In 1976, it was my mother who had an incredible "gut feeling"...
There was nothing special on that hot summer day. I mean, war was still on, like usual, but after more than a year of fierce fighting, we had gotten used to it.
For those of you too young to remember it, I'll give you a quick tour of the situation:
On Sunday, April 13, 1975, the Lebanese war broke up. The only Lebanese thing about it was its name. All its political, military, financing and whatsoever ingredients were non Lebanese. Lebanon was the screen on which every nation projected its own movie. Being itself the living proof of a historic, yet shaky compromise, Lebanon was not in a position to argue much. I will be telling you more about it in other postings.
Like most of the guys my age, I had enrolled in the Lebanese Forces, to defend ourselves against the terrorists. At that particular time, I was not on the front line.
Our head quarters had confined me to a check-out point at the limit of our city. A "safe" security job, if I may put it this way. This new post made my parents feel a lot let stressed, having been traumatized for me, being in the heart of the battle fields in the front lines, a few months earlier.
On that particular day, and for the first time, my mother asked me not to go for my night shift. I tried my best to assure her but to no avail. So, I went to our HQ and asked for a permission, which was rejected. On my insistence, my commanding officer asked me to go see if any reservist would accept to replace me. I went to the guys in the lobby, and made my request public. One young man I didn't know accepted to take the job. But I'd have to relief him of duty no later than 3:00 a.m., which was the early morning shift. I promised I'd be there. My superior didn't mind having a less experienced person for that night, since we had not been on red alert for a while, then. So I thanked both of them and went home.
I informed my mom I had managed to switch the night shift
for the next morning's. That evening, after supper, I went to bed
early, as I had to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to join my unit. My mom made
me some tea before bed time, and insisted that I drink it. That was very
unusual of her.
I dressed up in an awful hurry, ran to our HQ and got on the first Jeep to the check-point. As we reached the boulevard, we saw the whirling red light refraction on the surrounding buildings. My heart stopped beating. It was the field ambulance. As we got to the bunker where I was supposed to be stationed, I saw the medics carrying the dead body of the reservist replacing me. The checkpoint had been hit by an 82 mm mortar bomb an hour earlier.