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Friday, February 13, 2004

Destiny's Choice

Paris, Thursday, 31 August, 1995

Thin, tall, a pure beauty as if emanating from the soul. Moves like a silk scarf and so does her voice.

She opened some albums. The daughter-in-law, in her twenties, came in with the baby, a ten months old guy full of force. They live in Beirut and are visiting for the summer.

I asked, How is life now in Beirut? And she answered in a gentle voice, "Not good. Israel is in the south of Lebanon, invaded it, we are under occupation, you know... It's a real war." She didn't say, y o u occupied. "You", in English, is both singular and plural. All these years I've been washing my hands -I am not "they", I am Corinna, don't put me into any drawers.

But it is a fact that I didn't go to the fence to stop the fighters on both sides with my own two hands.

The baby Alexander gargled sweetly in his international language, with a trusting smile as he stretched out his hands and Venus said, glowing, "Write about him, how wonderful he is! Will you write about him?"

In two weeks he will return to Beirut and he doesn't know and his parents don't know what is waiting for them there.

Venus lives on the ground floor of a building surrounded by a large garden, next to a park. Through the panoramic windows of the enormous living room, snapdragons and roses were blossoming, dozens of flower varieties that Venus, my sister in the love of gardening, had sown and planted and nurtures.

Venus Khoury-Ghata:

I hate my name. When I was born, my mother gave me a very beautiful name. Dianne. Like Diana, the goddess from Greek mythology.

A week later, one of the neighbors, a doctor, bought a dog. And he called his dog, "Dianne".

My mother was very angry and she picked up the dictionary to look for an e v e n m o r e important goddess than Diana. She found Venus - the goddess of love and beauty.

I liked the name when I lived in Lebanon and was young and beautiful. But for some years now I hate my name. I see myself in old age, and with this name.

Today I presented a new book to my editor at Jean Claude Latess. I asked them to print it under the name, V. Khoury-Ghata.

They told me, "You've published twenty-two books under the name Venus Khoury-Ghata, and now you want us to take out Venus and put just the letter V?"

In my youth in Lebanon I was beautiful. Foolish people gave me the title of "Miss Beirut 1959."

Then the name Venus fitted me.

Now I'm not a Miss. I'm a writer, and I lead a very austere life, and the name doesn't fit.

(excerpt from ONCE SHE WAS A CHILD)

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