Rabieh felt a mixture of yearning and jealousy as the people in the video-some of whom he knew- danced and laughed to Pharrell’s “Happy”.
University students, old friends, children, and even manual laborers alike danced and clapped their hands with radiant, beaming faces. He missed Beirut and how it stank of borderline personality disorder: the country had been on the verge of collapse for as long as anybody could remember yet still it tried, often in vain, to put an image of strength and show off what little beauty it had left.
Nothing had changed since his departure; it had only been a month, after all.
He decided he’d had enough and shut the tab housing the video. He reopened Facebook on impulse-years of wasting time on the internet hammered that habit into him-and scanned his newsfeed.
A picture immediately caught his attention: a balcony view of a street in Beirut with two masked gunmen standing guard before a closed shop.
The hell? He thought as he opened two more tabs to get an idea of things. He punched in the addresses to local news agencies and was instantly greeted with, “Gunfire Heard in Beirut Neighborhood” and “Pro and Anti-Syrian Regime Gunmen Clash in Beirut Suburb”.
Rabieh closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. Nothing had changed.
He thought back to the video and how happy the people in it seemed.
“It was all an act,” he told himself. Personal situations aside, the fact that they were still there-a good number of them unable to leave as easily as he did thanks to his dual nationality-automatically marked them as miserable at heart, only donning masks so that the rest of the world would be convinced to come and spend their money in Lebanon’s clubs and beaches.
And yet Rabieh had witnessed-hell, he’d taken part in-that damn-those-barbarians, devil-may-care attitude of partying all worries away. After all, wouldn’t dancing in that video if he had been asked to? Didn’t he miss that bizarre duality that governed the lives of him and everyone else in Lebanon?
He checked the time on his computer and read 3:10 AM on the display.
This isn’t the time for introspection, he thought. There’s always another time for that.
He prepared himself for bed and shut down his computer.
“Oh, home,” he sighed as he placed the computer to the side and tucked himself in.
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