The Day your Dad Joined the Protest on “The Day of Wrath”

Dearest Seif,

Being 7 years old right now, you are witnessing a piece of history that you may forget about when you are older.  I am writing to you today about what you and I have seen and been through on January 28, 2011; the day your dad decided to join “The Day of Wrath” protest.

Your dad and I had a “moment of wrath” when he came to me after Friday prayer, sat beside me on the couch, and told me in his ever-so-calm manner, “Rania, I’m going to the protest.” I flew off the handle. I told him that a day named “Day of Wrath” meant it was certainly not going to be peaceful; that his primary duty was to protect his wife and children; that some people go to a protest and end up in the morgue; that he can support the protest in any other way; that thousands of people were going to be there, and the demonstration didn’t depend on him… I said all sorts of things – anything to keep him from going. He told me that he was going to do his duty as a father, and that meant speaking up to provide a better country for his children to live in.  I shouted at him as he closed the door, “It is clear that your priority is not your family!”

He left.  You called to me from my room and said, “Mama… baba left a note on your bed.” It was a piece of paper that contained cash, an ATM card, and your dad’s bank account number and password written down neatly.  I felt extreme sadness, anger, anxiety.  I was paralyzed for a moment, before deciding to pray.  You joined me too, and when we finished, I told you to make a wish to God.  With our foreheads pressed to the ground, I heard soft footsteps behind me and turned around to find your dad kneeling down beside me.  “I didn’t want to leave without telling you that I love you,” he said with tears welling up in his eyes.  I gave him the biggest hug my arms could muster and in the middle of my sobbing, he told me calmly about all sorts of technological things such as how to track down his phone by GPS so that I could know where he was when the phone lines were activated again.

And so, he left again.  I was left in the hands of Al Jazeera live news coverage, and my imagination.  At first, I saw the water canons being sprayed on the protesters on top of 6th of October Bridge.  The water canons were followed by tear gas.  The tear gas was followed by rubber bullets.  The rubber bullets were followed by firebombs. Five  people had lost their lives, the news reported.  I was crying so hard, I had to sit a few inches away from the television to be able to see through my tears.  When bloody images came up, I would scream to you, “Seif, go draw me something! Draw me anything – a dinosaur – ANYTHING!” I didn’t want to appear hysterical, but I was, and you knew it.  You sat beside me, patted my hair and said, “Mama, it’s okay.  Salamtek ya mama… Salamtek ya mama…” It was you that was comforting me.  Lara was marching up and down the TV room chanting, “Baaatel! Baaatel!” and I thought to myself, “I hope that one day, I can look back at this moment and laugh.”

I saw someone who looked like your dad, even dressed in the same clothes as your dad, stretched out lifeless inside a car.  I felt myself becoming light-headed and my speech became a little slurred. I wanted to call your dad to make sure he was safe, but the phone lines were purposefully cut.  I sat even closer to the TV, waiting for the clip to come again to verify if it was your dad or not.  All other clips came except for that one.  My hysterical sobbing made you lose your cool, as you kept asking me, “Mama, are you worried about baba? Is baba going to be okay?”

Hours later, 9:15 p.m. to be precise, the door bell rang.  You and I ran towards the door; I opened it, and as soon as I saw your father, I flung my arms around him and cried like I never cried in my life before.

To get to us, your dad walked many, many kilometers on foot.  He walked so much, the soles of his feet were covered in blisters.  He managed towards the end of his walk to hitch a ride in several different taxis and the drivers refused to charge any fare.  Your father had been in the midst of all the tear gas, rubber bullets, and firebombs we had seen on TV.

The next day, despite being exhausted, your dad unscrewed the metal rods of his camera  tripod and went to the street at night to protect us while we slept.  Gun shots were being fired all over the place, but thankfully, you were fast asleep.

What I want to conclude is: although I disagreed with your dad about going to the protest, I know that he did it for you, he did it for Lara, and he did it for the future of his country.  Dad made it back from the protest, but others did not. Most of them were youth, Seif.  Remember this Revolution, remember the people who fought and died trying to achieve a better life, and remember that your dad was a part of it, despite your mother’s famous wrath!

Be proud and dream big!

Love you,

Your hysterical mother, Rania

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Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm  Comments (27)  
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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks Rania for writing and sharing.. Keep these posts coming..

    • Hey Neal! Your wish is my command; one more post coming up… 😀

  2. Dear Rania,

    This is by far the most impressive piece I’ve read since the revolution had started. I participated in the day of wrath… and it was the first time for me to wish to have children and to tell them the story of this day and the days that followed.

    Keep supporting your brave and loving husband.. and dont ever prevent Seif from practicing his belief of justice, freedom and dignity.

    All the love Rania to you and your family,

    Nesma

    • I admire your courage in going to a protest with such an ominous name… Your future children, insha’allah, will get to read about the day their mother participated in changing history. The streets are celebrating such acts of bravery.

      Total Respect,
      Rania

  3. I felt for you and your family deeply while reading your letter with a tears of emphaty and respect in my eyes . I wish you and your family the brightest future…

    Ozgur Ozer ( Turkish, mother of two )

    • I’m so touched by your message. It seems like your wish for a bright future has been heard… The streets of Cairo are now filled with men, women, and children celebrating a new beginning. Such an exciting and uplifting time.

