If there’s anything that this blog has gotten people to think about me, it’s that I’m one of the staunchest advocates for Tripoli, one of my favorite Lebanese cities, and the capital of my mouhafazat. I know its streets all too well. I pride myself on being able to maneuver its shortcuts. I feel jubilant whenever I’m deep in conversation about it and can converse well in its history.
Tripoli also instills sadness in me when I see its current state, and the massive could-have-been that it is. I hope that future days are kinder on this city whose potential knows no bounds, which boasts some of Lebanon’s most impressive architectural and human feats, and whose imprint in our history as a country cannot be denied.
From its maarad, to its old souks, to its citadel, to the river running in its midst, to its restaurant, to its people. I’ve written about it many times. I’ve told you how awesome it is countless times. I’ve defended it against those who don’t understand its dynamics as many times. I’ve invited you to visit it as often as I can, and I still do, especially now that kinder weather is approaching.
Earlier today, a friend of mine linked me to a magnificent video about Tripoli that I felt I needed to share with all of you. It’s the kind of videos that I wish our government knew how to make – and they tried to before, but decided to exclude anything and everything Northern from it. It’s the kind of videos that can get any Lebanese, no matter where they come from, to be absorbed in the history of that city, learn in the space of a few minutes about its rich past, feel the same sadness that I feel at its present, and yet also feel triumphant at the fact that it’s still standing on its feet despite all.
Nader Moussally, the creator and director behind the “Ana Tarablos,” should be commended on conveying onto his society a sense of humanness that few before him have managed to do. Although I’m not from there, his “Ana Tarablos” video makes me feel the sense of pride and even hope that I know any person from Tripoli would feel watching it, believing the future in store for this city is better than the present it has been forced to deal with through systematic negligence from the part of successive governments that don’t care and its own politicians that see it as nothing more than conquests to be rationed.
I couldn’t write this post before talking to Nader to help him further convey his vision. Like many people from Tripoli, Nader took his own city for granted before he moved to Beirut for his studies. The longing he felt to his city, as well as the sadness that overtook him as he started to further notice how forcibly deprived it is, Nader, away from the politics that he knows is killing his city, decided to support his city in the way he knows best: a movie that conveys how he feels about his city: one that is more like a mother than a town, inspired from the conversations with his own mother, to make his sentiment towards his home relatable to every Lebanese.
The video is that in which Nader imagines Tripoli to be a person and this is the message he believes Tripoli the person would tell the country in which it exists and the people that constitute it. It’s the message of a lover, of a disappointed friend, of a city that has known what it is for times to change and leave you behind.
Nader wanted Tripoli’s story to be narrated by someone whose voice echoes the history and depth that Tripoli is. The only person that seemed like a perfect fit was Khitam Lahham whose sighs in the video will penetrate your soul.
The text is glorious, and jubilant and worthy of the city it portrays :
عمري اكتر من٤٠٠٠ سنة… عندي اكتر من ٤٠٠ الف ولد… ما بحياتي فرقت ولد عن ولد… فتحتلن كل بوابي، هديتن أجمل صيغة، المع نحاس، احسن صابون، اشهى حلو … غسلت قلبون بالحمام و عطرت روحن بزهر الليمون … خيطلن أجمل تياب بالخان زرعت العِلم فيّن و عملتلّن اغنى مكتبة…
و لخفف عنّن خلقتلن اكتر من 20 صالة سينما عملتلّن ساحة و منشية تصارت نبضات قلبن تدق ع ساعتها…هندستلن احلى بيوت… جمعتن بالقهوة عَ لقمة كعكة و عصير خرنوب و تركت الحكواتي يخبرن عني و عن تاريخي بأخبارو لي ما بتخلص… خليت نهر ابوعلي يِبَوردلن قلبن عالمايلتين…
و لانن موهوبين و مميزين قلت ليش ما بعملن معرض … و ايه عملتا … اكبر معرض بلبنان و بالشرق ربيتن عالمحبة بالجامع و الكنيسة. خفت عليّن، ولإحمين عملتلن قلعة و سميتا عَ اسمي . عطيتن كل شي …غنيتن بكل شي و عكتر ما غنيتن سموني أمّ الفقير. مابذكر عذبوني ولادي هنه و صغار
… بس عكبر …هه… خليني ساكته . يمكن من كتر همومن نسيوني، هملوني و تركوني تصرت خايفي ع حالي مننن… آه… بس معليه… انا مني زعلانة لاني انا هون … باقية هون أنا العلم … أنا المعرض… انا العِلم … انا الفن …انا الفيحاء… انا القلعة… انا ام الفقير …انا .طرابلس
The English translation:
I am over 4,000 years old. I have more than 400,000 children I have never preferred one over the other.
My doors I opened wide, and gave them only the best Fine jewelry and copper Fancy soaps Delicious sweets Hammams to cleanse their hearts, the fragrance of orange blossom to fill their souls, exquisitely woven attire, deep-rooted education, and the richest library.
For them, I built over 20 cinemas and theaters, a square and a great clock to whose chimes their hearts beat. Beautiful homes I gathered them in my coffee shops. Fed them cookies and carob juice.
There, the storyteller recounted my history and told his never-ending stories. My Abou Ali River ran on both sides, refreshing their hearts when they grew talented and unique, I exhibited their work. What an exhibition! The largest in Lebanon and the East!
Both my mosque and my church taught them to love. I feared for them so I built a fort to protect them and named it after myself. I gave them everything. I kept granting them riches until I was named “Mother of the Poor.”
When they were young, my children were always good. But when they grew older… Ah Things got worse. Perhaps worries burdened them. They forgot me, neglected me, left me all alone. Now I’m afraid they might hurt me. But that’s okay I am not saddened. Because I’m still here, and here I’ll stay.
I am History. I am The Exhibition. I am Knowledge. I am Art. I am Al Fayhaa. I am The Fortress. I am the “Mother of the Poor.” I am Tripoli.
I leave you with the wonderful video: