بيروت هتروتوبيا
اكيرا تاكاياما

غرفة رقم ٢
مايا زبيب
«سامي»

صوت: دانيا حمود
مصممي الديكور:عبير سقسوق

شخصيات القصة

شخصيات هذه القصة هي ابنة ووالدها. ينتميان للطبقة العاملة المتوسطة. ثمة شقيقان وشقيقتان، بطلة القصة هي أصغر الأبناء.
يقطنان شقة مستأجرة في الطابق الأرضي من إحدى بنايات منطقة الحمرا. راهناً، لا يسكنها سوى الأم.

الأب
كان يعمل في التجارة، ونزح إلي المدينة في سن مبكرة، بعد أن هجر الدراسة. فتح مع شقيقيه متجراً للبقالة في حقبة الخمسينيات. كان يجيد عدداً من اللغات نظراً لتردد الأجانب على بيروت، خصوصاً الحمرا في تلك الحقبة، أي قبيل الحرب وأثنائها. هاجر الشقيقان إلى أميركا في التسعينيات، لذا يتحدّث أبناؤهم الإنكليزية، ويجيدون العربية بدرجة ما.

الأم
ربة منزل، أنهت تعليمها الأساسي وكانت في طريقها لأن تكون معلّمة رياضة، ولكنها هجرت طموحها بعد الزواج. لطالما راودها حلم أن تصير مطربة أو كاتبة. نشرت مؤخراً كتاباً للأطفال.

تتحدّر الأم والأب من الضيعة نفسها في الجنوب اللبناني. حماة الأب هي ابنة عمه.

ليسا متشدّدين دينياً، ولا يواظبان على الشعائر ولا يحتفلان بالأعياد. يشكّك الأب والأم في وجود الله، ولكنهما لا يجهران بذلك في العادة، وإن كان الأمر ليس بالخفيّ. ولكنهما يفضّلان الجهر بإيمانهما (تحسّباً وتجنّباً لإثارة حفيظة الآخرين).

لا تهتم العائلة بالروحانيات عموماً. الصلة بين أفراد العائلة وطيدة، وإن كانوا بعيدين عن بعضهم البعض… لا يخفون أمراً عن بعضهم البعض… تقريباً! غريب، ولكن هكذا الحال.

الشقيقة والشقيقان تكتب قصص الأطفال، ويدير الشقيقان مطعمين لبنانيين.

الابنة,
درست المسرح في لبنان ولندن، وتعمل في إحدى الفرق المسرحية. تزوجت من خارج ملّتها، من فنان أيضاً. غنوصية مع بعض التصوف.

الخادمة
لم يكن للعائلة خادمة مقيمة بالمنزل قط. تطلب الأم أحياناً من عاملة سريلانكية أن تعاونها في أعمال النظافة. ولكنها تقوم بمعظم أعمال المنزل بنفسها، رغم أعوامها الثلاثة والسبعين. ولمّا تعد العاملة بالقدوم ثم تخلف وعدها، وهو ما يحدث كثيراً، تقوم الأم بتنظيف الدار بمفردها.

تتفق العائلة على كرهها لإسرائيل.


Beirut Heterotopia
Akira Takayama

Room 2
Maya Zbib
Sami

Narrated by: Danya Hammoud
Set Designer: Abir Saksouk

Family Profiles

The characters are a daughter and her father. They are part of a middle class working family, the daughter in this story is the youngest.

They lived in a rented ground-floor apartment in Hamra. At the moment only the mother lives there.

THE FATHER
He used to be a merchant who moved to the city at an early age and left school. He used to work in a mini-market that he opened in the 50s with his brothers. He used to speak several languages due to the influx of foreigners in Beirut and more precisely in Hamra, before and during the war. The two brothers immigrated to the United States in the nineties. Their children speak mostly English and broken but ok Arabic.

THE MOTHER
She is a housewife who finished school and was going to become a sports teacher, but gave up on that when she married. She always dreamt of becoming a singer or a writer. She recently published a children’s book.

The mother and father both come from the same village in the South of Lebanon. The father’s mother in law was actually his cousin. They are not religious; they never practice any religious rituals nor celebrate any religious festivities. The father and mother are both sceptical about the existence of God, they don’t verbalise it often but it’s evident. However they prefer to say God exists (to be on the safe side and not to hurt anybody’s feelings!)

