My Paintbrush Forgot How to Paint


My fingertips stroke the letters on the keyboard as my mind wanders into a million burning suns that once provided light: what have we come to?

Politics was never a thing of interest for many reasons, chief amongst them is that reality never appealed to me. I’d rather paint pictures and recreate memories with the paintbrush that has my name sealed on it with gold: it’s the paintbrush of my imagination.

This paintbrush was summoned every time an inconvenience occurred. It was an escape, until came the time when my heart was poisoned by lethal thoughts instilled in my mind. The rest of my years would be spent in an attempt to find out who might have been the instiller, all to no avail.

An escape from the escape was much needed—but that wasn’t enough, running away can’t be the only option. See, now my paintbrush only knew of black casts and grey overshadows in the distance, ones that haunt you in your sleep; but I never slept— up there, it was always up.

Instead of painting little breathers that smelt of my favourite perfume, darkness took over my imagination like would a droplet of ink that hit a body of water: slowly, but surely, there was no going back for the poor water.

The happy thoughts that once filled my headspace were ones full of hope that someday something different might and will happen; that my destiny and fate wasn’t a boring one made heavy with normality; that I’d travel the world and meet the one who will be my world, and most importantly, create a world—a world of my own, where I write, read, exercise, have tea in the shivering dust of cold, cook spinning my whisk into a kitchen covered with flour and rainbow sprinkles, go to my office and conquer the world— my world, any world.

Instead, thoughts of death took over—“Go on and see what happens?! I tried that last year and look! Nothing ever happens!” Followed by another year, and another, and another…

Truthfully, nothing ever happened. When something did, life was quick to strip it off my hands. They were like doors, my opportunities, ones that were promised to be mine but are dearly sorry for they have no keys.

My expectations of myself ruined me. See, I never believed that certain things might truly be out of my hands. I had a deep belief that whatever happened, I contributed to however lightly that contribution might have been.

If I can’t find a job, perhaps it’s because I have to get another degree. If no one wants to grant me the opportunity to build up my CV, maybe the blame’s on me for graduating at such a young age. If my years are wasted, half stuck between a withered past and a future withering itself in my mind before it even happens, maybe I simply don’t know how to live happily and enjoy life. It’s because I’m fat, that I haven’t found the one or perhaps it’s because I’m not your typical average Lebanese girl who thinks she’s a second-class citizen of some sort just because she’s a female.

No matter what it was, it always had to fall on my shoulders. Until came a time where my shoulders couldn’t carry the heft of my guilt, blame, and shame anymore. That was when I completely deteriorated and all the bridges I spent years carefully carving with that same paintbrush, broke down. They left behind debris of what I once was, and who I wanted to be.

Aristotle says one should focus on building the new and not destroying or restoring the old. But tell me, Aristotle, how can I not destroy the old when the old has destroyed me? How can I focus on the new when there’s none? What new should I focus on, the unbearable darkness that has permanently intoxicated my very being? Or perhaps I should focus on the new Lebanon, where the attempt to destroy the destruction destroyed it even further.

Acceptance, then realisation, then anger—a lot of it— then complete surrender. That has been the inescapable cycle I’m living in. How can I not blame myself? I’m not a tree, I can move anywhere I want to in the world!

From my limited perception based on my humble experience, I came to conclude the following: years spent outside your country don’t count. For some strange reason, they don’t feel spent at all—more so the case when you’re on your own.

I feel that I haven’t spent enough time with my country. I haven’t understood it fully or figured out how it works— if it works at all, that is. But part of me desperately wants to try, hoping I’m to blame for knowing less, not having enough connections, not this, not that…

I want to see Lebanon win, but what’s painful is this: lost years of youth have proven the opposite to be false.

Age is a number, being young doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to waste years of my life hoping that someday, everything will be different. If everything will be different, and it will be, I’m responsible for making that happen.

That’s when my paintbrush of imagination was turned into a pen of reality expressing thoughts and feelings, speaking them into existence, hoping that their realness suggests they’ll leave me too, one day.


By, Zeinab Hamdar, Journalist, Editor & Writer

Embrace the Empowerment