I was exactly 15 miles away from the blast that shook Beirut on the 4th of August.
I had heard bombs before, but the bang that rocked my country that day was nothing like anything we ever experienced.
I wasn’t physically harmed, and I didn’t lose a family member, a home, a business, or a car, like many fellow compatriots. However, I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for days, as the number of casualties continued to rise.
It was the first time I faced my own mortality as an adult.
Days after the explosion, on one of my sleepless nights, I was browsing the internet when I came across a poem that expressed my feelings and thoughts—like literature always does. The most important thing about literature is being able to use other people’s words to convey what we are unable to utter at times.
La Marioneta, or The Puppet, was wrongly attributed to Gabriel García Márquez as being the farewell poem that he wrote on his deathbed, when, in fact, a Mexican ventriloquist, Johnny Welch, wrote it to his puppet.
I would like to share a part of it, in the hope that it heals a part of your hearts and lives, like it did to mine.
“If for a moment God would forget that I am a rag doll and give me a scrap of life, possibly I would not say everything that I think, but I would definitely think everything that I say.
I would value things not for how much they are worth but rather for what they mean.
I would sleep little, dream more. I know that for each minute that we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.
I would walk when the others loiter; I would awaken when the others sleep.
I would listen when the others speak, and how I would enjoy a good chocolate ice cream.
If God would bestow on me a scrap of life, I would dress simply, I would throw myself flat under the sun, exposing not only my body but also my soul.
My God, if I had a heart, I would write my hatred on ice and wait for the sun to come out. With a dream of Van Gogh I would paint on the stars a poem by Benedetti, and a song by Serrat would be my serenade to the moon.
With my tears I would water the roses, to feel the pain of their thorns and the incarnated kiss of their petals…my God, if I only had a scrap of life…
I wouldn’t let a single day go by without saying to people I love, that I love them.”
Translated by Matthew Taylor and Rosa Arelis Taylor.