War and Eid

I’ve been actively avoiding social media these days. Everyone is filled with the holiday spirit, and I don’t want to infect anyone with my grumpiness. I mean, I do wish that everyone would have a joyous and festive Eid, but I also want to mope and complain that I’m still displaced, that the electricity keeps getting cut, that the bombs haven’t stopped, etc. etc.

That’s not something people want to read on Eid, and especially not people in Benghazi, who do not need to be reminded of the reality we still continue to live in. That’s why I have stayed my tongue (or rather, my fingers) from writing anything and being this year’s Eid Grinch.

And then I remembered that I’ve been neglecting my blog. I have been rather busy these days, but that isn’t why I’ve been avoiding writing anything here. I think it’s because I’ve discovered that more people are reading it than I thought, which kinda weirds me out. I write the way I talk; to hear my thoughts out loud. The fact that people are listening means I have to be more careful with what I say. And that’s just annoying.

But it’s Eid, and people are too busy celebrating to read a blog post, and I really need to get some stuff off of my chest.

Like, for example, the fact that this Ramadan was much better than the horrific, blood-soaked one we experienced last year, but that it still wasn’t very good. That it has now been seven months since I’ve last seen my house, and I have no idea whether it’s still standing or not. That all of my friends are in different countries around the world, and that I might never get to see them again.

Celebratory events and occasions help to push these things out of the way for a time, coating our grim existence with a veneer of mindless joy. But it no longer helps me, I feel that every uncertain day is eating away at me, as I try to grasp onto any constant in my life but finding nothing. I imagine that this is what it must be like to float out to sea, completely stranded and surrounded by miles of nothing in every direction. I guess have some kind of existential agoraphobia.

It could just be a funk, and I’ll bounce back in a day or two. It could just be that while celebrations help people forget, they just brings things into a more focused perspective for me. We say, hopefully next Eid we’ll be back home, and things will be back to normal. But I don’t want to wait until the next Eid. What if things aren’t normal by then? Where will I even be at that time? When you live through a war, long-term thinking is a dangerous pastime.

People in Benghazi are trying to celebrate as normally as possible, as though we can’t hear the missiles overhead, or ignore the 12-hour power cuts. We’re exchanging plates of Eid pastries and people are uploading pictures of themselves in traditional outfits as they greet each other in our streets and houses. You can almost tangibly feel the conscious effort people are making not to brood on the war. We fasted for a month, and in difficult circumstances, we deserve to celebrate! We need to forget, and this is as potent an opium as we can find.

So we’ll revel for a few days, pretend like everything’s tolerable, all the while secretly hoping and praying that this will end soon. Dear God please let it end soon.

I hope you have a happy Eid.

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