Out of all the Lebanese villages that sent its sons and daughters to America on the Titanic, Kfarmishki has the highest death toll at 13, out of the 14 people that wanted to reach Ontario, Canada where most of the town’s expats reside.
Out of the 13 people that kfarmishki lost, only one body was recovered. Everyone else was lost, never to be seen again or given a proper burial. The abyss of the Atlantic became their final resting place.
Of those whose bodies were never found, there’s Assaf el Saykali who left his newly pregnant wife in order to find a way around the poverty in his hometown. Another is Mansour el Hajj, who left his 3 year old daughter and wife, only to be taken in by the sea.
The only body that was recovered through the MacKay-Bennett belonged to Mansour Nawfal, a man in his late twenties who had left his hometown searching for a better life all by himself. Almost none of the people of Kfarmishki know about him. The MacKay-Bennett’s crew wrote his name as Mansour Sovel on the medical form they filled upon collecting him on April 24th, 1912.
The only survivor from Kfarmishki was a woman named Zad Assaf, who is more commonly known as Mariana Assaf. The name discrepancy arose when she was rescued and asked for her name. Being illiterate, she couldn’t inform the personnel of her proper name so on the lists of survivors, she became known as Mariana.
Zad was born in 1867 and got married in her hometown before leaving it and her two sons to follow her husband to Ontario. In 1912, she returned to Lebanon to see her sons and got on the Titanic, via Cherbourg in France, to go back to her husband. Her sons would soon follow her. It was a good thing they weren’t on the Titanic with her.
While being interviewed on April 24th, 1912, a traumatized Zad told the story of what happened on the day Titanic sank. She said when the ship first hit the iceberg, none of the passengers she was with, most of whom were Lebanese, got afraid. They had called it a night and went to bed. The lack of fear was due to them not knowing the gravity of the situation. It had been kept under wraps for as long as the crew could do so. Some of the Lebanese, however, wanted to go on deck to see what was happening. They were told nothing was wrong and no one felt any danger. So they stayed in their rooms.
As time went by and the ship didn’t move, their minds started racing and thinking about what the crew could be hiding from them. Some had started to think about the possibility that the ship might be sinking. Suddenly, one of the passengers shouted that the ship is sinking fast. That was then the chaos began and people started running frantically to the deck of the ship, not caring how they got there as long as they did.
Zad said her mind went numb. The only thing she was able to think about back then was to get to the deck where first class passengers had already been. She got to there with a man from her hometown named Elias Tannous Nasrallah, a 22 year old who had left his wife in Kfarmishki. He was going to Ontario to provide for her. As he neared the rescue boats, Elias tried to reason with an officer there to let him on. The officer wouldn’t let him. The chaos that ensued and Elias still pleading for his life got the officer to hold his gun at Elias and shoot him in the chest, killing him instantly, saying: women and children go first.
Shocked by what happened to Elias, Zad froze in her spot. She couldn’t move. The shock of the ship sinking was just made worse by seeing the man from her hometown murdered right in front of her. Without her being aware of it, a navy officer pushed her into a boat full of women and a few men. The boat was then lowered to the water and the men started rowing away as the ocean engulfed Titanic.
Some of the survivors had said the music band kept playing until the very last moments. Zad wasn’t aware of that. She was still in shock. She was among the last people to be lowered off the ship, an hour and thirty minutes after impact. Stranded at sea, they stayed there for hours, freezing in the cold. Six hours after leaving Titanic, the ship Carpathia came to their rescue. The only thing she was able to remember was them offering her warm clothes.
Once she got to New York, she was admitted to the hospital for observation. Once discharged, people from the area helped her get to Ontario where she met her husband. Her sons soon followed her. One of them later on went to Sao Paolo where he lived to be over 105 years old.
Elias Nasrallah’s wife got remarried in Kfarmishki after getting the news that her husband has passed away.
Stay tuned for part 4 tomorrow.