In my book The Lost I, in the last chapter, Nayla, the key character, is sad to flee her country. “She had left her friends there in the West; her closest friend, with whom she had shared the worst moments of her life. She had left without even saying goodbye to Hayat or Maha, without kissing the little boy, without even seeing her friend’s baby girl, without even knowing whether she would live or die. They had to hurry.”
Hayat’s character is based on a friend, who lived in the same building with me. During a week of heavy bombing in 1984 we used to go down to the basement to hide when the shelling started between East and West Beirut at the time. One night Hayat and her husband didn’t show up and the next day we learned she was in the hospital and had a baby girl. To add drama to the book, Nayla leaves without seeing the baby. Little did I know that, after almost two decades I would be living the scene I created for my character, when I had to flee Lebanon in July 2006 without seeing my brother’s newborn girl, without saying goodbye to my best friend, when I had to flee with my two teenagers leaving everyone behind.
Now as I watch the disturbances in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East I am sad. It reminds me of a different place at a different time. It breaks my heart to see innocent people suffer. As I said in my interview with CTV’s Debra Arbec, in My Montreal, it’s so sad to see people go through the same thing over and over again. My thoughts and prayers are with all the innocent civilians.