Remembering Beirut

Yasmina El Zein

I still remember the day she broke up with me. I still taunt it. I still curse it. I also rue it every day of my life. Simply because she made me feel whole. Walking past her was like walking past a bundle of beauty, joy, and sorrow. Her scent made adrenaline flow down my veins so effortlessly. Simply because every part of me loved her. And it’s true, you’ll never know the value of something until you lose it. Because I never knew how much love I had for her up until she broke up with me in the middle of the summer. And she decided to never stay the same after it.

She left and took half of me with her: my hope, my heart, the little girl in me blowing bubbles in the crowded place. The little boy who had just gotten his new bicycle. The kid that was eating the pinkest cotton candy he had ever seen in his life. The mother who helplessly ran after her triplets after they had noticed the balloon merchant. The rich lady and her two chihuahuas wandering around town. She took them all with her and never came back. She never apologized for it.

But I'm a teenager after all. I’ve always thought my breakups and heartbreaks would come from boys that gave me promises for dates and never showed up at my door; not from an old rusty city, destroyed and rebuilt seven times.

August 4th, 2020. A date I swore to never forget. The day Beirut decided to break my heart into a million pieces that my people cleaned along with the shattered glass on balconies. The day of the year that I despise the most. It became a day of mourning and dread, instead of a beachy summer day in August. I hated that day. I still hate everything that reminds me of it. I hated cleaning up the blood of innocents on the street as much as I hated myself for feeling so powerless that day.

I walked down streets that once were symbols of joy and prosperity, only for my gaze to be met with the burnt-out eyes of mothers searching for their lost children under the ashes. I saw hope in their eyes, despite everything. I had heard the screams of people searching for their brothers, sisters, and lovers they never got to say goodbye to. I felt nothing and everything at all. This feeling of guilt, intolerance: I had felt it in my skin and down my bones.

I hope that the word “Beirut” ignites a never-ending torment in the minds of these filthy murderers. I really do.