..he pulled out a weapon and fired..

Just like that. On the main road. In Quraytem. In the afternoon. From the window of his car. I saw a gun slowly get out of the window. I knew it was going to shoot. I prayed for Allah not to make me see someone fall to the ground with a gunshot. And I hoped we won’t get killed with a stray bullet. I probably wished he didn’t fire. But he did.

I have to start this story from the beginning. Fact is, I was expressing my happiness out loud yesterday about me being outside the country on April 13th, the anniversary of the Civil War. I simply would rather not be around to witness people celebrate the end of a war that pretty much still lives inside many hearts and bodies. But things didn’t go as simply as I wanted them to.

Today, I left LAU at 3 o’clock and headed to Jiddo’s house for a family lunch. Since Teta passed away in November, these gatherings at her house became less frequent and often planned, rather than spontaneous. And they terribly lack her presence, which I know Jiddo feels. I stole a look at his face today and saw tears in his eyes. So I took a chance and asked how is he doing. He smiled. Our gathering at his/her house makes him happy. But it also makes him miss her badly. Just like we miss our lovers when we are happy and want them to be there to share it, and to enjoy it to the maximum. He misses her.

We had a good meal and then I was offered a ride by my aunt. So I gratefully took it. The ride from Raouche to Labban is no more than 5 minutes by car. You go up towards the Saudi Embassy then to Quraytem, near the Hariri Palace, and then take a left down to Labban. That’s it. But today’s ride suddenly became very long because of this guy who fired a gun from the car in front of us.

There was this Porsche Cayanne driving really slowly ahead. We were all starting to beg the driver to move it. My aunt was almost pushing his car with the front bumper of the GMC she drives. I noticed the Porsche had license plates with four numbers only. Someone with lots of money. Someone who likes to show off and let people know they have lots of money. We almost gave up. I told my aunt this man has the right to drive however he want. “He’s driving a Cayanne!” But I didn’t know he also had the right to do other things.

The Porsche drove past the Hariri Palace. It slowed down even more. And suddenly from the driver’s window, a pistol came out. It wasn’t steady first, it was shaky, as if searching for a prey. Then it steadied and BANG. What spans a couple of lines here almost ended my life in that car. I have never seen anybody shooting a pistol in real life. Not as far as I remember. I’ve seen men in our family shoot hunting guns. But those are for hunting animals, not killing people. The sight of a real pistol sticking out the window of a car in the middle of Beirut, in Qoraytem particularly (supposedly a heavily protected area), was shattering. I don’t want to see people killing each other. I hate whatever motive that makes any human being pull out a gun at any creature. I simply can’t live with it. Yet, here is a guy pulling out a weapon and firing it right in front of everybody on the street.

The gunshot was almost unheard. The target was a pigeon, that escaped. The driver is insane. I am still alive at the time of typing this. But that was really scary. And the worse part? No one did anything when that gun was out searching for a prey. Life froze.

Author: Niam

Filmmaker/Digital Nomad/Storyteller

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