بيروت هتروتوبيا
اكيرا تاكاياما

غرفة رقم ٤
فادي الطفيلي
أُخوَةُ السِلاح

صوت: زياد شكرون
تصميم الديكور:سابين سابا

شخصيات القصة

الأم
امرأة صعبة المراس، لا تخلو من بعض السذاجة على طريقتها الشخصية. تمسك بزمام الأمور في هذه العلاقة.

الأب
صاحب محل حلاقة، يتحدّر من إحدى قرى الجنوب اللبناني. أرسله والده إلى بيروت، التي انتقل إليها في سن الطفولة كي يمارس العمل ويعيل أسرته. لا يكثر الحديث، ولكنه كان ناشطاً اجتماعياً وسياسياً، إذ انضم إلى أحد الأحزاب السياسية في سن الرابعة عشرة. يعتبر الأب الروحي لا لأولاده فحسب، وإنما في محيط عائلته الأوسع.

الشقيق الأكبر
عالِمٌ غارقٌ في اهتماماته العلمية. حماسته يعدي بها أشقّائه الأصغر عمراً الذين تربطهم به صلة وطيدة، إذ يوليهم عنايته وكأنه والدهم. هو رب الدار الذي يعيّن المهام والأدوار فيها. لا يتدخّل الأب والأم في هذه المنظومة المُحكمة. في نهاية المطاف، تصبّ منظومته في صالح العائلة، سواء على الصعيد المنزلي أو خارجه.

الشقيق الأوسط
من النوع المغامر، ماهر للغاية، يتّسم بالحسّ العمليّ وبالفطنة.

الشقيقات
الكبرى تزوجت في سن صغيرة، تتمتع بروح طلقة وشخصية مغامرة. الوسطى تزوجت أيضاً في سن صغيرة، وسافرت لتعيش مع زوجها في الخارج. الثالثة والصغرى تربطهما علاقة وطيدة ببعضهما البعض وبأشقاهما، اللذين تشتركان معهم في اهتماماتهم ورفاقهم.

الراوي
إنها إحدى اللحظات القليلة التي أمضاها مع أسرته بأكملها: شقيقيه وشقيقاته الأربع ووالديه.

انتهى الحال بمعظم أفراد الأسرة في المهجر، كل منهم في ركن من أركان الأرض.


Beirut Heterotopia
Akira Takayama

Room 4
Fadi Tofeili
Brother in Arms

Narrated by: Ziad Chakaroun
Designer: Sabine Saba


Family Profiles

THE MOTHER
She is a strong-minded woman who’s also somewhat naïve in her own way. She holds the reins in her couple.

THE FATHER
He’s the owner of a barbershop, originally from a village in South Lebanon. Sent to Beirut by his father, he moved there while still a child to work and provide for the family. He is not a very talkative man, but was very active socially and politically, joining a political party at the age of 14, He is considered a father not only to his nuclear, but also to many in his extended family.

THE OLDEST BROTHER
He’s a scientist who’s fully absorbed in his scientific pursuits. He communicates his enthusiasm to his siblings to whom he is very close, taking care of them as if he were their father. He is the head of the household and assigns domestic tasks and roles. The mother and father don’t intervene in this well organized system. The system he set up ends up working in the family’s favour, domestically and beyond.

THE MIDDLE BROTHER
Adventurous type, very handy, practical and clever.

THE SISTERS
The eldest got married at young age, she has a free spirit and an adventurous character.
The middle sister also married young and travelled to live with her husband abroad. The third sister and the youngest sister have a close relationship with each other and with their brothers, with whom they share activities and friends.

THE NARRATOR
This moment was one of the few times he spent with his entire family: his two brothers, four sisters and parents.

Most of the family ended up immigrating, each to a different part of the world.

