Human stories… books open to life

An activity organized by the Beirut municipal library to borrow experiences instead of books

Her clown name is Bubba. She sits on a sofa and around her, listening to her story, as part of an activity organized by the Beirut municipal library in the Bachoura area, with the aim of borrowing human experiences instead of books, and listening to the stories of people sharing an anguish that they decided to turn into joy. “Why are you a clown?” She laughs at the question and reverses it: “Why shouldn’t I be a clown?” The young woman replies her face, her face painted, and her tone adorned with the dreams of children.

Next to her sits “Abbas Al-Hassas”, a street clown. Her name is Reem Taha. She calls herself the name of a man, and mocking those who suffer from life. She explains, “I chose the name of a man to express the two parts that are repressed and forbidden to appear. A female has two sides, a man and a woman, so why can’t I be Abbas? It’s my grandfather’s name,” says the 27-year-old insistently, defeating frustration.

In every corner there is a tale waiting to be heard. We waited for a cancer victor to recount his experience, and this kind of victory is both inspiring and brave. He did not come, because he was in contact with someone infected with “Corona”. It was a meeting with Kitab who was bullied for his low school grades. He is 24 years old and prefers not to be named: “Experience is the most important and my goal is to push people towards confrontation.” A last “book”, whose papers are turned by a psychokinetic therapist, also chooses to hide her identity. She shares a touching experience about her crisis of existence and its difficult questions, and then her decision to retire from Mission Impossible: Answers.

An activity that Beirut Municipal Library wants to spread the culture of the “human library” and simulate the other as an open book that can be listened to without condemnation. The rules of the game: “borrow” a person (not a book) for twenty minutes. “Booba” and “Abbas the Sensitive” are dreaming as they tell their stories. The psychokinetic therapist laughs like a child at the suffering and decides that nothing will stop her; Like overcoming bullying, he asserts that the will is stronger than the circumstance.

We return to Booba, reclining on a red sofa. Since childhood, she sees colors as a refuge for happiness. Her room was like a miniature circus, without knowing what a circus was and what a clown was. She thought clowns were the ones who made kids laugh on their birthdays and entertained them at McDonald’s. Her first inspiration was a boy who awakened in her a sense that she was “Bubba” the clown. Introduce her to who she wants to be.

Specializing in nutrition, her passion is music and interacting with people when she paints her face and wears a clown costume to make them happy on the street. “This is my look that I like. Society forces us to study to work and earn money. It kills the child inside us and robs us of true laughter. The clown teaches me to cling to the innocence of children, so I feel the value of life.”

We ask her about the sadness behind the clown’s colorful face and his wide laugh, and she answers that like all humans, he has all kinds of feelings. She holds the clown’s “beak” and describes it as the smallest mask. When she puts it on her nostrils, she forgets about cruelty and turns into a cheerful person. She criticizes the wearing of masks to please society, and the increasing demand for them with age. Booba is an open book on re-understanding life from the point of view of a clown who insists on playing. Isn’t a person too old to play? She refuses to associate games with children: “The street clown’s strength is in its transparency, while people are submissive to the strictness of society. He brings out his feelings, so he rejoices and fills the place with positive energy.”

Prepare for a circus in the Bekaa that addresses children in an interactive way, awakening their creative imaginations. Bubba wants to preserve the living soul and save it from the hurting social system. You want playing not to die for a lifetime, so society robs man of his innocence: “This is what happened to me, so I decided to resemble myself.”

“Abbas the Sensitive” conceals discontent with a society that condemns the other and casts it into a framework. People think that she is “empty of mind” when she wears a clown’s dress and wanders in street shows. There, you feel the pure belonging to humanity, so you cling to the passion of interacting with others, whether you get paid, or work for nothing.

It hurts her that some people modify their view of her when she offers offers for money, and throws her into not being serious and wasting time when she offers free offers. “Dear society, this is me, adding color to your dull days. The street clown gives me joy, and I give it to others. Attention should be drawn to the importance of interaction, especially with strangers. This requires enormous energy and putting problems aside. The clown as a mother has bad days, but she spares her children negative influences. I learn to turn pain into creative energy, to put the dark sides in the light.” The lesson from Reem Taha’s book is that things can be different from what we think, and some of the lessons of the days may have been learned in a wrong way. There are always other possibilities. Vital and forthcoming, is psychomotor therapy. A young woman of twenty-four, with a mature woman inside, was magnified by questions. Since childhood, she has been a lot of them and in vain is resting from her pregnancy. We read her book: “I was swept away by the existential crisis and the question about man and his usefulness. My specialization, combining art and science, has enabled me to put an end to this torment. I was convinced that in order to heal others, I must first heal myself. I threw the weight off her and decided to focus on my goal, after realizing that the questions were destructive and I would not stay in the vortex forever.” In her book, the confrontation with the self raged, before declaring reconciliation with it: “I reached inner peace by declaring, and I decided to start again.”

Behind the young man who conquered bullying, a book about jazz music, and next to it another book entitled “Umm Kulthum in Abu Dhabi”. He mentions his teacher’s cruelty and bullying for his low school grades, and his exposure to moral destruction: “I was hurt at first, then I reconciled with myself. I fail in some subjects and succeed in others. Signs are not the end of the world. A man should try where he finds his happiness.”

He graduates from university and is preparing to enter the labor market. He does not hide his fear of what awaits him and is determined to stand up. He forgives his teacher, and says the bully might not even know what he’s doing. Are you worried about signs today? “Absolutely. I gained myself.”