During supper last night, my parents were telling me of their adventures with Human Resources Canada as my mother tries to regain her permanent resident status. All this talk of officious government wranglings reminded my dad of the amusing events that surrounded the documental confusion surrounding my birth.
You see, I was born in Abu Dhabi. At the time, my parents were residents of Beirut, Lebanon and were in Abu Dhabi exclusively for my birth (I was difficult even as a foetus). You see, my maternal grandparents were living in the UAE at the time and urged my parents to deliver me there as medical facilities were better and more readily available (oh, and the fact that Lebanon was embroiled in a bloody civil war).
After my birth, my diligent father presented himself to the Lebanese consulate in Abu Dhabi with my birth certificate in tow and requested that they provide me with citizenship papers and, eventually, a passport. Unable to process the documents on site, they had to forward the copies of the documents to the central government offices in Beirut for processing. With the war raging in Lebanon, they predicted a delay of several months.
Several months later and no news to report on the document front, we returned to Lebanon. Eager to have some form of identification for his son, my father decided to go to the central offices and get the paperwork done himself. (Upon my questioning, Dad was unable to remember how he managed to actually to get me into Lebanon with no proof of citizenship. Hilarious.)
After much elbowing at the citizenship office in Beirut, he was able to get the appropriate forms and went in search of a notary public to authenticate the documents. He went to his local notary and presented him with my birth certificate and asked him to notarise the forms. For reasons still unknown to my father, the notary pledged my place of birth as being Beirut. Not noticing, my father gleefully ran back to the government office and applied for my passport and citizenship papers. Weeks later, my passport arrived and my father was horrified to see that the place of birth stipulated was Beirut. Oh dear. Remedying this issue would have been a torturous ordeal so my father decided to let it slide. We fled the country on the back of a boat weeks later and never thought of it again.
Fast forward 15 years.
We are now living in Saudi Arabia and the war in Lebanon has ended. It is right around this time that the consulate in Abu Dhabi finally gets around to sending my birth documents to the central offices in Beirut. Upon reception, a red flag is immediately raised when they come across a Joe [name withheld] born in Abu Dhabi and a Joe [name withheld] supposedly born in Beirut – on the very same day! Suspecting that something fishy has happened, they launch an inquiry. Instead of actually conceding that this may have been a typographical error somewhere along the line or possibly admitting that their record-keeping may be a little behind the times (it only took 15 years for the proof of birth to get to them!), they assume that this was a deliberate act to deceive the government. An alert is put out for any and all [name withheld]s in Beirut to be contacted and questioned.
One fine day shortly thereafter, my great uncle Jean is startled, while at home, by Lebanese army officers. He is taken into their care and escorted to an army prison where he is repeatedly questioned about my existence. Fortunately, Jean was a lawyer and was able to successfully argue that this was nothing more than a clerical error and there really is only one Joe [name withheld]. Satisfied with his explanation, they released him and closed the matter.
Needless to say, this story was quite the jaw-dropper for me. It’s not every day that you hear a story that resulted in your great uncle being imprisoned by virtue of you being born.
It is now of public record that I, Joe [name withheld], was not born in Beirut but in Abu Dhabi and any and all Lebanese documents to the contrary can be accepted.