In the aftermath of a freak event or a natural disaster, it is normal for guilt, pain and fear to be a part of the equation for those who witnessed it, but the absence of reliable formal state institutions to provide urgent support adds to the pile a giant burden on the backs of the youth in the city. The supportive void is so large, in the midst of an also gigantic Pandora’s box of ailments in the country, that the need for their informal manpower becomes incredibly urgent.
It is only a matter of time. In days, or maybe weeks, the Lebanese state’s failure to subsidize raw materials like fuel, wheat, and medicine will be announced. There won’t be any loud explosions, but it will be another time bomb that will destroy whatever had survived the crime at the port.
He picked up a pack of cigarettes to show me what was written on it: “Smoking kills,” he said, “Beirut kills, not smoking.” A little girl approached him, laying her face on his shoulder. He looked at me again and said: “I do not need help, just take the girl and her brother out of the country to live. I don’t want them to die here.”