A Better Tomorrow
As a Lebanese citizen, I am no stranger to turmoil and shocks, but the explosion at the port of Beirut left us all in extreme awe, to say the least. Having experienced it up close, it is with a heavy heart and bloodshot eyes that I describe the events of this nightmare, and gaze upon the beloved city I once called home.
Early before the explosion, my uncle who works in the marina near the port informed us about a growing fire in the warehouse. I was outside on our recently refurbished glass-paned balcony in Salim Salam – Beirut with my mother when we felt the shock and were violently hurled by the wind into the living room. The massive white-pinkish cloud and the deafening sound rumbled the ground beneath our feet, quickly followed by the sounds of wailing mothers and children filling the building. At first, I could not feel my knees and was struck by a headache from the violent hurl and ringing in my ears. I pushed my way through and searched for my siblings and checked on my mother who was slightly injured. After making sure no one in the house was severely injured, I turned off everything that runs on electricity and recollected my thoughts after witnessing what was left from the streets I grew up in. My heart fell when I remembered my father who left on his motorbike 10 minutes earlier to check on my grandmother. The phones were down, and a wave of panic had us all in tears and down on our knees, until my father showed up with a blank expression on his pale face. Since there was no electricity (which is not surprising) in the neighboring homes, our neighbors rushed to our house to see the news. I choked back tears to console my weeping sister and neighbors and brought them water and biscuits so their levels of sugar in blood don't drop. Looking out from the balcony, I realized how lucky we were aside from the physical and mental damage we were put through. Despite the boiling anger I concealed toward whoever was responsible for this disaster, I put my emotions aside and focused on collecting the shattered panes and checking the doors that broke from the explosions pressure. For a teenager or child, the worst thing you can witness is your parents having to choke back tears, or seeing them lose hope in the country they have raised us to love and preserve. Not to mention the heartbreaking pictures of our beloved school after the explosion, which drained us from whatever hope we had left.
Now, everytime I watch the news or see the ruins, I see myself in this city that has gone through so much, and wonder why I was condemned to see all this agony. I now see myself alongside all the innocent children and mothers who thought that even with the crumbling economic situation, we were safe. And yet, fate had other plans.
I still see myself in every promising dream for a bright future, every call for help, every arm reaching out, everything that has not been marred by evil, every arm reaching out. But how long and how much more can we take before our innocent and oppressed youth fades into the dark wars we are being dragged into by lurking evil and selfish minds.
Lebanon, I hope to find what my grandparents saw in you once, I hope to find what poets like Nizar Kabbani and Saeed Akl gazed upon once upon a time, I hope to see myself not in your bloody streets or shattered buildings, but in a better tomorrow we all deserve.
Leen Bou Alia, 16 years old, AGC Scholar.