Tamer El Khatib
“The canvas drawn from blood.”
There is a land; it once stood with all its might and hope. A land called “Lebanon”. Blessed with light as its people lived everyday like it was their last. Happiness was all that was spread; this land went through all that life had. War, death, and blood, but that never stopped the determination. The grim reaper lurked around this land waiting for when he could strike.
The most optimistic people are the Lebanese. Leaving the past behind and letting it flow. The people knew peace now, as they drowned their thoughts and memories of the past. They lived in a time with no time since the time they had made darkness lurk around their land. By forgetting the past, all forms of time crumble beneath you.
This land was odd since wherever men went, they would be back to the Middle Ages. The Lebanese have gone through the worst of empires such as the Ottoman Empire. The land itself was separated. The buildings built, the way of life, the poverty, and the hunger were all there. People enclosed, from the outside world and their own people. Unable to get their basic needs of living, this caused hunger to be spread upon one part of this separated land. The other part could do nothing but watch as their fellow people died. Whoever dared to try to help would get their soul tortured until it left their body. This led three-fourth of the Lebanese citizens to die. All this chaos and death lead to two types of people: The first, who took advantage of the hungry, who cared about their riches, inflating the price of essential goods to astronomical numbers. The others tried helping the people by selling all the riches they had to help the poor and feed the hungry.
This very division is what is seen today. Just like all the wars, yet Lebanon isn't going through one. It’s an indirect war, a silent murder of the people. They lived in a land that had been stuck in the past with people who had no mercy nor remorse. The government held power, abusing all there is of people and morality. In a place where death is welcomed, since then freedom is felt. People screaming in agony and pain. Their families are dying one by one–where they can do nothing but look.
A place where all regret their lives. All chains of one man can be present, where everything life has meets with the nothing it presents. No man has ever lived such a life. No man has ever gone through such a thing. What makes this time different is that all the bad that can come to people, the Lebanese have already gone through.
People who have gone through war describe this land as darker than what exists there. Yet, every Lebanese person is oblivious. Not because of lack of knowledge but because of the regret they feel. They feel regret because people die if they have knowledge; because if a person is ignorant, then they live. The pain they feel is all forgotten at the moment. They turned a blind eye.
They were oblivious though they knew all. They chose their life since if they rebelled then death would accompany them. They were all silent, yet they could speak. They were all blind, but they could see–as the ones lost in time watched the beautiful land they once had.
But of course, one day, the grim reaper decided to strike. He stood at the entrance of the land, the one that opened the land to the world and kept it safe. He knocked once, nothing. Twice, nothing. Thrice, still nothing. And finally on the fourth, the entrance opened.
As it opened, everything flooded. The sky filled with smoke as a mushroom formed. As the screams echoed in the chambers of minds of every Lebanese. The blood and gore seen. The people searching for their loved ones. As every heart shook with that explosion. The port, the safe place with nothing but peace –now there was poison in that pure place.
It happened in the center, in the heart of Lebanon. In Beirut, the place of all joy and glory. The place that went through so much now crumbles because of irresponsibility. The canvas was that pure and safe port, and the government drew their painting with the people's blood, so they could gain power.
A bomb is ticking to explode. Every heart bled, ached, filled with hate. Then, all time stopped. No man at that moment was not shocked.
On that day, 214 people lost their lives, over 6,000 were injured and thousands found themselves without any shelter, their lives and livelihoods completely shattered. No human has breathed such foul air. No human has ever lived through the blood on knees and heads.
The grim reaper did no job, for he had never entered unless through small cracks taking a bunch of people. The placements of those cracks and the people taken were all carefully planned. By whom? By people who wanted political power and for there to be no opposition. For there to be no person who thinks of others. Those very people used the power of the lack of knowledge of the people to stab them continuously until they had all the riches they wanted. But greed is their common sin. Thus, they can never be satisfied; they want more, they need more. Yet people tried to rebel, people tried to fix, and people tried to stop the greed those powers had, to no avail. People who held knowledge, light, and wanted what was good. They all were assassinated–as their blood dries in the skies above.
Yet who once stood high now stood higher upon the clouds. And who once stood on the ground, beneath the rubble were their sounds.
Sometimes, the grim reaper would be let in intentionally by others for their sins of greed and pride. For all the wrath they felt now as they fell on their knees. No agony felt like this, no people deserved this. Yet all one man could do was pray, for there was nothing to do today. All of this happened in all forms of time– now before and thereafter. But that one moment is still frozen: the darkness hasn't entered the lands and all there is present are screams of blood and gore. Fear and nothing more.
That darkness and fear had engulfed the land in a couple of seconds. Screams and shouts echoed in the dark void. The land finally had time: the past became the present, and fear became the future.
Time has passed since that 4th knock; darkness remained as a memory of what happened waiting for the people to lose hope for it to take over. The people looked around for an answer and never gave up, as they realized that the entrance was not broken into –that, in fact, it had been opened.
At that moment, the people who were once blind finally saw. The people who couldn’t remember, finally had memories. The people who were once silent could speak. All there was now was the truth. What truth can be told now; what reality is lived in. Everything once known to these people was a lie. Everything that had been bright became dim. They realized that everything was nothing now.
Then they realized that the oblivion they’d once had led them here. The deaths they had overlooked. The screams they’d never heard. The memories they’d once had. They all lead to this.
Now, they know one truth: that the darkness was created from light. These very people now fight the darkness that is hidden in the shadows of light. They realized one thing: a man made of light can still follow his shadow to the darkness. This realization showed them that no person that held power helped. No person in the government looked at any man. No one but the people gave a helping hand. The people were oppressed, yet they hadn’t cared until that explosion.
An explosion that shook their mind. The sky that bled so high. It caused the people to rebel, and now the blood shed will not go in vain. Every murderer will get justice. Every man that has been hurt, every child that cried. Those people will not be forgotten.
It is their blood drawn on that canvas. Their screams echo in all of Lebanon.