(The names have been changed, for privacy.)
This is a story about two young hearts, who yearned for each other, for many years..
They were 18 when they met. Very adolescent, carefree, irresponsible, and rebellious. His name is Hashem, and she is Lara. He is Muslim Sunni, and she is Druz. She is a spoiled happy spirit, the youngest of a Lebanese warlord. He has a temper, reasonable, brilliant, with a big heart.
He skipped his classes to be with her. He failed and lied. He spent his college money. But she captured his heart. They spent their days and nights together. They laughed and played. They fought and yelled. But they knew each other and accepted.
She graduated, and he was struggling. His family found out his big secret. Her, and that in three years, he had only passed six classes. If he was ever going to stay in school, he had to break up with her. She is Druz, she is forbidden, and she distracted him.
Her father talks to him: “You and Lara have been together for a long time, but you know this will not last right? It is the family, and by family, I mean the whole big family.”
His mother talks to him: “Lara is Druz, my daughter in law will never be Druz. She will be a God fearing Sunni. And do you really want to mess with these people? Do you want your penis hanging on a pine tree?”. She is referring to a recent incident, of a Druz woman who ran away to marry a Sunni man. Her family tracked them down, and cut his private organ and hung it on a tree in the town square.
They break up. She flies to Paris, looking for a new life. She starts her own business, and few months later, gets engaged, to a Druz man. He focuses on school, and becomes an engineer. He closes his heart, but dreams about her. He talks about her. Not sadly though. There is this whole joy that overwhelms him when he mentions her. He says, I know her, he doesn’t say I knew her. I love her, not I loved her. He also says it’s over.
A year passes by, and Lara breaks her engagement. Then six months pass again. Hashem is now working, and loving his work. He knows he is brilliant, and he’s excelling. Lara… he doesn’t know anything about her. Sometimes though, he stares into the nothing in front of him, and smiles.
Then one day, Lara boards a flight to Lebanon. She arrives, and drives to Hashem’s Sunni town. “I am here”, she says.
Hashem hurries down the stairs. She is here. They drive to Beirut, to the new Zaytouna bay. They are not 18 anymore. She is a woman, and he is a man. But their hearts are still 18. She says, “I spoke to my father, I have been talking to him for a long time. I love you, and he accepts us now. We can get married!”
Hashem is looking at a woman he had not seen for a long time. He wanted her. He was staring at his beautiful love, who flew from Paris to tell him what he had always wished to hear, but accepted not to ever hear. He says, “Lara, no. It is over, you have to move on.”
He breaks her heart at a Zaytouna bay café. But no, she is 18 now, and she loves him, and she fought her father for years, to have him. She stands up and slaps him, with all her might she yells at him, “you are lying. You love me and I know you love me.” She does not see anyone around them. Zaytouna bay became quiet, and everyone was watching them. But she is 18, she only sees him, and she slaps him.
His heart is pounding, because he also does not see anyone around them, and he is also 18 now. He wants her, but he is Sunni, and she is Druz. He is overwhelmed, but he is drunk, with her.
They leave. The news that Lara is around spread, and that of the slap. His friends post on his Facebook page, one post after the other. “Ah, my cheek is hurting!”. “Oh boy that must have felt good.” Lara posts after them, “do you want one too?”.
Hashem drives to Lara’s Druz hometown. He has something to say to her warlord father, “I love Lara, I always have, and I always will. I rejected her yesterday, because I love her. I want to make a good life before I marry her, because then I can stand up for her, I can face my family for her, and I can give her a good life. But I need three years for that, and I cannot ask her to wait for me for three years. I wish she would, but I cannot ask her that. I want Lara, but I cannot have her now.”
Lara’s father tells him that he respects him for that, “whether you marry Lara now, or you marry her 3 years later, or you never marry her, I want you to know that you are always welcome in this house, and you are the one who knows Lara better than anybody, better than me, and you are the one who always had her heart.”
Hashem and Lara are 24 now, not together. They still love each other. She is in Paris, and he is in Beirut.