Beirut, The One-Winged Phoenix

Sylvie Tatoian

Beirut. A city of adventures and wonders. A city so dear to my heart. A city where I’ve met my first love, where I’ve kissed for the first time. The safe haven that blind-sighted me every time I walked on its pavements, with its amazing architecture, and its multicultural and diverse community. The heart of Lebanon that beat with love, joy, tranquility, and freedom.

I remember walking down the main street of Hamra, how the smell of the ‘Shawarma’ rushed through my nostrils without consent and watered my mouth. I remember drinking my first coffee in the morning at Em Nazih’s, accompanied by the harmonious chirping of the birds.

4th of August, 2020, 6:08 p.m. The dreaded ringing in my ear still confuses my hearing today as if it happened yesterday. The echoes of annihilation of many souls and the aches of many hearts were heard overseas. In a matter of just seconds, everything vanished. Despair and misery were worn by everyone as if some kind of trendy clothing. No one was the same anymore. Not you, not me, not anyone.

Beirut became a city of fear and anxiety. I no longer anticipate being there. The explosion not only left the city full of debris and ashes, but it left us, the Lebanese youth, broken and hopeless, stealing my and many others’, sense of safety and happiness. Moreover, it wasn’t the nightmares and suffering I relived every night that numbed my feelings, but the irreversible damage that impacted my mental health and perspectives on life. I no longer adore fireworks, because they explode in my heart. I no longer dream of having a large window to watch the view because in fact being near to anything glass has become a new phobia for me.

However, despite the atrocities that we have witnessed, Beirut still calls out our names although little shyer than before. Nevertheless, it is our one-winged Phoenix trying to fly, and we’re the only ones who can make that happen.