On 4 August 2020, late in the afternoon, Hiam called her son, Ahmad Kaadan, who was a taxi driver. He was happy because he had a good day. He told her he just finished work in the Bekaa Valley and was driving home to their apartment in Tariq el-Jdideh, Beirut, for dinner. An hour later, Hiam and her daughter started preparing dinner in the kitchen as her husband Ibrahim prayed in the living room. 

At 18:07, a loud explosion shakes the building. Hiam runs to the balcony. Her husband and daughter follow. Behind the buildings, they see purple smoke billowing. Hiam feels shivers down her spine and her chest tightens. She calls Ahmad several times before a man answers and informs her that her son is injured in Gemmayzeh.

Minutes later, Ibrahim and Hiam jump on their moped and ride towards Gemmayzeh. The street looks apocalyptic. They both witnessed the Lebanese Civil War, but nothing compares to what they see now. As they walk down the street, they spot a car similar to Ahmad’s, its blinkers flashing. Rubble from the buildings nearby has fallen onto the driver’s side. They keep walking, praying the car is not his. Ibrahim opens the door, and Ahmad’s wallet falls out. In the back seat, a cake lies intact in its box.

Ibrahim and Hiam rush to the nearby Hospital Wardieh, where they have been told that Ahmad was taken. In the parking lot of the destroyed hospital, they find Ahmad lying on a wooden door placed on the ground. He is covered with blood, his eyes open. Ibrahim comforts his son, who tries to respond but can only spit blood. 

Minutes later, Hiam hears the sirens of an approaching ambulance. She blocks its path and begs the medics to rescue her son. They open the vehicle and find it full of casualties. They manage to squeeze Ahmad in, and the ambulance speeds off to St. Joseph Hospital. Hiam and Ibrahim find a ride and follow behind. A few hours later, Ahmad is taken for medical aid.

That was the last time they saw Ahmad alive. At 1:00, the medics came out to see the family; he did not survive his injuries. He suffered a severe fracture to his skull. 

“There is nothing uglier than losing someone that your heart saw before your eyes did… someone you carried for nine months in your womb… someone who ate and drank with you before you saw him. And then you lose him this way.”

Hiam couldn’t attend Ahmad’s funeral the next day because she fainted when she saw him wrapped in a shroud in front of the building. Every day since then, Hiam and Ibrahim visit their son’s grave.

Ahmad would have turned 30 a week after his death.

A minute of mourning for the victims of the Beirut Port explosion.

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08