Reef Aman Eddine

It's the Fourth of August, again, and for once in a year, it’s not just in my head. I have to tell myself: No. It's not the same Fourth of August that's been replaying in my mind. It's a new one.

Today, I have to re-teach myself the fact that years are cyclic, and dates are different. I have to sit my thoughts down and tell them: January 1, 2020 is different from January 1, 2021. September 28, 2002 is different from September 28, 2020. Just like so, August 4, 2020 is different from August 4, 2021. I mutter this over and over, but I can't help but hold my breath as the clock strikes 6:05 p.m. Afterall, one is the new year, one is my birthday, and one is...a nightmare. And who is to ensure it won't happen again?

For the past year, the Fourth of August had ceased to be a date on the calendar; it had become an event, a headline in bold, capitalized letters, underlined, italicised, blood-red in color. A title to the book of "Down with corruption, down with negligence." The Fourth of August is a scream in the throats of thousands of people, dead, hospitalized, homeless, traumatized, all left wondering, “Where did I go wrong? What did I do to deserve this? What crime, what insolence, what terror did I commit to suffer so much?”

Today, the calendar says it’s the Fourth of August, which had me momentarily confused; since when do calendars scream?

For a year, we haven’t stopped screaming. Today the calendar adds its voice to the masses. The clock does too, as it strikes 6:05 p.m.

Last year, today, we were forced to inhale the poisonous gases emitted, mixed with the dust and debris from our homes and our city, but most of all, we inhaled sparks of grief, sorrow, trauma, and rage. I have come to learn that such sparks never really go away. The embers remain in our lungs and flow in our bloodstreams. Sometimes their heat starts a fire that burns through our skulls, but mostly, the fire is set to burn those responsible. They have lit the match, and it must ricochet.