I was born to a Lebanese/Greek father and a Lebanese mother. His name was Pavlos Rigas and hers is Hellen Fattal. I have no memories of my father. He died when I was 7 months old. It was during the prime of the Lebanese war with Syria and the sectarian conflicts that surmounted after. My parents lived in the Western Region of Beirut, and in an area that was famed as Rass Beirut. At the time, Rass Beirut was the central part of the country where all the activities took place. It was a center of attraction for recurrent locals, visitors, and tourists alike. I can only imagine the beauty of it and its pictures only reinforce those dreams.
I do know the Church where my parents wed was known as Mar Elias, which is still a center of attraction for many tourists and visitors up to this day.
My father was a sort of jack-of-all-trades. He was a hair stylist, an artist, a poet, and a survivor. His parents, Pantelis and Annette, did not really approve of his marriage to my mother, who was not Greek, and was not ‘up-to-standard’ per their strict requirements for a beloved daughter-in-law. Before knowing my mother, Pantelis accompanied Pavlos to Cyprus to seek a “better” future. Not sure exactly how many months they spent seeking “golden” opportunities, but I do know that their time spent there also involved negotiations for a pre-arranged marriage, which did not come to fruition.
Back in Lebanon, my father embarked on a career as a hair stylist. His customers were famous actors, dancers, and celebrities from around Lebanon. He worked at a famous hotel in the city center and became familiar to guests of various backgrounds and classes. He was a hard-working person and put all his efforts into his career seeking what everyone would seek today – a family and a dream of a life of full sustenance. That was all before the war.