home. By that time, my boots were burning the sides of my feet. I swallowed volumes of exhaust fumes as I swallowed back my tears from the pain.

The walk had turned into a drudgery, and I was dying to arrive home. I reached a sidewalk that was lined–barricaded, really– with motorbikes (which I cursed with passion under my breath.) They prevented me from actually going onto the sidewalk. I found a vacant spot, between a bike and a tree and decided that my very svelte body could slip through there perfectly. What I had not noticed, however, was that the tree had rather low branches. As soon as I stepped on the sidewalk, my head hit the tree abominably. Now, you know how everyone says that when you cry after accidentally knocking your head onto something or the other, generally, it's your ego that's in pain, not your actual bruise? That is exactly how it felt. A chunky bruise to my ego, and my tears were unstoppable.

I recounted the events of the day, which called for a full immersion in self-pity: unfairly trying to get away from the little girl, causing her to nearly fall, wearing the wrong boots, getting the most outlandish bruises on my toes, and finally, slamming into a tree. And you know how I love trees.

The important things to remember are, that at least, I can come on here and write about it. And subsequently feel good. This update comes not from February 17, but from much much later. The bruised toes were an inconvenience as they rubbed (thus hurt) when I put on anything! But eventually, and like most things (and organs, hey heart, looking at you!) they healed. I will have you know that they are now in tip top shape. The children, unfortunately, are still on the streets.

I must think of ways to help. 


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