Surviving after the crash in Grenfell, she says there are times when she forgets what happened and turns out to be “going to the tower”.
“And I think, my God, where are you going? You don’t live there anymore, ”Hanan Wahhabi said.
On Tuesday, five years ago, the structure was engulfed in flames, killing 72 people, including 18 children, in the largest residential fire in Britain since World War II.
Hanan misses “everything” about his former home.
“It was, as some say, a vertical village,” she explains. “Now it just feels very lonely. Time doesn’t heal.”
Hanan lived on the ninth floor of a West London landmark for 15 years, raising two children there – Zack, now 21, and 13-year-old Sarah.
They survived the fire, but Hanan’s brother and his family did not.
Abdulaziz, a hospital porter, and his wife Fauzia lived on the 21st floor of Apartment 182 with their three children: 20-year-old Yasin, 15-year-old Nur Khudai and eight-year-old Mehdi.
“They were such a loving family,” Hanan says. “There was a lot of laughter in that farm, a lot of dry humor.”
While the fire destroyed most of the family photos, Hanan was left with a few items from her apartment and from her brother.
Part of her daughter-in-law’s Moroccan pottery has been rescued from the ashes and now lives in Hanan’s kitchen, carefully wrapped in cling film.
She appreciates them, but nothing compares to the chain that belonged to her brother.
“He was in it the night he died,” Hanan says, opening a black jewelry box in which she keeps it. She keeps it next to her in her bedroom to keep it close.
“It’s so special that there is. You can see where it burned a little in the fire.”
Immediately after the crash, Hanan and her family stayed at a nearby Premier Inn hotel, where they stayed in the same room for 18 months.
It had a “significant impact,” she says.
“PTSD started fast. I just remember that you, as a parent, want to protect your children from seeing your difficulties and problems.
“There was no protection for them. I just remember collapsing all the time. I got to the point where I locked myself in the bathroom so the kids couldn’t see, but they could still hear. ”
Hanan was moved to the area but not close enough to see the tower.
“I’m happy to have a roof over my head, but Grenfell was my home,” she says. “I still consider it my home.”
Last year, Hanan had to leave her teaching job nearly 20 years after her panic and anxiety attacks became too strong.
“I’m not the person I was before Grenfell. In September 2017, although not everyone was found at the time, I went back to work – not because I could do my job properly, but it was the only place where it was same for me.This is my safe place.
“But sometimes I fought with difficulty – when, for example, I heard a fire alarm, I fell in front of the children.”
Although the ongoing public investigation revealed a number of mistakes, failures and corporate complacency, no one has been charged with a crime.
Hanan says her injury was exacerbated by shocking testimony at the hearing – and the fact that no one was brought to justice.
“It’s unknown. Our whole lives have been blown up, and we have seen almost no change, ”she says.
“We can smile, we can laugh, we can joke, but the only way to do that is to plaster every hole.
“We have big wounds. We cover them, but we can only do it for a short time, and then when those doors are closed, (if) you don’t see us, we’re broken.”