The family is not spiritual at all. They are quite distant from each other, but at the same time very attached to one another… they tell each other everything… almost! Strange combination! But true!

THE SISTER AND THE BROTHERS
She writes children’s books and the two brothers own and run two Lebanese food restaurants.

THE DAUGHTER
She studied theatre in Lebanon and London and she works in a theatre company. She married someone who’s from another religion, also an artist. She is agnostic with a touch of mysticism.

THE HELP
The family never hired a domestic worker to live with them. The mother sometimes asks a Sri- Lankan domestic worker to come help her clean. However even at 73, she still does most of the work with her. And when she says she’s coming and doesn’t come – which happens often – the mother usually cleans the whole house by herself.

All the family agrees that they really hate Israel.


The Story
The only conversation… maybe
Florida. Table at a Lebanese restaurant. 2015.


– Her: Are you happy here?
He doesn’t answer. He cries. It was the third and last time I saw him cry. The first time was when his mother died. I didn’t know he loved her. The second time was when he closed down the grocery shop, it was his life.

Her: Do you want to go back?
Him: No. You think I can still go back?
Her: Of course, always.
Him: It’s my fault, I never knew how to keep a job. I can’t go back, I must stay here, there’s work here.
Her: You worked all your life, you can rest now.
Him: There’s no rest!


What is it that ties my father to the city of Beirut?
Walks in Hamra Street. Playing backgammon in front of the shop… any shop. Strolls on the corniche. There are other things for sure, things I don’t know about. Things I can’t imagine… Or maybe not… That’s it… It’s enough.

Krefeld. A kitchen table with a bowl of apples. 2014.
A gray pigeon on the kitchen balcony will remind me where I am.
These apples are pretty. But tasteless.
In this city I will develop a relationship with birds, They will feel like my family.
This man sitting on the bench in the public garden will remind me of my father. He is my father. He looks like him and he puffs like him. He also lives in a country to which nothing ties him, waiting for something he refuses to name. My father did not talk when he sat alone in the café, but he cried in his sleep… I always see him sitting on the chair puffing. When he didn’t puff smoke, he puffed air…

Her: Only America knew how to make you stop smoking after fifty years.
Him: I quit before I left.
Her: You quit to go there.

Sanayeh Garden. A man reading a newspaper. 2017.

I followed him from Labban Street. He wears jeans and a blue shirt, and smokes. Viceroy? He greets every shopkeeper from Leon Street until Kabbushiyye. He buys a newspaper. He goes into Sanayeh garden. He watches two men playing backgammon. He sits on the bench and starts to read. My father doesn’t read newspapers. But this man could be my father. He also is one of those people who come to resemble the city they inhabit. Like its guardians. I decide to speak to him.

Florida. An apartment on a high floor overlooking the sea. A hospital bed in the living room. The smell of medicine. 2017.

I worried that my brain would freeze for a moment, that I would find nothing to say. I felt it was my responsibility to find all the important subjects I should talk about, to find the right words at the right time before time ran out, before finding out what year you actually came to Beirut… How old were you when you worked at the slaughterhouse? Where you really four years old?? What do you mean you were four? How did they treat you? Did no one bully you? Or was life the best it could be in the forties? – aside from the second World War I mean… And then you worked in the port? Or am I imagining things? Did you never think of getting on a boat and leaving for good? Of raising a family in Venezuela like my great grandfather? Did you ever love a woman other than my mother? And my mother, did you really love her? Did you know that she loved you, although she always said the opposite? What is love to you? I know you love children very much. You never asked me why I don’t have children yet. What did you dream of on those nights you screamed, the past few years? Maybe not just a few years, but since you closed down the shop in 2001? Why were you convinced that it was your fate to travel for work, even in your seventies? When do people like us retire? None of your children found a serious employment, we are all condemned to work for perpetuity… What does America mean to you? Why can’t you say that you hate it? Say it dad, say: “I hate America, I don’t want to live here.” You have the right to make decisions, you know? You won’t inconvenience anyone. On the contrary, it would be a relief…

Sanayeh garden. A man reading a newspaper. 2017.

Her: Hello.
The Man: Hello.
Her: Can I ask you a question?
The Man: Go ahead.
Her: Can I talk with you for a bit?
The Man: What about?
Her: May I sit down?
The Man: Go ahead.
Her: Can we pretend that you are my father? That I’m asking you questions about your life, and you’re free to answer or not.
The Man: Like a play?
Her: Something like that, like in the theater.
The Man: Is this candid camera or something?
Her: No there’s no camera. Just you and me, here on the bench. You don’t have to do anything, just listen, and if you have an answer, answer. It doesn’t even have to be a true answer, you can make things up, but I shouldn’t feel that you are lying… I mean the answer has to sound real. What do you say?
The Man: So it’s a game?
Her: Yes, a game!


A grocery shop in Hamra. At the cash register. 1995.
Empty Pepsi bottles, empty gas canisters, an account book covered in handwriting. The cash register is tidy, the money bills organized. I organized them: thousand on top of thousand, dollar on top of dollar, fives on top of fives, tens on top of tens, twenties on top of twenties… Fifty and hundred dollars and large Lebanese bills under the drawer.
The neighbor asks for chocolate with a smile, you give him a pack of Durex. In the account book you write “cho-co-late” $5.

Him: They told me they saw you sitting on the building stairs with some guys. Who are they?
Her: Nobody dad, just Nader the son of uncle George and Khalil our neighbor and his friend and Lubnan, you know Luban… Who told you?
Him: Wael.
Her: What business is it of Wael’s?
Him: …


The shop. 1991

Him: Those Murabitun guys in front of the shop, don’t talk to them anymore, they’re bad.
Her: They talk to me!
… I don’t recall his face but I remember faded jeans torn at the knee, and a tight white Hanes t-shirt tucked under the pants, and of course a weapon somewhere.

Beirut. A kitchen table with an ashtray. A small TV, turned on. Chef Antoine. My dad is concentrating. 2003.

Mom is in America, you and I are alone at home, and you feel seriously responsible for the cooking.

Chef Antoine: “Today our episode is about chicken and vegetables stew. It’s a delicious recipe with turnips! Most people probably never feed their children turnips. Although turnips are very nutritious vegetables, they don’t contain any chemicals because they are not grown inside nylon or greenhouses. This is why we should cook dishes with turnips, to provide important nutritious elements, vitamins and minerals to our families and children… What I need for chicken and vegetable stew is first, one chicken from “Hawa Chicken”, turnips, 400 grams, carrots, 300, leek stems, potatoes, 500 grams, onions, 300 grams…”

Three minutes passed… the time of a song… Three minutes are a long time in music. But in life, three minutes must be short. Why am I feeling them to be so long?

Him: You ate?
Her: Yes I was having dinner.
Him: There are kishk pies in the refrigerator, I made them today.

… hot pepper, onions, onions, onions… green peppers… red peppers… everything in excess. If there’s one thing I inherited from you, it’s this… “excess”.

I’m very forgetful. I get things mixed up. This exercise is very difficult. 2017.

“You who travel alone… You who travel alone … passing me…” I’m singing it in my head non-stop… “Why leave me far behind? … why leave me and trouble me…” I feel I am Little Najat.
Once you told me that I look like Shadya. I would have preferred you to say Suad Husni, but Shadya… Why not! I was crying once and you said to me:

Him: Don’t cry anymore, although your eyes are beautiful when you cry.

The next man who said this to me after you, I married.


“He left without a farewell…”
It turned out it’s a girl daddy. You will not take her to the shop, or for a walk along the corniche, you will not teach her to clap, and your face will not light up when you see her.
“It’s enough that I have surrendered my heart…”

Hamra. The living room. Three o’clock after midnight. 2001.

I get back home drunk. You’re waiting for me. I go straight to the bathroom. My head is in the bidet. You’re knocking on the door. I don’t hear you. You look through the window, you call my name. I wake up.
Next morning, I’m in bed.

Him: You drank too much?
Her: Not much, just a beer…
Him: You shouldn’t drink so much.
Her: Ok.

Florida. Table at another Lebanese restaurant. 2016.

