As he did most days when I was home from university, my dad came into my room at six in the morning and placed a cup of Turkish coffee on my bedside table. He had been awake for a couple of hours, and he was getting ready to head back into the orchard under our house, in Bhamdoun, a picturesque town overlooking Beirut, to water the trees.
I had planned a "cleanliness campaign" that day with our Friends of Nature Club at the village. We had started the club that year as part of a fledgling environmental movement in Lebanon, but in the days following the Israeli invasion of 1982 we turned our attention to clearing up the rubble and debris of the aerial bombing of the Israel Defense Forces.
My dad was visibly worried. He said: "Baba, please be careful. There may still be unexploded bombs on the side of the streets. Be extra careful."
These were the last words I heard him say. And probably the last words he said.
Later that morning, I took a break from the cleaning campaign to buy additional brooms for the volunteers. I had to go to the next town to pick these up. Curiously, the shop did not have brooms in the showroom, and the owner gave me the key to the storage house to get them. When I got there and turned the key in the keyhole, it broke inside.
Things happened very fast after that. Before I had time to react, a speeding car came to a screeching halt next to me. Militiamen were inside. One of them called my name, with an insistently alarming tone: "We have been looking for you everywhere! Get in the car quickly." A few minutes later, the militiaman in the passenger seat turned back to me. "You have to be strong now. For the sake of your mother. Ammo Fadel was killed this morning. A cluster bomb exploded. Apparently the bomb got caught in the garden hose as he was dragging it between trees. He died instantly. It is best that you not look at him. His face is completely torn out." (Ammo Fadel was how my father was known in the village.)
I did not say much for several days after that. And I did not drink Turkish coffee for several months.