I wrote this story for The Atlantic
by Justin Salhani
Hassan is only 30 years old, though like most people who have lived
through war, he looks much older. Sitting next to his father, a few
neighbors, and the
landlord of the room he rents at a former school Lebanon, he beams
as he describes the elation he felt upon reuniting with his family last
month after he
fled his home in Nahriyeh, near Qusair, Syria, and the gratitude he
has for his landlord's unremitting hospitality.
As Hassan's story comes to a close, he politely excuses himself to
check on the children playing outside. Once outside, the diminutive man
slyly looks over
his right shoulder before lighting a cigarette.
"My dad doesn't know I smoke," he says in between drags. But Hassan
didn't leave the room simply to get out of his father's line of sight.
He left to
escape the earshot of another guest.