Image: Samer Noun
Nature has a way of quickly reclaiming what people leave behind.
Even at the best of times, it’s a strange sensation walking into an abandoned home – the rooms and hallways, once so full of the bustle and noise of daily family life, now silent except for one’s echoing footsteps.
Imagine, then, how much more unsettling this feeling would be with the added knowledge that those who left the house – one day in September 1983 – may well have met a grim fate, massacred by their own neighbors and people they once called friends. Others were more fortunate – forced to flee their ancestral homes, yes, but at least managing to escape with their lives. Yet many would never return.
Maasser el Chouf certainly doesn’t look like the setting for a horror story. Located in scenic pine- and cedar-forested mountains, close to Lebanon’s largest nature reserve, it seems the epitome of an idyllic Mediterranean village. Yet the streets are quiet between its old, white stone houses – deserted or otherwise – and tension still exists between the Christian and Druze communities here. Indeed, the roots of the conflict run deep, long predating what happened in 1983, when 63 Christians were killed in the village, and many more left forever.