we never met.

still i am grieving your loss.

i am in mourning even though until you left, i had no idea how blessed we were having you in our midst.

the reality – certainly in beirut – is that rather than degrees of separation there are most often circles that are if not intertwined, then very close to each other. and so i saw yesterday that friends of mine on social media were mourning the loss of a dancer. a syrian palestinian dancer who danced and then leapt off the seventh floor of a building.

being the daughter, granddaughter, great niece, great cousin, etc. of men and women who in different times in history, under different circumstances took the decision to end their lives, i feel deep pain and empathy for you.

i am haunted by the thought of what went through your mind, what you felt in your heart, the morning of your last day, the moment you stepped onto the stage for the last time. the moment you decided to do this most counterintuitive act. the lack of alternative exit routes.

your suicide also highlights that the glass is as full as it is empty… there are indeed many laudable initiatives, some quite recent, that have enriched the art scene and created new opportunities  in beirut. still, it’s not enough and many talented artists struggle to just about make ends meet, in a city with exorbitant rents and living costs, with no government subsidies or programmes to foster the arts and private and foreign patronage that reaches some but not enough.

those who at present want to dare a new start in a new country, are faced with near insurmountable borders. Hassan, being syrian palestinian, was quasi stateless. how can anybody living on a planet as vast as ours, be stateless? and how can such a “stateless” individual not have a guardian angel, a good friend?

and then today i met S. we started talking and after some time, she confided in me and told me she was mourning someone. i immediately knew it was you.

she told me how outstanding a dancer you were. how international dance companies had seen you dance on beiruti stages and thought you ought to go abroad.

instead, your friends are trying to send your remains back to Damascus. to your mother. your two younger sisters; the youngest was so fond of you.

suicide is one of life’s biggest mysteries, a religious man told my mother, after my father had died, suggesting that empathy was most important and to steer away from blame or shame.

it is nonetheless hard, for those left behind, to state the cause of death. to accept the irreversible choice made. to avoid questioning whether or not this could have been prevented. more often than not, there are no answers.

what we do know is that we are all interconnected. after all, i never met you but we had friends in common. we could, if not you on stage and me in the audience, have met at a dinner.

we all have choices. to care or to retreat. to ask or to remain silent. to encourage or to walk away. to step out of a comfort zone or stay in the bubble.

suicide – also referred to as Freitod (free death) in German – is often connected to mental illness. the correlation sadly applies to many suicides. but certainly not all.

the disease that i believe struck Hassan was bureaucratic violence. for someone with wings made to soar to have his wings mutilated must have felt like being stoned alive. to stump out the pain he had to pay the ultimate price.

*my thoughts go out to all those mourning Hassan, especially to his mother and sisters



About Tales from a Small Country

I'm a project coordinator and features writer with a passion for the seventh art, a keen interest in culture and mobility, as well as social and environmental subjects. Half French, half German by origin possibly explains why I am drawn to divided countries and diverse societies: I called Cape Town in South Africa home for over a decade before coming to Beirut in early 2012. Besides people watching and cats, I also love Tripoli, Lebanon's second city.
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