Tanks to Teddy Bears

Dearest Seif,

Rejoice… I’m going to be writing shorter diary entries from now on since the news of the Revolution has been fizzling down day by day… Instead, I’m going to be posting some short anecdotes as they arise.

From Tanks to Teddy Bears – February 14th, 2011

On our way to Tivoli Dome to visit a friend of ours for dinner, your dad and I passed the occasional tank placed in strategic areas along the road.  People were still stopping (almost in the middle of the road) to take pictures on top of the tank.  I guess it’s never going to get old…

As soon as we reached Tivoli Dome (it’s an area that has many food chains, in case it doesn’t exist anymore when you are older), we joined a long line of mostly teenage boys and girls waiting to get inside the gate.  Something seemed a bit weird.  I couldn’t put a finger on it for a while.  Was it because your dad and I were out-of-place age-wise? Or was it that all those in line seemed like they were couples? As soon as more teenagers joined the line holding flowers, carrying teddy bears, and hanging on to heart-shaped helium balloons, it dawned on me that it was Valentine’s Day.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said to your dad and held his hand; a compensation for having forgotten.  “Oh, yeah…” he said.  And that was our exciting celebration.

Flowers, balloons, and teddy bears.  It made me start to doubt that only a few days before, we were in the middle of a full-throttle revolution, with people dying, buildings burning, criminals on the streets looting, tear gas, bullets… I marvel at how quickly some people manage to bounce back to “life as usual”.

We had a great dinner, despite the poor service.  The waiter kept hovering at our table, pulling anything that looked almost finished off of the table.  He then came again and asked if we wanted anything else (with a look that meant, “Please don’t ask for anything else…”) then explained that he would be taking last orders.  We didn’t order anything else, to the waiter’s disguised relief. But you know your mom… I eat very, very slowly.  I think it was quite painful for the waiter to watch, actually.

It was strange to be shooed away in such a manner when Cairo is known to be the city that never sleeps.  The reason for all the waiters getting antsy was the 12:00 midnight curfew still imposed.  The waiters wanted to ensure a mode of transportation to get back to their homes.  I wonder when it will be lifted…

Undercover Police Gear – February 17th, 2011

“Ran Ran, will you come back?” read the sms I received from your dad while I was visiting a friend nearby.  I was surprised that he sent the message as I left the house only an hour ago – not considered a long time to be out.  I wrote back, “I’ll think about it…” and added a wink, just in case he thought I was serious.  He wrote back, “Tab, good night.”  Good night? It was only 8:40 p.m.

I excused myself and said a quick good bye to my friend and headed back home.  I walked into the house that was pretty quiet for some reason.  I scanned the rooms, looking for your dad.  The bedroom was the only room left.  Sure enough, he was inside the bed with the covers on top of him; I could only see his fingertips holding the blanket over his head.  “Asleep already? Yeah, whatever!” I said, as I pulled the blanket swiftly off of him.

I was not prepared for what I saw… Your dad sat up straight in the bed, with a gas mask covering his face.  He looked like a huge mosquito or an experiment gone wrong.  Typically at such a sight, I would have screamed like a deranged monkey, and jumped a few feet off of the ground.  I don’t know what came over me, but all I did was take a few steps back and say in a calm, but confused voice, “Eh dah?” [“What’s this?”] It was a very anti-climactic reaction for all of you.  Sorry… next time…

Your dad managed to buy a used police gas mask and baton from a porter; both for a total of L.E. 50  The porter had lots to sell, from tear gas canisters and police helmets, to large and small batons.  How the porter managed to obtain these items, I don’t know.  Either the police dropped them and fled when they were vastly outnumbered, or their police stations were raided.

In any case, I was very pleased with the items he brought back.  A piece of history.  So if you see a gas mask and baton somewhere around the house many years later, please know that they are not Halloween costumes, but very valuable items and have a lot of history behind them!

The Friday at Tahrir I Won’t Write About – February 18th, 2011

So, your dad comes to me and says he’s going to Tahrir.

“Again?!?” I said.  This must be some addiction or something.  He explained that people were gathering in Tahrir to ask for the release of protesters who were still imprisoned.  He also explained that this time, it was safe.  “I’m sorry, but I saw camels and horses push through a peaceful protest with all sorts of weapons a few days ago.  Anything can happen in this country!”  Your dad gave me a cheeky smile and said, “I’ll give you more material to write about in your letters to Seif…” I told him that I would much rather have my husband with me.

So, I have decided not to write about your dad’s experience in Tahrir on that day.  Childish, I know… but even your mom is not perfect.

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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