What is tragedy?

Jess Semaan
2 min readDec 4, 2020

Today, four months since the explosion in Lebanon, I ask you what is tragedy.

Is tragedy waking up to find your city demolished to the ground, with hundreds of dead, many missing, some friends, some neighbors, some family?

The city you have cried in, danced in, kissed in, loved in, birthed in, and longed for every time you were away?

Is tragedy watching that city carnaged in viral videos ten thousand miles away, on a tiny screen in your hand?

Is it a tragedy, to see the house where you grew up in destroyed, and feel nothing?

Is it still tragedy when the tragedy happens in the midst of global tragedy?

Is it tragedy, when your caretakers are your butchers, and a part of you continues to deny the abuse?

Or is it tragedy, when no one around you can understand, or comprehend and all you get it is a shy are you okay typed reluctantly in text messages?

Is it not a tragedy, when you lose your money, your home, any sense of safety, over, and over and you must wake up, do a zoom call, fill out spreadsheets, pay your rent, and pretend there never was a tragedy?

Tragedy is my body’s old lover, who keeps coming back. Less seductive, less playful, every time. Just when my body finds a rest, she shows up with no remorse to his door.

You can always count on tragedy to change you. You can always count on tragedy to break you.

And to shape you. To insert herself into a chapter she chooses, she even becomes the chapter. Becomes the story, takes over the title. Choose you at times as the protagonist and others as the antagonist, and others as the bystander. And sometimes all of the above.

Tragedy makes you wonder if there ever was God. And if there is a God, what the hell are they on, tragedy makes you wonder?

I want to write about the pandemic, but I did not have the luxury of lamenting about mask wearing and social distancing. My greatest tragedy will always be to have loved and lost my home, both gradually and violently, both expectedly and unexpectedly. Both in fantasy and in reality.

Even the greeks weeped for our tragedy.

Donate to support the reconstruction of Lebanon https://www.beitelbaraka.org/.