Shireen Maalouf, the pianist playing for prisoners

Reem Al-Kamali

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Shireen Maalouf is one of the most precious people I met while studying in Lebanon. She resembles sweet rain that flows in a forgotten and remote land.

She simply feels the pain of others and hopes to save them at all times. Her financial capabilities were not much but she had a bigger heart than just play piano for the rich and the intellectuals in fancy theatres.

Shireen, the passionate and skilled pianist, thus escaped from all those who feel no pain and decided to transport her piano in a rented car to head to a Lebanese prison after attaining permission to play for inmates, particularly those on the death row.

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She played music for hours with her eyes closed. Calmness and silence reigned among inmates and guards alike.

Shireen’s serene music vanished the idea of committing wrong acts as her music flowed like a river that washes away what happened to them. She made them sense that a new dawn lies ahead even when it doesn’t.

No one can prevent us from helping others to fix their flaws and make them forget – even if just for a little time

Reem Al-Kamali

Measuring humanity

Humanity cannot be measured. Who prevents us from helping a man who committed a wrong act become a good human again? No one can prevent us from helping others to fix their flaws and make them forget – even if just for a little time – the madness that’s now forever associated with them.

Shireen, with her absolute sense of humanity, tries to wash their pain away or to at least sum up their tears.

Shireen who is a great woman and a great human being refused to marry any of the men who proposed to her and who want to immigrate as she insisted to stay in a country that needs her. She always said: “Why would I immigrate from my country and for what’s sake?”

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Shireen continued to transport the piano to prison every now and then and whenever she heard of new verdicts against inmates who will not be released any time soon. The society takes caution from these men but she looks at them like they need us – us the free ones beyond the walls.

She dedicated herself to give to others. She was generous, skilled and patient as she reflected her emotions through her music. Transporting the piano was costly but she continued to transport it to play music. She blossomed like a flower as she headed towards the prison to humanize fenced places.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Reem Al-Kamali is an Emirati author and journalist based in the UAE who specializes in history and literature. Her twitter handle is @reemalkamali.

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