“The Situation”

In Arabic, we call it “al-wade3“.

I used to think of it as just a regular word, not worth a second thought. But ever since I came back to Lebanon, it’s taken on a pretty specific meaning.

Al-wade3“. The situation. “Al-wade3 mish muree7.” “Ma 3ajibni al-wade3.

“The situation isn’t stable.” “I don’t like the situation.”

Statements my mother’s said several times in the two years I’ve been here.

I hear it and I think of a thermometer with the mercury rising. How far is it? How much time do we have before it hits the boiling point?

Are we going to be inundated with news of burning tires, closed-off roads, car bombs, and political assassinations? Or can we count on some semblance of normalcy for another month or two?

Lebanon is your extremely temperamental landlord. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. Will you be left alone and allowed to live your life? Or will he knock on your door with a semi-automatic in hand and threats on his tongue?

Yesterday the rising mercury manifested itself in the form of 50 kilograms of explosives packed in a single car.

The price we paid:

  1. The life, and intended target, of Wissam Al-Hassan, a high-profile Internal Affairs agent.
  2. The lives of seven or eight bystanders. Some say more.
  3. Injury to eighty people, many of whom are in critical condition. Some say more.
  4. Devastation of several homes, because the bomb was planted in a residential area. (In Lebanon, when it’s time for your elimination, no one cares about a little collateral damage).

Tires are burning. Protests are under way. Buses are being attacked by rock-throwing men armed with knives.

Blame is being thrown left and right.

And people are scared to leave their homes.

So how’s al-wade3?

Scalding, thanks for asking.

We’ll let you know when it becomes Lucifer’s holiday retreat.

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