Memoir Part 7: Bomb on the Beach

Between the mountains and the sea, the breeze goes back and forth, alternating in the direction between night and day, elevating some of the torture of the hot perpendicular rays of the sun in the daytime, and the other torture of the high humidity at night.

We played on the Kournish Thursday nights till we were exhausted.  We either went back home biking, or we met our parents in whichever house of a family they were spending time with that night.

We would play soccer, build castles, find dead fish, occasionally helping fishermen pulling their nets from the sea, creating obstacle courses with bicycles, throwing stones, discovering new things, attacking abandoned houses after creating myths about them to scare ourselves, eating berries off the best berry trees in the area, and if we met a new boy, we would discover him and it would be a very exciting Thursday night for us.  We would gather around him asking him questions, listening to his stories, till there was nothing more to know about him.  It was like an initiation to friendship.  I experienced that myself moving from one city to another when the students in a new class would gather around me and shower me with questions.  In few minutes, you would make 10’s of new friends and few best friends.

If you grew up in UAE at that time, you grew up knowing and loving Sheik Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of UAE, and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, as well as the President of UAE.  He was commonly named Baba Zayid because of his fatherly love and figure to all the Emirates.  He was one of the wise tribal leaders who is only remembered for his positive accomplishments and kind leadership, true to the Arabic and Islamic issues.  UAE was very stable and growing fast during his time.

During that time (1983-1986), there were two major events in the Middle East: The first was the Iraqi-Iranian war which took place just across the Persian Gulf (we called it Arabian Gulf).  The second was the Israeli occupation of Lebanon all the way to Beirut and the birth of the Islamic and Lebanese resistance in Lebanon.  Both these wars had direct effects on my family and our surroundings.

While playing on the kournish one Wednesday night (because our school had that Thursday off coincidently), I, Hamoudi my brother, and Islam my Egyptian friend, found a little yellow metal container that looked like a fire extinguisher being washed ashore by the dark salty waves.  Anything that entered our space, new and different, got all of our attention, having nothing else to entertain ourselves with on that stranded pseudo-island.

It was heavy, and we started playing with it. It had writings in English, and picture instructions that showed a picture of an explosion at the end.  I told Islam to throw it away because it seemed dangerous, but we couldn’t resist following the instructions. While implementing the instructions step by step, unlocking the head cover, pulling some strings, up to pressing a red button, we were laughing out loud, thinking that we found a bazooka.

Well, less than a second from us laughing and Islam pressing the red button, it seemed that a year passed.  Although much of the details have been blocked in my memory due to the shock, all I remember that there was a big explosion.  Lucky enough the bomb was directional and it flew right into the sea before it exploded inside in the ocean and covered the surface of the sea with a huge field of fire, that was meters high.

I also remember that I was running as fast as I can.  Islam was running too.  Hamoudi was nowhere to be found.  Islam’s hand burnt because he was the last person holding the bomb before it went off.  We ran about a mile far. Then we looked around us for Hamoudi nowhere to be found.  We were looking at the fire. Did something happen to Hamoudi?!  And then we see his silhouette with the fire behind him, running towards us.  For some reason, Hamoudi pretended that he was dead after the explosion.  But when he received no attention because no one was there, he got up and ran towards us.

Hamoudi arrived, and all of us were breathing crazy hard, then we looked at each other, covered with sand, and water (due to the big splash in the ocean of the explosion), we cracked up and started laughing hysterically. We decided to go to the little police office on the Korneich and inform the police.

We went in, and an Emirati police officer with a big belly in front of him was sitting in the airconditioned room watching TV.  He probably has never dealt with any situation ever.  Khorfakan is a very quiet safe city with a small population.  We were little scared of talking to him, but he was smiling and joking with us.  We told him that we found something that looked like a fire extinguisher and we played with it, but it exploded.  He said he was wondering what was that loud explosion sound.  He promptly called more units using his two-way radio.

In few minutes, after people heard the explosion, people gathered at the kournish, as well many police units arrived.  We were looking at people talking, making up rumors and theories.  Us being in third or fourth grades, could not really tell the people gathered that it was us who found and caused the explosion. The police shut down the kournish, and they combed the whole beach finding multiple of these devices.  We later knew that it was dropped from ships carrying weapons to the Persian gulf.  Islam went home because he needed some medical attention for his hand.  Me and Hamoudi went home and decided not to tell mother so we don’t get a good old Arabic beating for being trouble makers.

When we arrived home, my mom ran to the door and she was shocked and terrified. She hugged us and made sure we were ok.  She said that the police called and asked them to bring us to the police station to collect our statements.  My father came back, and he was a little angry for us “causing trouble”.  If you are a boy in an Arabic house, you never want the police to call home and ask for or about you.  It is a tabboo.  The police first asked that we go to the hospital to be checked.  Then we went to the police station so they would take our statements.  My father, being the Manager of National Bank of Abu Dhabi in Khorfakan (basically where all the police salaries are banked), knew everyone, and received so much respect from the police officers.  They were cracking jokes about us, and about Lebanese and bombs.

This remained as a single memory that never will be erased.  And we were lucky that we survived it.  Death brushed our hair on that day.  Our lives would have been completly changed if Islam was not pointing the bomb to the sea.  The sea saved us.

Published by W

Wissam, Wesley, or simply W, is an educator, writer, entrepreneur, engineer, activist, ex-Imam, humanist, liberal thinker with interest and mediocre attempt at many takes of life. A modern confused Renaissance man, who uses doubt as a path for emancipation and science as a road towards enlightenment.

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