      Tashakurat (I hope that’s how you pronounce “thank you” in Turkish…),
      Rania, another mother of two 🙂

  4. Dear rania,
    I was exactly the same as you. Hysterical on the day of wrath. Glued to the tv…you described exactly what happened in my house!
    I have to thank your husband and the many men and women who did this for us!
    Sarah

    • Oh, Sarah… We’ll probably develop several white hairs from that emotionally charged day! But it makes today all the more joyful. I will read your post to my husband; I’m sure it will make him very happy.

      Thank you.

  5. Rania (I won’t mention your nick name in a public forum),

    But seriously, eih dah, what a touching, powerful, emotionally-moving, and uplifting letter!!!! May God bless your family and the entire woman kind, man kind, and humanity. Thanks for sharing this letter 🙂

    nizar d.

    • Nizo! (sorry, I’m not as discrete…)

      I’m glad you got to read the post. I always thought that during times of crises, I’d be cool, calm, and collected. Well, now you know, and I know, that that thought is out the window… (hey – that rhymes!)

  6. My friend Camelia shared this on her Facebook page – thanks to both of you for putting a very personal spin on this. I was in tears right there with you! My thoughts and prayers have been with Camelia and her family in Cairo since the beginning, and they are now with you, your family, and your entire country. Stay strong and keep us updated.

    • Thank you, Traci! Thankfully the story has a happy ending… or is it a happy beginning? The future is exciting; people are full of positive energy and are continually thinking of proactive ways to make Egypt more beautiful and stable. I just hope that things continue to stay (as much as possible) this way.

  7. […] here to read about changes in Egypt from […]

  8. Rania : As a member of the Zaki Family, and as an Egyptian, you make me very proud.
    May Allah bless you, Waleed, and Seif.
    Much love,
    Mado

    • Thank you!!! We miss you so much…

  9. Thanks for sharing Rania! I am so proud and thankful to Waleed and all those who were there, so determined and so courageous! Great for Seif to learn not to be passive like how we’ve been for decades! This is not only changing a president and a constitution but even culture and the whole mind set.. I so missed out on being part of it apart from being glued to the tv for 18 days. It’s a relief that he came back safe.. Love to all. Shereen

    • Hi Shereen!

      Although you were not physically in Egypt during the 18 days, you sent positive thoughts and prayers to the people who were. Now that counts for something!

      Thank you, dear.

  10. Dear Rania,

    Although I have known you for more than 30, I never knew the real you. You really made me in tears. You area such a wonderful person and may god bless you and your family. You should also be proud of have a husband such as Waleed, who’m I have not seen except once I think. You take care of yourself my dear.
    Mariam Jaouni

    • Thank you, dearest Maryoum. I am very proud to have Waleed as my husband, even though he puts me on an emotional roller-coaster every time he attends the protests! :S Lots of hugs & kisses to your beautiful family.

  11. We’re all so very proud of you and other brave people have accomplished. Always keep looking forward.

  12. Sorry Rania
    Forgot to introduce myself. I’m Jennifer’s father. We’ve been glued to the TV too.
    Kindest regards
    Jim

    • I am so grateful to facebook for two reasons: for getting the ball rolling in terms of the Egyptian revolution, and for reconnecting with the sweetest school friend I ever had. I absolutely love your daughter – the whole family, in fact! 🙂

      The students in the school where I teach have so much energy that they want to invest in their country… it’s so refreshing to see! They have changed in a few weeks from being as un-nationalistic as possible to pro-active energizer bunnies! I can’t wait to see the changes they will make with their own young hands. It’s an exciting time!

      Please give my warmest regards to the whole beloved Lewis family. Try to swing by Egypt for old time’s sake… Our tent is your tent 🙂

  13. Krebs, I read this when you first published it and again just now. The first time I was too frazzled and too involved in the events you describe to be able to appreciate the actual writing; I was just intensely grateful that you were pouring your worry out on paper and leaving a trace of the Day of Wrath in Seif’s personal space.
    Rereading it today is a totally different story, one that says: Rania should never stop writing, whatever it is she is experiencing. You make emotions accessible by translating them into actions — the ultimate sign of a great novelist.

    Coco gone more bananas.

    • I will cherish your comment. You simply inspire me, Injy! You are kreb-tastic! 😀

  14. Rania, by the end of this post I had tears rolling down my face. I also felt guilty in some respects because I was encouraging Ramo to go and protest, to go and fight for his country and not be a coward who just talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. To go and fight for his children’s future.
    The moment he had gone though, I too was glued to Al Jazeera, then BBC World Service, then back to Al Jazeera. Neither of us were as prepared as W though with his bank details etc… how very sensible of him, how very cool, calm and collected. May God bless him.
    Our husbands have been courageous, they have inspired us, they have become great leaders, great examples to our sons. They walked the talk. I am so proud of them both.

    • They surely did walk the walk,Dawn. This revolution has taught me a lot about myself, my husband, and about Egyptians in general. Seems like we have a lot of walking to do yet… God bless everyone who is standing up for a better future!

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