Creative writing

The Day my Life Changed, by Yara Zalzal

Summer of 2011. This was when my journey toward a plant-based diet and animal welfare started seeing the light of day. As I was hiking the Austrian Alps with a group of international students, I stumbled upon a herd of free range cows, lying there, peacefully, and having the time of their lives. I instantly felt a connection, but I went back to the Schloss where we were being housed and ate a meat-based dish. I was 18 at the time and was going through enormous life-changing experiences. It took me a year and a half to entirely shift my diet. My younger brother has been my biggest influence on this front since he turned vegetarian ever since he was 15 years old. I remember the days I used to make fun of him for not eating meat and how thoughtless and heedless I must have been at the time. He was the one who would always have his little animal toys around him and would spend the day playing with them. We always had our family dogs around whom we used to buy from pet shops or reputable breeders. We had no idea at the time and our parents didn't know any better back then. We all knew for sure that we loved animals and did not want any harm done to them. My greatest turning point was when I rescued my first dog back in 2012 and that was when I was able to put all the pieces together and somehow recalled my cow experience at the Alps. I finally made the connection and was ready to change my ways. I always knew that wasn't enough and that going vegan was the next step ahead because of the pain they felt... Well, I couldn't shake the thought of it out of my head. Not to mention all the negative consequences consuming meat and dairy products inflict upon our health and the environment. I wanted what was best for them. I wanted to reduce my carbon-footprint. Wanted to take care of my health. I made the ultimate shift back in December 2020, when the world was collapsing and when I realized how my actions, including the consumption of dairy products, among others, actually led to this pandemic. I learned the hard way that cruelty leads to more cruelty. When we eat meat, we are storing so much negativity inside our bodies, so much death. Change occurs one step at a time.

A Decaying World, by Yara Zalzal

Other worldly beings,
Souls of ancestors,
I call upon you,
To guide the way,
For me and my brothers
In this life of sorrows, woes and blessings,
All at once,
All those feelings at once,
Contradictory, yet complementary,
Take our hand, lanterns to guide,
Show us the way, the way to fly,
Take us to salvation,
To the dream nation,
Through aviation,
To faraway lands,
Virgin grounds, unscathed soil,
Pure un-breathed air,
Lungs to fill,
Ancestors, you lead the way,
Is bereavement the only option,
To escape this world one day?
Seeking the truth, always.
To stay or to leave?
I ask you again,
Is demise the only option,
To escape this cruel world?
Wars, killings and bloodshed,
Are all we ken
In this world today.
Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

With love comes great sacrifice, by Yara Zalzal

Beirut port explosion. Buildings were brought to ruins, streets were unrecognizable, and an entire city was withdrawn of its life. The entire nation was in mourning and fingers were pointed at politicians for having committed this heinous crime. Leila, a girl in her mid-twenties, was lucky to have had a narrow escape from the fate that so many were doomed to face: death.
The country became rotten. Many young people had no choice but to leave toward brighter horizons. They travelled in the worst of circumstances, to build a life for themselves, one they had long thought they could have in Lebanon. Shattered dreams did not drive everyone away. Leila was one of those who stayed. She made it a point to do so for numerous reasons, and her resilience served as an example for many people who admired her dedication to and perseverance in helping others.
Ego aside, heart full of love to give, she always put others’ needs before her own. Leila still lived with her parents, with Frollo and Diego, the cats and, Jelena, the dog. Both her parents were sick, as her dad was a stroke survivor and had difficulties functioning, and her mom had just undergone her last chemotherapy session, after a long battle with cancer. Her days started at dawn, where she would rush to the neighboring streets to feed the strays of her area. They loved her, and it was reciprocal. Work was the next item on the list of her daily routine. She would go to the office, work hard for more than ten hours a day, attend meetings, and then come back home to her parents and pets. She was their joy and they were hers.
The idea of starting a new life elsewhere, haunted her thoughts day and night. She turned down a letter of acceptance from the University of Cambridge, as well as a job at a French nonprofit. How could she leave all her loved ones behind? How would they survive without her? How would she forgive herself if she left? This is a story of love, and with love comes sacrifice.

