Election season is full swing in Lebanon and all the prospective MPs are running wild trying to secure the votes of citizens by their hollow promises. They have breached numerous of these pledges including finding justice for those slain by personal guns. So that we don’t forget, this is the story of Roy Hamouch who was gunned down last year as told by his friend Johnny Nassar.
It all started when they were having lunch in the Officers’ Club and decided to leave around 11. Roy and Johnny were alone in the car reminiscing about their university days when a driver started wielding in and out of the lanes. Roy told Johnny to pay attention to a car that was weaving in and out of traffic lest they have an accident. The other car kept maneuvering and it ended up in a slight accident with their car. Both cars stopped to check the damage, but the driver in the other car leapt outside and started banging on the hood and all over the car. Roy and Johnny kept the doors closed because they didn’t want matters to escalate. After the other driver stopped and returned to his car, the young men tried to escape by taking the highway. They got involved in a heated pursuit as the other car kept on their trail. Roy and Johnny eventually had to stop thinking they had shock off their assailants, but even the head start did not help them escape the much faster car. Immediately, the driver of the other car came out and started shooting at them. The bullets riddled the car and they realized their lives are in danger. They got out of the car to escape impending death, and Johnny had no choice but to move to a little alleyway that leads to a closed street with a parking lot. The other car boxed them in and they had nowhere else to move.
The driver that was later on known Adnan came to Johnny’s side and tried to remove him from the car. He failed and ended up tearing Johnny’s shirt. The gunman Mohammad came over spewing foul language and threatening with his gun. He lifted the gun and shot at Johnny close range, but fortunately, the gun misfired and no bullets came out. Johnny reflects back on the surreal situation of being ruthlessly chased, shot at and almost killed for a simple car bump. He remembers asking Mohammad the gunman about the reason that drove them to this senseless tirade. Johnny noticed that Mohammad was reloading, so he took the instinctive decision to run away. A few seconds later, he heard and felt around 6 all around him while he tried to run for safety. Being on the track team, he managed to put some distance fast; ironically, he was chased by guard dogs protecting the property which drove him on faster. As soon as he found refuge, he made a call to police who were extremely helpful. In around of 20 minutes, they were at Johnny’s location. He told them the whole story and asked them to check on his friend Roy. Even though they already suspected Roy to be dead, they kept calling Roy who was not answering. They started asking Johnny some questions on the way to the location where Roy was last found, and there they found the body of Roy. Johnny describes the next few hours to be a haze as he struggled to accept the fact that his best friend is dead. After a few minutes and after they ascertained Roy was dead, Johnny was asked to identify the body. Stepping into a twilight zone, seeing Roy with his neck snapped, he couldn’t reconcile this corpse with his vibrant friend. The first thing that came to his mind was how Roy’s mother Rima will feel. She was so concerned about her son that she wouldn’t even allow him to go any too far from home.
As a man of faith, Johnny knew that Roy was destined for the heavens, but the bitter agony of a wasted life tore at him in those first few minutes. Images of Roy from the past and the possible future kept running through his mind. The tragedy of his parents finding out was a constant reminder of how tactile yet fragile life can be. During these moments, his mom called him and he told her he has had a small accident, but he gave her a wrong location so she wouldn’t come over. He spent hours providing information and looking at cameras to find out how the murder started. He called his brother to calm his parents and found out that they were all searching for him, but he was unable to tell them what happened till many hours later. When his parents finally found him, the floodgates came crashing down and he let loose of all the tension that was stored. On the other hand, Roy’s parents were frantically trying to find him or call Johnny to no avail. His mother finally used Roy’s cellular phone to locate him. They eventually found out Roy was in an accident until they eventually discovered his death when they went to the hospital.
Johnny spent two days in the investigation, and his help was instrumental in finding the culprits in a matter of days. He remains grateful for the care and professionalism the law enforcement members showed him throughout the process. He recalls the first three months that were extremely difficult. One thing that gnaws on him is when people ask him why he didn’t ask Roy to run away with him. While he understands the sentiment, he confesses guilt still holds a grip on him when people cross-question him. Some even doubt that Roy and Johnny must have done something to provoke such a reaction. He reassessed his priorities when he realized all the hard work and accomplishments he has had can be snuffed out by a random bullet shot by a coward. How can a nation be built if it is full of his likes? How will the coming generations deal with all of this chaos? Johnny confesses that the moths were arduous for him, but he cites two reasons for his recovery; the love that Jesus has shown to him and mankind and all the support he has received from everyone. It gave him a new perspective on life because he believes Jesus has saved him for a purpose. He decided his new mission after Roy’s death is to share the message of joy and happiness to commemorate Joy. Instead of festering on hate, Roy’s legacy will be preserved by creating an NGO that will help change people like Mohammad the gunman. The path from birth to that fatal bullet must have been full of anguish to spiral him so out of control. The hate must be cured before it festers into uncontrolled acts of violence. For everyone who has known Roy, there could be no ending more fitting to the memory of heaven’s latest addition.
Roy and Johnny are real people. They are not just two random victims of senseless violence. They have a voice and a purpose. Even the assailants have a story that needs to be told. There are wrongs that need to be rectified beyond this case. After 9 long years, we finally have the opportunity of holding those in power responsible for the dire states that sparked these tragedies. Remember the faces of those who were victimized because of the political strata before you vote for the vicious never-ending cycle of death and despair to persist.