The air raid

Photo by Rahul from Pexels

“We have to stay quiet now,” my grandfather said, switching off the light of the living room. Israeli jet planes were flying menacingly low over Beirut that night.

In the room were my maternal grandparents, my aunt, mother, my three-year-old sister and myself, aged five. We had all gathered on the floor in the center of the pitch-black house, a safe spot farthest from the windows.

We sat in a circle, holding our breaths, but I couldn’t keep still. Harder yet was to remain quiet. I had many questions and didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation.

My grandfather, the only man in the house that day, ordered me firmly to be quiet but I couldn’t abide. I kept talking and he, probably nervous and afraid for our lives, slapped me on the face. It worked.

This memory, still as clear as the day it happened, has been with me since then. I always wondered why my mother let it happen. Why she didn’t stand up to him or at least comfort me.

A few years back, in casual conversation, I asked her about it. I recalled the entire situation, but she couldn’t remember it. I gave her every detail.

“Your grandfather never visited us in that house,” she said. “Your grandfather was out of the country by then.” I then searched online and all records of Israeli air raids that year show that they happened in the daytime.

Wow. This lucid, detailed, and emotionally charged memory of mine was not true. Most probably it was a dream or something.

I learned that I must question everything.

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