Lebanese Civil War Stories – Part 3

Continued from Part 2.

Saint George’s Hospital was packed. Simon’s mom looked at the multitude of strangers in front of her. They were all in agony. The mothers that had lost sons, the wives that had lost husbands…

She was asked to come down to the hospital. She didn’t know why but she felt it was odd that her sons hadn’t come back home yet. But for all she knew, they were hiding out at some relative’s house.

On her way there, she had heard how her brother-in-law’s son, my uncle John, was hit and taken to the Geitawi hospital. She knew his condition wasn’t severe. But why was she in Saint George’s hospital?

She looked around. Strangers. There wasn’t any face she recognized. And somehow, she couldn’t even connect to their pain. So she sat there, in the waiting room, waiting for God knows what.

But then she noticed the whispers. Why were the people there looking at her through sad eyes, breathing out worried words she couldn’t comprehend with their tired mouths.

And suddenly she felt there was something she didn’t know. And she started to get worried. Her sons hadn’t gotten home. Her oldest son, George, had gone to get his sister from school. Her son Simon had supposedly also gone to do the same thing.

Why weren’t they back yet? They should have been back when she left the house. Something must have happened to them…

And like every concerned mother, her train of thought took her from being in a relatively comfortable state to a mental wreck.

One of the doctors ran in front of her. She stood up and shouted “take me to your morgue”.

The doctor stopped in his tracks. He turned around and looked at her. “My sons are in your morgue. I need to see my sons”.

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Lebanese Civil War Stories – Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

If Geitawi was being bombed on that April 2nd afternoon, the deeper parts of Achrafieh were being hammered. My dad’s cousin was sheltered in their friends’ house on Ebrine Street, named after my hometown, adjacent to Mar Metr Street, made famous by the Orthodox church and its fancy cemetery.

The house Simon, my dad’s cousin, was seeking refuge in was few hundred meters away from the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family convent (Sainte Famille) present on that street as well. That convent was also the school his little sister Mary attended. He was supposed to take her back home but the bombing had gotten too intense.

Simon looked around at the terrified faces around him. There were two younger girls: Rosalie and Marie-Madeleine, sitting next to their mother, who was hugging them tenderly, not allowing them to see the frightened tears frozen on her face. Her husband and his brother were sitting next to them as well.

As the rockets that were falling increased in intensity and frequency, the smell of burning cement, wood and flesh started to fill their nostrils. The mother looked at Simon. He was terrified. He was worried something had happened to his sister’s school. The mother told him he needed to take his mind off his sister for the time being. There was an underground shelter two buildings away. They had to make a run for it.

The woman felt the bombing subside a little. And soon enough, the sounds of explosions had ceased – at least for a few minutes. But it was enough for them to make a run for it.

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