Mohamad Ayla Outa
“On this earth what makes life worth living” is a verse from an Arabic poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich, and it perfectly describes the life of 31-year old Mohamed who left Baalbeck to Beirut to navigate its beauty, as he took off his sectarian prejudices and put on the colors of life that are so dear to the beloved city of Beirut.
Mohamed worked as a content manager at Anghami and spent evenings with his friends. He participated in the October 17 revolution, and he dreamed of a Lebanon that resembles him, free from sectarian hatred and resentment. He tasted the flavor of freedom in downtown Beirut, and did not support any political agenda, but only wanted a better Lebanon. He did not know that the country he sought to change would soon turn his life upside down.
On August 4, 2020, Mohamed stayed late at work, and he was getting ready to pick up his friend to celebrate the birthday of a close friend. After he picked her up, he decided to take the coastal road and noticed smoke coming from the port of Beirut. He took it for granted that it was a roadblock and went ahead not knowing that the countdown for the world’s third biggest non-nuclear explosion had begun. Mohamed says that he heard a sound similar to that of an airplane and wondered with his friend whether it was an Israeli attack on Lebanon. Suddenly, the explosion happened, and they both felt their lives had stopped for a moment before they could come back to their senses.
In his damaged car, surrounded by limbs and dead bodies, Mohamed sat with his hands covering his face, unaware of what had happened to him. He looked toward his friend who was covered in blood, hoping she was alive. He started talking to her, and, not thinking of his own bloody injury, he got out of the car and tried to find his way amid the scattered dead bodies to find some help. He came across an angel -as he calls him- who evacuated them to the hospital, which could not accommodate the large number of casualties at the time. Mohamed’s bodily wounds diverted his thoughts from his eye injury and from the fact that he could barely see; according to medical reports, his vision had decreased to 20% capacity, which he learned from a reporter’s broadcast where she mentions that his doctor had not shared with him the reality of his medical condition, saying that his retina was severely damaged. Mohamed was shocked and his family was saddened by the news, his vision of beautiful life became one long dark tunnel.
Mohamed underwent several operations covered by private insurance provided by the private company he worked for, since the government only covered those injured by the blast for three days, ignoring those who sustained severe injuries requiring additional care.
After each of his surgeries, Mohamed’s hope for recovering his sight increased, and he indeed regained his vision, but he will never return to Beirut. He decided to leave the country because the pain has become intolerable. He left, but he still calls for his right to justice, accountability, and compensation.