Stories from Afar & Up Close

Not on the news

Slaapplaats voor een nacht

This is where we tried to sleep tonight: between the bedroom wall and the hallway, with our heads against the toilet. There were rounds of heavy shooting in our street and the streets surrounding us, shrapnel ricocheting off fences and balconies, and big explosions that made the windows rattle. We stayed between the walls, with the windows slightly ajar and the curtains closed, as we were told to do by many civil war-veterans (our friends’ parents).

Yet Hamra is not mentioned on the news. I think no-one really expected much fighting here. ‘If anything happens, come to me!’ I would tell my friends from areas that would obviously be battlegrounds. ‘Don’t worry,’ my friends would tell me in return, ‘you live in Hamra, it’s safe.’ Well, not as safe as we thought. I knew it last night when the janitor of the building told me that the two men who came to check the roof the night before were not Lebanese Army, but from the Future Movement (pro-government Sunni). And when I saw two armed men on the abandoned building across the street.

In the middle of the night we woke up by particularly heavy rumbling. Explosions? Bombings? This sounded too heavy, too close. Then we saw lightning and rain, and we were strangely relieved. Maybe, if they get really wet, the fighters will give up for the night? ‘When I was little,’ I told my friends, ‘I used to think a storm meant that God was angry with the people. He must be really pissed off now!’ ‘Well of course he is! I mean, of course he’s very patient, – after all, it’s God – but come on, he’s dealing with the Lebanese here!