It is 4 30 AM - mom wakes us up in a hurry and her face seems unusually pale… she throws clothes on us and asks us to get dressed immediately!
No time to wash your face, brush your teeth, or even ask a question - just get dressed and get in the car.
9 out of 10 times we never got to finish changing and we ended up leaving our apartment either in our pijamas or in an unzipped jeans and non matching socks! It was chaos..
As we leave the building, I find my dad tying a couple foam mattresses to the car and throwing big bulky bags of clothes - food - and all kinds of random stuff in the trunk!
Through our car ride - along with foam mattresses on the top - everyone is silent. You know something is wrong but you have no idea what it is…
5 minutes into the car ride, my dad turns on the radio: “to the people of South Lebanon - you have one hour remaining!”
One hour remaining? For what?
Then my dad switches the radio channel and I can see and sense and feel his nervousness - him being on a mission to save his family’s life - him being a hero -eventhough he never asked to be one.
“The Awwali bridge has been bombed (5 min away from us)” the radio says…
I see my dad scrambling, re routing, taking unconventional roads, and driving for 3 hours a route that usually takes 45 minutes.
I was just six at the time.
I was six and I remember it all…
I remember getting to my uncle’s house in Beirut and getting super excited that we get to be on a family trip!!!!
I remember going to my other uncle’s house and right when I walked in the TV was on.. and on it was footage of babies who lost parts of their bodies (lower torso, head, arm and leg etc..) and they were putting them in garbage bags so they can move them away and look for survivors..
In garbage bags - this is real.
That was my biggest memory of the Qana Massacare.
And these are few second of my years of war memories..
For the longest periods of my life I never understood why I had the same nightmare of military planes shooting our house down.
The nightmare never went away until I was 18 and I told my brothers accidentally about it.
War induced PTSD is real and hard to heal. It creates the resilient, strong, determined immigrants that you and I know, see, and talk to everyday… I have witnessed 4 wars in my life - but my dad: probably close to ten!!!
I am the strongest woman I know because I allow myself to talk about the moments in my life that were made to break the strength in me and you - in us.
Whenever I have doubts..
Whenever life tries to bring me down…
Whenever the tide gets high and the road gets rough…
I remind myself that I am just a girl from South Lebanon 🇱🇧 and that is enough reason for me to celebrate life, resilience, and embrace my experiences both beautiful and painful, and rise above.
#childrenofwar #warenducedtrauma #ptsd #lifeofanimmigrant #lebanonwar #southlebanon #lebaneseindiaspora
*All pictures were taken over the course of the last 25 years in different parts of South Lebanon