Linda Daou realized that it was her son in the hospital emergency room when a doctor gave her his necklace and his key chain. He had reached the hospital with no identification papers, as the police had already taken them at the site of the explosion for investigation. They wouldn’t let her see him, she says. But she understood that something was terribly wrong when her elder son told her to go home.
The slim, grey-haired woman is dressed in black and wears a gold medallion engraved with her late son’s portrait. Antoine Daou, Linda’s youngest, was 23 when he died on September 19, 2007 in Sin al-Fil, when a bomb targeting the convoy of Kataeb MP Antoine Ghanem went off. Six people, the politician, two of his bodyguards and three passersby, died in the attack.
“I saw him on TV before knowing he was dead. It was the body lying on the ground at the scene of the explosion. They kept filming it,” she says, struggling not to cry. Linda Daou can’t stop sighing, bites her lips and huddles on the couch in her living room. The room, as well as the rest of the house, is lined with pictures of her late son: infant Tony being christened, Tony the child smiling happily from under a tiny monk’s robe, teenage Tony with his scout troop, adult Tony at a party. “His friends put all these pictures in frames. They used to call him Abou Aaj’a [Mr. Noise] because he was so loud and agitated and full of life.
Everyone in the building knew when he was home,” she says.
Tony had just finished his courses and was about to graduate from college as an electrical engineer. He was very active in the scout movement, but he was also political and used to work as a bodyguard for MP Antoine Ghanem during his summer vacations. He used the money he earned to help his family, as his mother had been fired during the 2006 July War, and his father was ill, his mother explains.
“He couldn’t sit in one place. If he sat for five minutes, it was a miracle! Every Christmas he dressed as Santa Claus for the neighbor’s children,” Linda Daou says, sobbing. “He broke my heart! He broke my heart! A few months after he died, his father passed away too. He was ill, and he couldn’t handle the loss.”
The last days before he died, her son began acting strange. His employer came back to Lebanon on September 16 after a two-month stay in Abu Dhabi, where he had gone after receiving death threats. On September 19, the 23-year -old bodyguard took his mother’s old cell phone to let Ghanem use. She told him she was afraid, but her son tried to reassure her. “See, mother, if God is with me, it means he is happy with what I am doing. Whatever may happen is His will. I can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“He closed the elevator door and he was gone forever,” Linda Daou says with a shrug.
She still keeps his scout shirts in his room. She takes them out of the closet and buries her nose in them before laying them on the bed. “That was his fate, his destiny,” she says and puts her hand over her mouth.
She says she knows nothing about the investigation into her son’s death. She got a call from somebody working for the Special Tribunal once asking if she wanted to be involved in the investigation, but that was all. All she has left are the memorials Tony’s fellow scouts organize and her hope that someday she’ll know more about who took her son’s life.
“If there is one day left of my life I want to know who took my son away from me. It is my right to have this justice. If I didn’t have this faith I wouldn’t be living,” she says.