The other day I read an article online that scared the hell out of me. It relayed a threat by ISIS that concerned the region where my family and friends live in Lebanon. When I sent the link to my cousin and asked if there was any truth in it he replied in the negative and advised me not to believe everything I hear or read.
Sounds good right? How can I, when I have lived in Lebanon during the civil war? During those days, most of the time whatever people talked about happened. The capital Beirut was divided into two parts East and West. Each side had its militia fighting the other side.
We were living in the West, close to where my late husband worked at the time, since on most days the roads connecting the two sides would be closed due to heavy fighting or bombing by militias. On days when my neighbors or my aunt who lived in the East would call and say to get my shelter bag ready because there would be bombing that night we would just prepare ourselves for a night of hellish nightmare. But then we knew where the bombs came from.
Thirty or so years have passed and I personally think that the situation is worse now. The entire region is under fire. What’s worse is that the enemy (no more your fellow civilian) is stronger and more vicious than ever.
I ask myself why? Of course there is no answer and if there is one I don’t think I would understand it anyway. Politics changes in that part of the world so rapidly that within days you could find yourself on the wrong side of the road.
How do you stay safe then? What do you do? Do you depend on your luck? Perhaps there is no such thing as luck. Or perhaps you run out of it the moment you fall into the hands of those gunmen.
The Lost I
A few seconds and the gunman was leaning through the car window, his kalashnikov almost touching Samer’s face, his black hound pounding and barking ferociously.
“Your identification,” he yelled. He had long black hair tied up in a ponytail. His face was not shaven. He was wearing baggy trousers in khaki and a khaki shirt. In his made- up uniform, he barely looked sixteen.
Samer took his passport from the inside pocket of his jacket and calmly handed it to the teenage gunman. The teenager held it open in his hand for a brief moment, looked at the picture and threw it back inside the car through the open window. Then trembling with rage he opened the car door and shouted.
Samer, his manner still calm, stepped out. The dog jumped up but the teenage gunman grabbed the leather strap on the animal’s neck and forced it on the ground. Then, with the wooden part of his kalashnikov, he gave Samer a blow on his head and ordered him to put his hands up and walk ahead of him.
Samer, hands on his head, walked away in front of the teenage-gunman. Nayla watched the teenage-gunman kick Samer on his back and lead him up a narrow passageway between what seemed to be two deserted houses with green wooden windows and a half fallen roof.
Samer never looked back.