The First Time I Died

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I remember the first time I wanted to die was the day I committed suicide. I had to define the road that took me from the “state of being” to the “afterlife.”  It was the only decision I ever took, and I am grateful.

It was because of the eyes, since they were omnipresent, lidless and ceaselessly gazing at me. At times it seemed to be a daydream, those oculars that had nothing to do, no function whatsoever but to watch me, to follow me and to make me feel miserable.

I had to suffer in silence the ravages of time. I grew up in a cocoon that was never the premise of metamorphosis, but the demise into self deprecation and forgetfulness. I wanted to be as meaningless as dust in the majestic universe, insignificant by essence.

I rarely looked at a mirror, and if I did, I never really saw but a vague reflection of what I looked like; I was in denial, my very existence was death. My sole wish was to disappear.

I hated to be alone with my body; it felt more degrading that being laughed at. A collection of bones covered by a layer of shapeless skin, I was the human version of the ugly duckling. The very thought of my own inner physiology was revolting. I wanted to become dust, because dust is indefinable, almost shapeless.

Back in the days, my mother always asked me about “the girls” and I skilfully answered: great. That was, back in the days, before she caught me kissing my boyfriend (he too belongs to those days) in the room. From that instant on, life went down a steep hill.

Mother was outraged, she thought I contracted some incurable disease, she took me, by force, to a psychologist and said: “Please help him, he’s very sick.”

It was in those days that I stopped looking in the mirror, because even when I was alone, the eyes were there, looking back at me from beyond my reflection, a steady condemnation of a state I never asked for. I am a victim of my own self. I was born different, according to the standards some “visionary” (who’s not very visionary after all) declared eons ago, leaving us a prey to the vicissitudes of a world that changes with every second while we sink into the past.

As I said, it was back in the days.

I often went for long walks in Ashrafieh, the only moments the ominous eyes left because it was late at night and the streets were grim, with stories from behind thin walls echoing across empty pavements and the wind whistling songs from past in my ears.

It was once a glorious city, Beirut was once a glorious city. The mother of laws succumbed to lawlessness.

It’s a human capacity to transform personal tragedies into an enduring image of hell: I was gay, and I was not wanted. It was clear, the few people who kept close took their distance at the end. So I became the centrepiece of every conversation in my home village. I was the mistake, they called me: the mistake.

Echoes of hatred reached me in my sleep. And the eyes never leave.


I changed jobs like a man changes socks, and I changed houses even more. I went from one exile to the other, having ephemeral love affairs (the only humanity left in me), and praying for a better tomorrow (this too was human, I guess). Looking at where I am now, I never prayed enough because “better” didn’t appear, and tomorrow has always been unreachable.

Today, the streets were grim, which is not unusual as far as I am concerned; grey has become the palette with which I’ve decorated my memories, and so, Beirut – the history – receded to a black and white rendition of something I only perceived in silence. I took deep gulps of air into my lungs hoping to feel what the earth has to communicate to me. It was a long time since I felt so peaceful. Times are changing. Maybe tomorrow will be better. It was then, under a clear June sky that I took the decision.

Tonight, I die.

I hurried back to my apartment, euphoric. I just wanted to end it all, I wanted to go. I rushed up the stairs (no elevator), I tripped, got up and rushed up again to that fateful, inevitable moment. Salvation.

I opened the door with a trembling hand; I got inside and searched for a sharp object. The blood was pumping through my entity, awakening the freedom. The freedom within.

I took the knife and went out on the balcony. I bid my city goodbye. Tomorrow will be a better day. Waiting finally paid.

It was sweet like eternity, if eternity really tastes sweet. And it was warm, almost fluffy. That night I rained unto the living. For once, it was my choice.

Tomorrow will be a better day. And I will be reborn a better man.

And the eyes are closed, eternally.


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