Brothers in Arms
When we reached the al-Nahr highway in the Sin el-Fil area, the heat of the declining day had begun to unwind in a daze on the roof of our azure blue car. Suddenly, bullets started ringing nonstop overhead. My older brother shouted to us from behind the driver’s wheel to lower our heads onto the back seat and to squeeze our bodies against the car floor. My mother was in the front seat next to my brother who was driving the Renault 12. I don’t know where the rest of the family had gone, my father and my four sisters, perhaps they were riding with a relative or a friend. We had to leave, unbeknownst to us, for the last time. My mother gathered a few small effects in a green shoulder bag. My older brother gathered some books, notebooks and files in a big box that he carried on his own. My second brother and I helped each other carry a tightly rolled up carpet with some stuff inside. Our eyes lingered on the walls and on our belongings for a little longer than usual, and we ran down the stairs at top speed as if jumping from one floor to the next until we reached the entrance. The elevator was dark, the electricity had been cut for two days and hadn’t returned, and there was no trace of the neighbors. The doors on all three floors were shut, with no sounds or movements behind them. We put the heavy rolled up carpet on the car floor between the back seat and the two front seats. The few other things we placed in the trunk, and we set off. When the bullets began to ring over us as we reached the middle of the al-Nahr highway, my older brother shouted for us to duck, and we stretched out on the rolled up carpet beneath us. Our heads on the black leather of the backseat rubbed against each other. My brother beside gave me a significant look, then winked towards the carpet below us and whispered: “This is not just a carpet dopey.” He said that while his hand stroked the carpet that was rolled face in and held things within. I stared out the way dopey is supposed to do. The sun was setting, throwing some of its weary rays on our heads on the backseat.

They were difficult, terrifying moments, perhaps fifteen minutes or a little more. When my brother announced from behind the wheel that we had reached Kaskas, we understood from his voice that it meant we were safe. We had a long and tiring journey ahead of us to the south along a complicated map of roads and newly improvised crossings and subsidiary roads that had sprung up suddenly between neighborhoods and districts. But we felt, in the wake of that stressful episode, that our journey was over, almost done with, and from the memory’s point of view, this was indeed the case. For the memories I have of that trip and its events are limited to the fifteen minutes we spent on top of the rolled up carpet beneath us on the car floor, squeezed between the front seats and the back seat, our heads on the latter and our hands gripping it tight. And it seems that it was then that my brother, who was huddled next to me for those fifteen minutes, came up with his theory about the Renault 12’s exceptional racecar potential. This theory he put to practice and attempted to prove over the course of two whole years, from 1980 to 1982, when he became a regular participant in the weekly car race on the Ramlet al-Baida boulevard, also called the race of the suicides. We reached the village at night and once again together we carried the rolled carpet with its load, this time to our refuge outside Beirut. From that moment onwards, he became keenly interested not only with what the carpet held inside it and everything he knew about that but also with the Renault 12, which would become his at sixteen after my older brother traveled abroad.
Life was thus then open to experiences that would heighten our individual obsessions and drive us to the limits of our possibilities. Crossing under gunfire seemed to me a straightforward trial, and I quickly absorbed it. The circumstances of the war dictated that we leave the area, that we save our skins by using our car’s utmost potential. And that is precisely what happened, and it made perfect sense. But our second exploit was different. And although I had played a role in carrying it out on the practical level, I discovered it in its final phase only, when we unrolled the carpet in the house. I was surprised to discover that what we had moved, wrapped inside the carpet, were in fact the Russian Simonov and Czech Kalashnikov rifles. I felt I had missed an essential part of that experience, namely its inception to which I hadn’t participated. I felt my brother’s experience of the event was opposite to mine, because he had been aware of the details from the start. And perhaps these repeated experiences with his full participation versus my repeated initial absences were what paved the way for him to later become an information engineer and program designer; while I am always on the brink of losing myself in words, searching for the transient sentences and details that went missing in these occulted moments. In any case, this is how we arrived from our first home, left behind for good: My mother carrying a green shoulder bag, my older brother carrying his box of belongings and my second brother and I carrying a carpet rolled around two military rifles, which were also wrapped in some woolen covers, with a few small cushions wedged between them so their metal doesn’t rub against each other’s. I don’t know when these two rifles ended up in our first home, how or why, who brought them, if they were brought together or if one followed the other, and which one arrived first, the Simonov or the Czech Kalashnikov. My brother most probably knew everything. All I knew was that they were among our intimate belongings, and that they were entering our refuge ahead of all the others. The truth is they “inaugurated” this home of ours, and launched the first displays of family life and activities there.