Snoopy, the miraculous survivor, by Yara Zalzal

Snoopy, the miracle survivor

On August 4th 2020, a most dreaded day, the day of the Beirut Port explosion, my life turned upside down. As I was ready to grab my evening meal at the kitchen, prepared by my friend who happened to have rescued me a couple of years ago, followed by an evening session of belly rubs, the unimaginable happened. I heard some big giant unidentified flying objects which usually pay our neighborhood a visit every now and then. I usually am frightened by them, especially with the huge and annoying noise that they make. But I thought to myself that this was just a regular day in Mar Mikhail, as my friend likes to call it, except that it wasn’t. I could sense that the worst was yet to come and they always say that we (animals) have a sixth sense, and could tell when something bad is about to happen. Well, I was right. A couple of minutes later, before I could even reach the kitchen, I felt some vibrations, and then everything went boom boom boom! Then, there was nothing. All went black, then blank, then blurry… Then, I felt as if I was suffocating. I felt paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do and my friend was nowhere to be seen. I was hoping she would call my name (Snoopy) as she usually does, but nothing. This sensation of being paralyzed and unable to move lasted for so long. If minutes that went by could be counted as meals, then I would say I might have missed 100 meals.

The Mare with no Name, by Yara Zalzal

The mare with no name
They call me Miracle now, but a couple of weeks ago, I was still the mare with no name. Once upon a time, I had a friend and the man had brought us to this empty farm that we thought would be the real deal. Hay, bran and wheat galore, plenty of water, and space to run freely like there’s no tomorrow. We thought that was it. The life we had always dreamed of having. The days passed and every day, we were getting less and less food. What we thought would have been the perfect life, turned out to be all a sham. No food and a little water days on end. No place to stand in the shade during hot summer days and no warm place for the winter. Even the space we had, suddenly seemed much smaller than we thought it was at first. Even when we looked all around us, we had nothing to eat in the natural environment surrounding us. Hunger struck. All the abundance of feed we thought we were going to have suddenly felt like one hundred dreams away. I could see my friend’s bones. I could see him getting weak. His body seemed frailer than mine. The man who was supposed to take care of us used to go AWOL for days on end. Then, he would show up with some food that would barely last a day. My friend was disappearing day by day. His frail legs could barely carry on the weight of his body, until he couldn’t stand no more. Nights were the worst. My friend was attacked multiple times by wild animals and I had my share of bites too. One morning, I woke up to my friend hanging on to life, till there was no more life in him. The saddest day of my life; and they say that horses don’t mourn their loved ones. My body became feebler by the day. The man was nowhere to be found. I came to the conclusion that I was next. There was no use of me being alive. I was going to die.
But, it turns out that I was destined to stay alive.
One day, everything changed all of a sudden when some nice people came to the farm. They put me into a trailer and the man was there. He started screaming and didn’t want me to go away with them. I had a feeling in my guts that things were changing for the better. I felt like I had to go as far away from this place as possible. This man who not once even tried to interact with my friend and me, who not once patted our backs, cleaned our hooves or even greeted us with a smile will be a thing of the past.
As they drove me away in this big and comfortable box, it then hit me. I was finally going to have a life of which every horse dreams. My body hurt and my skin scratched, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before I got better. I was starving and could not wait till I had my first real meal as a horse. A while later, we reached what seemed to be a beautiful barn with plenty of other horses. I was relieved. They took me out of the trailer, greeted me like a queen, patted my back and front, kissed my cheeks and filled me with all the love in the world. I was so eager to finally eat. It all went well and they even treated me with some vitamins so accelerate my recovery. I always hear them say that I am getting better and they even bring in vet for a visit every now and then. One of the nice people whispered in my ear that that was it for me and that she would never allow anyone to mistreat me ever again. I knew I was finally safe. They call me Miracle now, because if my rescuers were a couple of days late to rescue me, I would have suffered from the same fate as my friend.
Miracle’s health state is improving by the day thanks to your donations and we hope to find her an adopter someday. She is so beautiful, smart and gentle, and putting on some weight by the day. She is getting better and regaining confidence, slowly but surely.

I am a Time Traveler, by Yara Zalzal

I'm a time traveler babe. I'm from the future. I was born on the 31st of December 3021 in a colony of humans established on the planet Mars. I saw your picture in an old album on one of the platforms people of your time called the Facebook. It was a picture of very bad quality, as opposed to the 4D pictures of my century. I couldn't hear you, touch you, nor interact with you due to the limited technology you had in the 21st century. However, I immediately knew I had to do something about it. I packed my virtual bags and embarked in the SPOI (that's what we call a time machine in my days) and went back in time, just to meet you. True story.
P.S: Don't freak out. I've already adapted to your century.