May 29, 2005


While flying out of Cairo, I recalled words from discussions that I had during my visit.

“el balad ma’bash lihha saheib” A judge. The closest translation is that things are getting loose.

“In a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration, 400 can be arrested out of thousands. In a liberals or leftists demonstration 400 can show up.” A demonstrator.

“No 90 octane gasoline!” A gas station attendant.

“If free elections were to take place, the Muslim Brotherhood will gain 30% of the parliament seats”. A political analyst.

“Diplomats represent Egypt not the Egyptian government.” A diplomat.

“The Egyptian political opposition is still in its infancy, yet it is moving. The stagnant water is starting to shake.” A political science professor.

“None of the parties have the environment on their agenda!” Director of an environmental rights advocacy NGO.

“The king of spade will now lose!” A friend during a cards game.

“Mrs. Aisha has been relocated to another office far away from where she lives because her boss did not like her.” A government employee in the Ministry of Social Affairs.

“You need to make reservations before you come!” Manager of a car repair shop.

“We have wireless internet in our café.” A waiter.

“Why do you want to vote? He is going to win anyway!” An employee in the voters’ registration office.

"I let her pass because she is a foreigner. You have to go the other way." A traffic soldier in Tahrir Square.
“She is homesick to a place that does not exist anymore!” A friend of mine commenting on the main character of Ahadaf Soueif’ Map of Love.

“They touched me all over!!” A female friend telling me about her experience in the May 25th, 2005 demonstrations.

"I 'm physically ok." Me when asked how am I doing on May 25 evening.
“The summer is starting early!” My mother.

I pause my reflections for a second to listen to the air hostess talking about her stay in Egypt to the passenger sitting next to me:
“We have been asked to remain in our hotel rooms for security reasons”
I think more deeply about my home visit. The only words that kept on oscillating in my mind were: humiliation, despair, sadness, and anger.

I returned to my apartment in Montreal. I felt safer in Durocher Street than in Hussein El Marsafi Street. This is when I felt that I am loosing home. I check my email and I find the words of the poet Kamel El Shinawi in a friend’s message:
“I do not complain.
Complaining is bowing,
And the pulse of my veins is pride”
انا لا أشكو، ففى الشكوى إنحناء
و أنا نبض عروقى كبرياء
This is when I felt that I have to fight to get it back.

Egypt, here is my pledge to you:
This is not the end, this is just the beginning.



Anonymous said...

ahem thats Ahdaf Soueif not abu seif.

Samer ATALLAH said...

Thank you for the correction