Beirut blast survivor finds solace in memoir after mother’s death | Beirut explosion


Teenager Ariana Papazian had began engaged on her first guide – a science fiction novel – when an enormous explosion decimated Beirut Port and far of the Lebanese capital in August 2020.

In a matter of seconds, the 15-year-old’s world was turned the wrong way up and her novel would quickly turn out to be a memoir about dropping her mom, Delia, on that tragic day.

“I noticed my mom’s physique floating within the air in direction of the proper aspect of the room, and from there the whole lot went south,” Ariana recounts in harrowing element in her guide.

Her mom, Delia, was discovered underneath damaged furnishings and a collapsed aluminium column inside their luxurious high-rise condominium that neglected the devastated port and the Mediterranean Sea.

When the massive stockpile of ammonium nitrate – which had been saved unsafely on the port for years – detonated, Ariana was within the condominium along with her mom, a finest buddy, and youthful brother.

A lot of the constructing the place she lived was destroyed. Doorways had been blown off their hinges, home windows smashed and partitions collapsed underneath the power of one of many largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, and essentially the most harmful single incident in Lebanon’s troubled historical past.

“We had numerous plans, however they had been all ruined inside 10 seconds,” Ariana, now 17, tells Al Jazeera.

“I used to be similar to every other teenager or child,” she says.

“However then I needed to develop up, be there for my household, and make huge choices.”

Writing was a means of processing the whole lot that occurred, she says, sitting poised and calm at a Beirut café for the current launch of her memoir, Delia: A Survivor’s Story.

Ariana Papazian with her mother, Delia, who was killed in the Beirut blast on 4 August 2020
Ariana Papazian along with her mom, Delia, who was killed within the Beirut blast on August 4, 2020, courtesy of Ariana Papazian [Al Jazeera]

“Whereas writing the guide, I began asking myself new questions whereas additionally discovering solutions. I feel I discovered my voice by doing so,” she explains.

“I all the time used to jot down in my journal about my day-to-day experiences, and I assumed that possibly I can flip my anger and unhappiness into one thing that would encourage individuals.”

The inspiration for her writing, she says, was The Diary of Anne Frank which chronicles the lifetime of the German-Dutch Jewish teenager throughout two years hiding from the Nazi occupiers of the Netherlands.

‘This second united us all’

The Beirut Port explosion on August 4, 2020, tore by the guts of the Lebanese capital, killing greater than 200 individuals, wounding 6,500 extra, and flattening a number of neighbourhoods.

Although the lead investigator into the explosion, Decide Tarek Bitar, has charged or pursued a number of high-ranking political and army officers, the investigation nonetheless hangs within the stability with top-ranking political figures submitting authorized complaints to stall the probe.

No officers have but been held accountable and convicted.

Ariana says it was exhausting to simply accept the truth that she misplaced her mom, and the memoir chronicles her journey in direction of acceptance.

Within the 12 months after the explosion whereas writing her guide, Ariana mirrored on life in Beirut with out Delia; being with out her for Christmas, Easter, her birthday, and the various different events that carry a household collectively.

“I used to be combating towards actuality and holding myself in a cage of denial,” she writes.

Recounting the second she misplaced her mom was, unsurprisingly, essentially the most troublesome a part of the guide, she explains, including that she was helped by the assist of her finest buddy, Aya, who was within the condominium on the day of the explosion.

“The trauma and shock froze my emotions. I felt regular, however it impacted me later,” Ariana says, including that she was overwhelmed with anger, particularly when she would cross by the Beirut Port on her solution to faculty.

“The guide was a solution to partially heal from this expertise.”

Practically two years since dropping her mom, Ariana is again at her faculty in Beirut’s Achrafieh district, which was closely broken by the explosion.

She says it’s simpler now to cross by the demolished Beirut port and her outdated condominium constructing.

Ariana Papazian with her mother, Delia
Ariana Papazian along with her mom, Delia, who was killed within the August 4, 2020 Beirut blast, courtesy of Ariana Papazian [Al Jazeera]

Although she nonetheless misses her mom daily, she additionally believes that Delia lives on by the robust relationship they’d and the affect her mom has had on her life. Ariana says she is now centered on faculty purposes and taking care of her youthful brother, who is nearly 10.

“My mom handed on loads of her values to me. She taught me to be clear with individuals,” she says with a smile.

“I actually consider within the energy of speech. We stay in a rustic the place individuals don’t be happy or converse freely as a result of they’re afraid of being threatened,” she says.

As writing helped to heal her sorrow, Ariana hopes that her guide will now assist to carry her nation and folks collectively as they battle to deal with financial and political turmoil.

“All of us had completely different experiences in the course of the blast, however this second united us all,” she says.

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