Shattered Glass

Joe Bejjani

It is a sunny summer day; nearly a year has passed since the Beirut Explosion.
I leave work earlier than usual, and on that day, I set forth on an adventure to walk around Beirut’s shoreline.
I take off my jacket and begin my long journey.
It is such a beautiful day, with the sea waves hypnotizing my mind with their beautiful blue color. Fishermen are quietly waiting for their catch, and I am lucky to spot one of them pull out a beautiful, shiny specimen out of the sea. I can see his empty bucket next to him; it’s the fisherman’s first catch, and it put a wide smile on his face.
Life is going normally, at least that’s what it looks like.
I see buses picking up passengers along the way; people running on the sidewalk, others just walking around taking a sunbath; life is going well…
I am determined to finish my journey, to experience Al Manara and Raoucheh along the way, to breathe that fresh ocean smell and fill my lungs with it.
I am lucky to be able to experience such bliss, and I hope everybody else is able to feel what I feel.

Up until I stumble on a pile of broken glass, a pile of shattered glass on the side of the road: remnants of the Beirut Explosion. And at that moment, I begin to remember that fateful day that made of all of us… shattered glass.

I phase out into a deep, emotional, and reflective state.
I am overwhelmed; I am overrun by emotions, and my eyes start to tear up.
I turn around and look at the sea, and all I can see is that large blue space of serene beauty.
Suddenly, all I can see is blue,
a blank blue screen.
My senses are shut; I can’t hear or feel anyone or anything.
I manage to sit on a bench next to me,
and start remembering…
My tearful eyes shed a tear,
the wind carries it to the sea.
There is quietude; all I can hear is the sound of sea waves crashing.
Thoughts are raging in my mind,
suddenly, I see a vision, a revelation of some sorts…

I write to remember,
how life used to be,
to never surrender,
to what was raging inside of me.

Shattered glass,
is what we were made to be,
from a glass mosaic we used to form
to shards of glass struggling to find a home.

Dispersed, lost all over the world,
yet here we are,
free to choose
what we want ourselves to be.

We used to form this unique mosaic, where people lived, loved, and didn't simply survive.
We used to form a beautiful icon where every one of us found a space, a place where they belonged, a fertile soil in which they grew, a country they called home.
But now, after the Beirut Explosion, many of us have left. Many pieces of the shattered shards of glass left to join other mosaics in other countries, other nations, carrying a piece of Lebanon to all four corners of the world.
But many of us still remain, fending for ourselves in a chaos that is aching for order, in a mess that is screaming for change.
We are here, we still have our colors, even if the dust of the times has dulled our shine.
Difficulties, the crashing economy, and an uncertain future are simply dust, and our colors will shine again.
We are still able to come together and form a different, yet still, beautiful mosaic where we all feel included, loved, and cherished.

Suddenly, I come back to reality, and continue my journey,
just like we all do: pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and fight on.
We are still here, the sun is still shining on my face
and one day, it will shine again on our lives, on our Lebanon…

We write to remember,
to understand further.
We write so the memory we share,
is no longer a reason to despair
but one more reason... to care.