On the outskirts of the village, the smile that never left Krystel's angelic face is now displayed on large banners. Beneath her resplendent image, dark captions illustrate the magnitude of the dra-ma: "Krystel, martyr of corruption and neglect," says one."Rather than a martyr, Krystel is a vic-tim," said Diane Nasrallah, a friend of the deceased, pointing out that "she loved life in all its fa-milial, social and professional aspects."
On the church square, a red carpet had been installed. Rows of white chairs were adorned with roses of the same shade. Close to the altar, also decorated with flowers, a giant screen installed on the side broadcasted over and over sequences from the time of happiness. On the other side, a large portrait was surmounted by a sentence full of hope: "I'm not dying, I'm coming into life." A friend said, "It's her new life we're celebrating." Dalal, the very religious mother of the young woman, thanked God. "Even though my heart is burning, I'm grateful to Heaven for having giv-en me 36 years of happiness alongside Krystel who radiated serenity and joy." Rather than con-demning the ruling class for her loss, she asked: "Maybe I didn't deserve this gift?" Nazih, Krystel's father who is also a strong believer, nevertheless asked the Lord for "a short break," without saying more.
"Save Me Daddy!"
A day after his daughter's funeral, Nazih was able to express himself better. "I can't help but hold a grudge against people who pride themselves on being in charge but use their positions to satisfy their business interests at the expense of the citizens' essential rights," he said. Without naming anyone, the grieving father also denounced "politicians who allow themselves to be bribed by mafias eyeing institutional positions." He said that in the aftermath of the August 4 tragedy, his anger was such that he could not help but contact several leaders of various political movements to shout his rage at them. The day before, Nazih, a practicing cardiologist, had the worst day and night of his life. While visiting his brother in Achkout, he heard the double blast.
He suspected that Krystel could be in Gemmayzeh, in the apartment where she had chosen to live to be closer to her place of work, located in downtown Beirut. He called her immediately. At the other end of the line, he recognized her voice apparently changed by excruciating pain. "Save me daddy, save me!" He hung up, got into his car and drove really fast to the Antelias highway, where traffic began to block. In the meantime, he called the Red Cross to ask them to send an ambulance to take his daughter to the hospital, as well as the valet parking attendant who works near her home to ask him to bring her down from the second floor where she lived so that she could be transported to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Near the Kataeb Party headquarters in Saifi, rubble covered the road. The road leading to the Électricité du Liban was closed by a security cordon, so he tried to make detours in the small congested alleys. Amidst the rubble, burnt-out cars and broken windows, corpses littered the ground. Unable to move forward, Nazih abandoned his car and started running towards his daughter's home, a hundred meters away. Nearly an hour and a half had already passed since the desperate call. When he found his daughter, she was still conscious and smiled at him. He made her drink some water, but he felt she was going. He, who had performed so many cardiac mas-sages during his long career, tried to restart his own daughter's heart. As the ambulance had still not arrived, given the number of injured, a motorist offered his services. Together, they reached the Sisters of the Rosary hospital (L'Hôpital des Sœurs du Rosaire) at the corner of the nearby Pasteur Street. In the forecourt, members of the medical staff tell him that the establishment is not operational, also devastated by the explosions. A rescuer put Krystel in an ambulance parked at the entrance, but he forbade Nazih from accompanying her.
With the help of a friend, the devastated father began a tour of the hospitals. Everywhere, he was told that Krystel was not on the injured list. At dawn, he finally received a call from a friend who told him that his daughter was at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). And that she was in serious condition."I was sure it was over," he said, noting that he had been to this hospital before on his tour, but had not been to the morgue itself. When Nazih arrived in front of the AUBMC, he no longer had the courage to enter. The friend who accompa-nied him did so in his place and came out 15 minutes later, confirming the terrible news.
She never Regretted Returning Home
"During the worst years of the war, my wife and I didn't want to leave the country, as a way of resisting," said Nazih. "We have watched over the education of Krystel and her brothers under the bombs and at candlelight, making them citizens of the world," he said. After her schooling at Notre-Dame de Jamhour College, Krystel obtained a master's degree in economics from L'Uni-versité Saint-Joseph before continuing her studies at L'École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC) in France and working in a major US bank in Geneva. In 2013, she chose to return home and never regretted it.
In addition to her work, she was engaged in a number of altruistic activities. On the very day of her death, she had provided a computer to a young person in her neighborhood to enable him to follow a distance learning course. "Krystel had such inner peace that she could easily give to oth-ers," said Diane, her friend. To her brothers Cedric and Cyril, who urged her to join them in Lon-don, where they live, Krystel replied: "Even though Lebanon, which resembles me, is no longer very great, I still love it and I want to stay here."
(This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 11th of August)
The family and friends of Krystel el-Adem celebrated something like an all-white wedding on Sunday in her native village of Daroun in the Keserwan region. But it was actually a funeral. The relatives of this 36-year-old Lebanese woman, sparkling with life and love, had never imagined that they would have to bury her there, now. The August 4 double explosion at the port of Bei-rut, decided...