Hayat means life, and indeed, the daughter of Aminobaal and the younger sister of Umnis the Zakir, has an indomitable spirit. Beneath a quiet and unassuming demeanor, lies a will as strong as the high peaks of her native land, and as patient as the depth of the Great Sea.
Born in the northern town of Tanooreen, Fineekia–some forty miles away from Byblos–Hayat grew up on a large farm where her parents cultivated wheat, barley, and an assortment of vegetables. They also owned a large grove of fruit trees, mostly apple and cherry.
Ever since she was a child, Hayat favored spring. She would wait eagerly for the trees to blossom and the sky to turn a dreamy blue; then she would sit in the midst of the cherry trees, quietly listening to the chirping of the birds and the gentle whisper of the wind.
Hayat had just turned twelve when her mother died suddenly. The loss of her mother affected her profoundly, and she would no longer walk in the midst of the cherry trees, preferring the quiet of the caves dotting the canyon walls just outside her village. She would rise at the break of day, complete all her chores before noon, then disappear for the rest of the afternoon, returning just in time to prepare super and care for her father.
When she turned twenty, she told her father she wanted to join the Temple of Baal and become a priestess. Although saddened to lose her, Aminobaal took her to Baalbek where she began her training. Six years later, he was surprised and overjoyed when Jabbar paid him a visit, asking for her hand in marriage. Apparently, Hayat had abandoned her plans for the priesthood and became the first servant to the high priestess.
Hayat moved into her husband's house in Baher-Ghafé, and she loved to stroll on the beach when the sea was calm and inviting. After the birth of Hoda, their eldest, Hayat began to long once more for the cherry trees of Tanooreen. Unwilling to trouble her husband, she kept this longing a secret from him.
Her second pregnancy was very painful. Fearing for the life of the child, they visited the Temple of Baalbek where Bahiya, who was first priestess at the time, told them the mother and child were in grave danger. "Owing to your services," she added, "I advise you to remain here at the Temple. I will see to it that your child is safely delivered." Relieved, the couple accepted the offer, and Hayat came home with her baby son, Ahiram. Then, when he turned four, Jabbar gave her a wonderful gift: "Shark fishing is in high demand, and we have prospered. Your brother, Umnis, has agreed to sell us your parent's farm, if you so desire. We could go up to Tanooreen at the Festival of Light, and you could stay with the children there for a few weeks."
Hayat smiled and kissed him. That night, a night she would never forget, she imagined herself sitting under the cherry trees with Hoda in her arms and she, who usually never cried, shed silent tears of gratitude.
At last, she knew, she was home again.