– Her: Did you skin the animal or just dye the leather?
– Him: We used to stretch it and soak it to reduce its smell, and then we’d dye it. We’d check if the inner part was good, in that case it would be made into suede, otherwise it would be used as normal leather.
– You make it sound so easy.
(He laughs)
The idea of you working as a child in a slaughterhouse used to amaze me. I used to imagine you were like Grenouille, the character in the story “Perfume”, which all the kids of my generation read at school. That boy who was born in the fish market and worked in a tannery when he was eight years old. He didn’t speak much either, but he was a murderer, and psychologically disturbed! The stink of death, the idea of a child among dead animals, wretched, skinned, destined for consumption, to be worn or stepped on…. I felt them to be so violent. Is it possible that you had another life of which I knew nothing?

Not long ago you said to me:
Him: Soon you should open a theater.
I was surprised you didn’t say: Soon you should get a job at university, for example.
We opened a theater next to the slaughterhouse… I always picture you in the sixties, walking from Burj Hammoud to Karantina, passing the factory, part of which is today a theater, on your way to Mar Mikhael where you enter the cinema. You were a little sad when they demolished it.

Quasi-chronological sequence. Live broadcast. Amazement. Silence.

1999: The Gulf War. He’s sitting in front of the television.
2001: September 11. He’s sitting in front of the television.
2003: The invasion of Iraq. He’s sitting in front of the television.
2005: The assassination of Hariri. He’s sitting in front of the television.
2006: The July War. He’s sitting in front of the television.
2008: Gaza. He’s sitting with the phone in his hand.

2016: Mohamed Ali Clay’s death. Facetime:
Him: Mohamed Ali Clay is dead!
Her: Yeah.
Him: He was sick.
Her: Yes.
Him: Turns out he’s my age, he was born in 42.
Her: Oh really?
Him: Yes… It scared me a bit to tell you the truth! I felt it wasn’t far off.
Her: May you live long and healthy dad.

2017: The TV is still on the news and the news is still shit.

Florida. A bed in the living room. Nighttime. 2017.

During those three days, I saw you and didn’t see you.
I don’t know what people do together in situations like these. In the movies they talk about death, the laws of existence, and they bid each other farewell. I don’t know how to say goodbye to him forever. Did you know you were going to die? What were you thinking of? Your body like a paper, floating on the bed. Your legs thin like Ghandi’s. Your nails infuriating me. I soak them in water. I cut them. I file them.
The sea will miss you, the Mediterranean… the Atlantic….
Florida, the city of the elderly, swallowed you. A young old man. She kept you. She put him in a neat box, wrapped him in a ribbon with a name and roses, like in the movies. The fate of traders and sailors is to die in a foreign country. To be here and there. Scattered. Far. Silent.
The cancer made a little bird out of you.
I hold your heart in my hand. Your tears in my palm. A little song about solitude.

This exercise is very difficult… Maybe I am trying to find substance in an empty place. Maybe our relationship has no substance.
I hate your silence.
Why must I be the one to always find something to say?
Say something…
I decided to steal a dialogue from a play to impose substance.

King Lear. Chapter 4, Scene 7.
Florida. A bed in the living room. 2017. Loose adaptation.

Her/ Cordelia: How are you father?
Him/ King Lear: Why are you tormenting me, waking me from my grave?
Her/ Cordelia: You recognize me?
Him/King Lear: You are a spirit, when did you die?
Her/ Cordelia: Look at me, give me your hand… No don’t kneel!
Him/King Lear: Don’t mock me, I’m a silly old man, almost 80 years old. I feel I should know who you are, but I’m not certain. I don’t know where I am, I don’t remember these clothes or where I slept yesterday. Don’t laugh at me. But I’m almost sure you are my daughter Cordelia.
Her/ Cordelia: Yes I am Cordelia
Him/King Lear: Don’t cry, if you have poison I can drink it. I know you love me, and have every reason.
Her/ Cordelia: I have no reason at all.
Him/King Lear: Am I in France?
Her/ Cordelia: You’re in your kingdom.
Him/ King Lear: Don’t lie to me.
Her / Cordelia: Would you like to take a walk with me?
Him / King Lear: Bear with me, Forgive me. I’m an old man and a fool.