June 13, 2011

On Happiness and Sadness

Happiness is to be the first one to arrive at the beach!

For some reason I’ve been very busy, and haven’t been able to go to the beach much this year. I’m as white as a milk bottle, and I’ve got to get some tan before I go to Holland for the summer. God knows you won’t get a tan in Holland, although it seems this spring has been their warmest in 100 years. But right now it seems it’s raining over there, and that’s exactly my point.

I could go to the beach in Europe, of course, but once you’ve ‘beached’ in Lebanon, I’m afraid the beach experience in Europe is a major disappointment. I don’t mind slumming it, but not in the heat and sand. I’d rather tan ‘the easy way’  and avoid the beaches while in France or Holland.
And so SIL and I met up in at one of my favorite beaches on the south side of Beirut. This particular beach has a little lagoon with a narrow canal in and out that connects it to the surf. With every wave, there’s this surge of water rushing through that little canal. What did our kids do ALL day? Hang on to the walkway that bridges the little canal, and hold on until the currents gets too strong and you have to let go, pushing you all the way into the lagoon. You then swim back really fast to get hold of that bridge again before the next wave comes crashing in. Cheap entertainment, but it does the job. It’s 7 in the evening now, and my daughter wants to go to bed.

On the way back, a very sad accident had taken place right before we passed by. An older lady, dressed in a dark red velvety robe, the kind the village ladies often wear, had tried to cross the highway.
There are very few overpasses on this highway, and it cuts right through the coastal land, with farmland on both sides. People have no choice but to cross over if they do not have a car. I've seen them do it frequently.
Apparently she had already made it past 3 lanes, but on the 4th towards the mid-barrier, she got clipped. It is a major highway, and none of these cars drive less than 90 kph.
And there she lay, on the tarmac, all frail and disheveled. Her slippers were gone. The bystanders weren’t even occupying themselves with her, it was that clear to all around that she was very dead. They just stood around her, moving cars around the body, and waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

And I am thinking, how bizarre life is. Summer has just arrived for us; we’re planning for a new season with new discoveries, memories and experiences on its way, while hers just ended. How cheap a human life is, to end like that, on a 4-lane highway, on a lazy Sunday, while people are coming back from the beaches, and they stare at you as you lie there, lifeless. I hope she had a good life, but in this place, even that is not a given.


Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

What you described are very intense moments of awareness, of experiencing the contrast between joyful life and sad death. Not long ago I experienced a day like that, with striking contrasts between new life emerging and and old life ending. In a way it was a comfort: Life is for the living.

Still, seeing this old lady lying there dying such an undignified death is disturbing.

Danielle said...

I can't add anything more to the last comment. Powerful read Seitske.