Before a year had passed, we had twelve pieces in our house of refuge. After the three Kalashnikovs came the Russian AS VAL, the light RPD and RPK-74 machine guns and the venerable Russian Dragonov sniper rifle, in all its elegance and grace. These rifles came to our house and stayed in our family closets; they joined our shooting trips and sessions, our meetings around disassembling, cleaning, oiling, and reassembling them, and our conversations about their special features, their role in combat and the ways to use them. I never got the chance to find out where the last three rifles came from; all I can remember is their presence among our home collection of weapons, with the other rifles in closet corners, behind clothes on hangers, or under the folded clothes, covers and sheets on the shelves.

When my older brother traveled to the United States three years later, we had moved to west Beirut to a new house my father had rented two months after we had left east Beirut. We would go to our house of refuge in the town for summer vacations, weekends, long school breaks or periodic asylum when battles in Beirut intensified. Our rifle collection remained in our summerhouse in the town. We weren’t there during the Israeli invasion of south Lebanon in the summer of 1982. One week, then two, three and four weeks passed and there was still no news from the town about any house raids. The mere mention of that possibility made us fall silent and filled us with gloom; for if it happened, our house would have been surely considered a military post and bulldozed from the foundations up. A month after the invasion we decided like many others to visit the town. My second brother was now the owner of the Renault 12; so he took my father, mother and I in his car, and we crossed the Israeli checkpoint at the Awwali River near Saida, the crossing point towards the occupied southern areas. We stayed in our house in the town for a week, during which my brother and I checked our firearms in the closets, between the hangers and under the folded clothes and sheets. We would do that at night, with only a few lights on and the curtains drawn over the windows. Then we would start our mission, taking them out one rifle after another, cleaning them, rubbing them with the special oil, then returning them to their warm places and dark corners. When we returned to Beirut a week later, each of us longed to bring all the rifles back with us. But none of us dared formulate this buried desire. My mother, who had never shown an interest in these weapons, did not disclose to us the reason for her second trip there alone come mid-autumn, months after our first visit to the occupied town. Things remained the same there, there we no house raids, at least not in our neighborhood. My mother went by taxi towards the end of September; very few residents remained in the town. She stayed for ten whole days. The day she returned, the driver of the mini-truck she had hired parked his truck where she asked him, right below the low terrace of the large bedroom, for the loading dock to be level with the terrace floor. With the driver’s help, my mother loaded four upholstered bed mattresses, as well as some pillows and cushions, which were secured on top of each other, wrapped in blankets and tied together with belts. She also added a few small belongings, foods and country provisions in some boxes and linen bags. The driver was famous in town for systematically following regulations, formalities and social proprieties since his days as a policeman. He did that in an unconscious and caricatured manner wherever he went, regardless of the person or party he interacted with. The man always wore an exceedingly well-ironed shirt, with his ID conspicuously jutting out of its pocket. When greeting or meeting someone for the first time, he would hasten to introduce himself by his first name, followed by his family name, the name of his father and his town as follows: “so the son of so from such town!” He would make his announcement extremely fast, and when we and others heard this introduction of his, we would try to suppress our laughter, usually with little success. When the driver reached the soldier at the checkpoint and lowered the window of the truck to hear his instructions, he hastened to present himself with his famous customary sentence: “so son of so from such town!” A silent spell followed, quickly broken by my mother’s smile while the soldier’s features relaxed. The soldier walked around the mini-truck, examining its luggage, then smiled and motioned the driver to continue towards Beirut.
We didn’t expect my mother to return from the town in a truck, and we didn’t know she would bring back stuff from our summer home. The sight of the pick-up truck being unloaded in front of our building’s entrance in Beirut was strange and a little absurd. Four large mattresses, one after the other, entered the house where the bedroom furniture was complete. We aligned the mattresses next to each other in the corridor between the bedrooms temporarily. In the evening my mother asked us to bring the mattresses from the corridor one by one and to lay them on the large carpet in the middle of the living room that was still almost bare except for the carpet, two armchairs and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. With the sewing scissors in her hand, she began to cut the stitches on the edge of every mattress, to raise their cotton covers and to probe their filling in a peculiar way. There, from the heart of the filling, our shiny weapons began to glint, one rifle after another. Three rifles in every mattress. Twelve rifles in total, from the smallest to the biggest, with their magazines and accessories, bullet cases and cleaning equipment, came out of the cotton and wool fillings, returned to join us at home, in the corners of our closets, among our clothes and bed sheets.