August 4, 2020 was meant to be the wedding day that Lebanese doctor Israa Seblani had always dreamed of, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.
Israa was standing radiant in a square in Beirut that afternoon, after marrying businessman Ahmad Subeih, when the scene was shattered by a deafening roar, and a powerful shockwave that nearly blew her off her feet.
More than 200 people were killed by the blast in Beirut on August the 4th and thousands more were injured.
Swathes of the city were destroyed, including the hotel where they were due to spend their first night as newlyweds.
The couple are so haunted by the memories of the blast that they do not have a photo of their wedding on display.
“It’s a memory that can’t be forgotten. It is living with us and might be living with us until we die. Those memories will live us until we die or loose our memory. But this moment, for me or for her, doesn’t leave our mind. It’s correlative with us, in our life, mind, brain and soul, and it is staying with us, we are just coexisting with it, not more.”
“We don’t even like to go back in memory to that time, especially me, to a point where until today, I still don’t have a photo of my wedding day at home. I didn’t put a photo of us up, and I can’t, even though I received it as a gift, but I can’t.”
As the first anniversary of the blast – and their wedding – approaches, the couple plan to keep themselves busy with work.
She at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, he at his clothing business.
They soon hope to leave Lebanon to escape the economic crisis there.
Ahmad says they just want stability and security.
As for Israa, she hopes not to be reminded of the fact that her wedding day fell on one of the darkest days in her country’s history.