My Identity

Lara Saab
My identity

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. Well when it comes to your identity it indubitably can. I’ve lived in a western country, as well as a purely Arab country. And for most of my life a question remained unanswered. “Am I western or Arab?”
In my early years, I went to school in Montreal and learned the traditions and the customs of the west. We lived in a very free environment that accepted and advocated diversity. People smiled to me on the sidewalk and everything seemed authorized. I was taught French and English, while my parents spoke Arabic with me at home. I didn’t really fit in, I knew this wasn’t where I belong. Throughout the years they often told me stories about this country that I was ostensibly from…Lebanon.
They taught me to love Lebanon, or at least their peaceful and loving of Lebanon. They told me tales of how they fell in love, and their adventures through the endless field of green stretching from mountains to coastline. They gave me an impression of MY country that resembles G.Kalil’s view in “you have your Lebanon and I have my Lebanon.” I imagined shepherds leading their “flocks” over the hills, farmers turning their “fallow” meadow into beautiful gardens and I dreamt of meeting these brave souls who “migrated with nothing but courage in their heart and strength in their arms” and ended up living a great life.
When we moved to Saudi Arabia, I was a bit older. Yet the change of setting surprised me. The people there seemed much more suppressed, as if it was wrong to open up. My style of life changed, and I got used to the “Arab” habits and ethnicity of the kingdom. My Arabic became more fluent and I adjusted well. Even the abaya and the veil didn’t bother me anymore after a couple of years. I didn’t really fit in, and I knew this wasn’t where I belong.
My parents persevered with the stories about MY country but as I got older the stories seemed to...