One long summer in Lebanon

Palestine,” from which this is excerpted, is a memoir in monologue by writer and actress Najla Said, daughter of the late Palestinian American scholar Edward Said. Produced by Twilight Theatre Company in association with New York Theatre Workshop, it opens Wednesday at the 4th Street Theatre in New York and runs through March 21.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Najla Said Tuesday, July 11, 2006: I am in Beirut. My friend Alex calls and asks if I want to spend the day at the beach in Tyre with him and some other friends. A day on the most beautiful beach in Lebanon — why would I ever say no? We get down to Tyre and swim in the bluest water you can imagine.

The next day I stop in an Internet cafe. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that more than a few people have their computers on the CNN home page and are looking at “breaking news.” I ask that most common question in Lebanon — “Fee shee?” — which means, literally, “Is there something?” I'm told that it is no big deal; it's in the south, near the border; Hezbollah has captured some Israeli soldiers again. This is a common occurrence down south: Israelis capture Hezbollah soldiers, Hezbollah captures Israeli soldiers, back and forth and on and on. Figuring out “who started it” is like playing the chicken-or-the-egg game.

I go home early. I wake at 6 a.m to the familiar sound of bombs. There goes the airport. I guess I'm not going home.

The Israeli invasion of 2006 has officially begun. And I am here again, totally alone. My Lebanese family members are so accustomed to the sounds of war that they aren't much help. THEY can tell exactly how far away a bomb is and what kind of bomb it is; I can only hear that it sounds like it is downstairs.

“No, that's an echo over the mountain; it sounds like it's near Sidon,” my uncle might say.

But how can he tell???!!

“They're bombing the south; they are completely destroying Tyre; they're not bombing us.”

I think of the families I swam near the day before — they must all be either dead . . . or at least homeless.

“OH MY GOD . . . but I was JUST THERE.”

“Good thing you went on Tuesday and not Wednesday. HA HA HA HA HA.”

(This is Lebanese humor.)

More here.