Stories from Afar & Up Close

Identity-crisis, live at ABC

It’s not easy for kids in Lebanon these days – so many languages, so many nationalities per person! Yesterday morning, as we were having a late breakfast in ABC-mall in Ashrafiyeh, we were joined at the big table by a family of four; mother, father and two sons of around 4 years old. They seemed to be Lebanese, mostly speaking French, while the mother tried a sentence or two in Arabic with the kids. One of the boys kept staring at me until he decided he needed some answers and turned to his parents.

‘Mom, dad, which country are we from?’ ‘We live in France, and we are from Lebanon.’ ‘Oh.’ He turned back to me. ‘And you, where are you from?’ ‘I am from The Netherlands,’ I answered. ‘To the North of France,’ clarified his dad.

The boy, still wondering about the complexities of different countries of origin and nationalities, brought the discussion on their side of the table to their friend Gael, whose mother was said to be French. She also, it was mentioned, has blue eyes, and eventually one of the sons asked:

‘So when we go back to France, will we have blue eyes as well?’ As if the whole confusion of correlation between language, residence and descent wasn’t enough yet...