House of stone, house of gods,
Blessed are thee among mountain tops,
Thus you sit and thus you slumber,
In the bright sunlight and deep valleys under,
I see thee jolly, I see thee green,
With tiles so red and homes pristine,
Raised and reared under your roofs,
With stories told of a thousand hooves,
That cracked a whip and hid in fear,
History so bold, I hold so dear,
Your fog, your mist might fill the air,
There I’ll remain in thou embrace so fair.
It’s my muse; a place I have seen morph along the years. I was just a child when we used to sit on the roof, in plain sunlight, shivering in the cold water of our little inflatable pool, Auntie Marie would bring us rose water glasses jingling with ice cubes. She used to make me smile as I hear her voice calling out to us from behind the water reservoirs.
Bikfaya, a village that sits at 900 meters above sea level, boasts of history both ancient and recent. Home to the worship of the Phoenician god Kifa, the town had embraced its residents since around 679 with Christians dwelling there prior to their migration to Ehden – another historic area worth covering. The 7th century witnessed the arrival of Emir Semaan, who founded the town in its current form, hence transforming it into the headquarters of Maronite Emirs and Bishops.
I shall not talk of history more than what I have done so far and I surely will not instigate yawning as I blabber about the olden times.
As you approach the entrance to the main street, the bronze statue of a prominent political figure salutes you, backed by an arcade and surrounded with shrubs, roses and flowers. The main street, AKA the new high way, is lined with local shops, established and run by residents, starting with small restaurants, a gym, snacks, boutiques, a Discotheque, a couple sports shops, pastry shops, pharmacies, stationary & bookstores and last but not least, my late grandfather’s restaurant: Saab Restaurant 1972 – one of the first American restaurants in the area at the time.
I was almost seven years old when I started riding my bicycle down the streets of my then-quiet town. The shops there had not been as modern as today’s and we had the sidewalk all to ourselves. People would tell us off as we sped along, but we did not mind them. These were good times; a period when all was still quiet and clean.
The sidewalk had not changed much. Parts of it had been renovated a few years ago, while my favorite section – that involves big blue and white tiles – was kept. It kind of reminds me of my own journey so far; wide roads and a tiny body trying every so hard to get to the finish line.
“I so want you to be there on Christmas!” I tell my friends, and that’s what I want for you, the Christmas fair with its small wooden shops offering food, toys and decorations are not to be missed at the square, evergreens decorated with lights and lanterns twinkle gleefully, old Fairouz festive songs play here and there – trust me, these remain better than any Christmas songs I have ever heard so far – and last but not least, the delicious food. I still keep a Nutcracker wooden figurine that my best friend Christelle had given me, it was at that Christmas fair that she surprised me with that gift, I was so happy that I got a bit emotional as it reminded me of my childhood and an old animated film that used to bring tears to my eyes.
I can hardly keep myself from smiling as I recall how happy and sure enough I seek to send you a spark of joy through these simple words whomever you are. Bikfaya is my home and should you want to discover more, you’ll have to visit this buzzing town and get a taste of the local culture that the residents have created; it will be truly a pleasant experience and sure enough you’ll get addicted to the man’ouche (a Lebanese thyme wrap), Lebanese sweets and my most importantly grandfather’s Burger.