You may be easily able to imagine yourself reading a book in a car or eating in a car, but could you imagine living in a car or even dying in a car?
Yesterday, at least one local news outlet reported the death of an elderly man in Beirut, lying down in the backseat of his Mercedes taxi. The cause of death was a gunshot in the head, it was explained, and nothing more was said of this incident. Yet the real story was a bit different. According to sources who prefer to remain anonymous, familiar with the neighborhood where the body was found, this was an elderly man who drove a taxi by day to make what appeared like a decent living. However, his taxi had also become his home, maybe he didn’t have anywhere else to go but certainly because he couldn’t afford a house. The cause of death was due to a stroke and not a gunshot. The image of this dead Lebanese man, which I have chosen not to post herewith, attests to this fact. The image isn’t disturbing so much as it is sad and indescribably heartbreaking. I have chosen not to post it out of respect for this human being, if only as a humble offering in his final hours, something that this cruel world wasn’t able to give him and that he may have better luck in finding wherever he may be right now.
We may never know what led him to the life he led and why his last days were so miserable. Where is his family? What did he do to deserve this? But Lebanon has indeed taught us that one’s destiny isn’t always linked to the course of one’s life and social justice is always in very short supply. It is hard to imagine anything that could justify such an ending and let’s face it, most of those who would deserve such a lonely and cold ending anyway, never get what they deserve, even more so in Lebanon…
The fact of the matter is that this man happened to live in a country where many more people than we care to see and admit are barely guaranteed their rights and a decent living, let alone guaranteed a dignified ending when their time comes. “I was happy to know that nobody had shot him, but shooting makes more sense than knowing how some people live and suffer in this so-called country,” as someone following this story told me.
Dignity in life and in death is all we ask, even from successive governments that have proven so indecent, corrupt, immoral and unethical themselves. But in Lebanon, that truly is too much to ask.