“The cards were my childhood, how can I hate them?” Raoul said recently. “And I was the best.”
One night, as Raoul slept — a dining table was nailed to his bedroom window to protect him from snipers — the bombing began. His mother screamed at him and watched furiously until they found then five-year-old Raoul crying and hugging a framed photograph of the Virgin Mary falling from the wall and praying for her life. After that, he stuttered.
“When I left Lebanon, I left. I only took stuttering with me, “said Raoul, who has lived in the United Arab Emirates and Poland since leaving Lebanon. “And that’s it. That’s the luggage I took with me.”
I was lucky. I didn’t grow up in Lebanon, at least not full time, because my father worked abroad and waited for the end of the war and the opportunity to move back.
Yet every summer, no matter what happened – the Israeli invasion, the suicide bombing that killed hundreds of US Marines – we came back to be with our family, holding hands and saying, We didn’t leave you. It was the most tangled fault of the survivors, a role I played every summer until we moved back to Lebanon in the early 1990s, when I was 10.
We had close contacts during those summer visits. In 1985, my mother took my siblings and me on a tour and took the highway down another road. A few seconds later, a giant explosion occurred at the site of our car, killing at least 50 people. We watched as the wounded fled and blood ran down their faces.
Many wonder how their adult lives would be better if their childhood were different.
Abed Bibi, a 58-year-old woman married to my boyfriend, can’t handle the dark.