Which Egypt Will You Inherit?

Dear Seif,

Yesterday, August 15, was a day that makes me believe that William Golding’s view on humanity – woven in the classic novel “Lord of the Flies” – is absolutely correct. That humans, by nature, tip more towards being savage than civilized. I can’t really give you numbers of how many people died supporting/opposing Morsi/MB/police & army yesterday; the numbers vary depending on which media channel you watch and which friend you ask. For me, the numbers have piled up into one collective grave under one Egyptian flag.

Thankfully, we were not in Cairo when the pro-Morsi/MB sit-ins were dispersed; when the churches and government buildings were attacked or torched; when humans were dropping like the bullets that rained on them. Does it matter which side? They all bleed red. But not being in the midst of all this also weighs heavily on me. Because I feel guilty for being safe while my mom, dad, sister, nephews, relatives, and countless friends are either locked up behind curfew hours, or cross the street worrying about bullets and thugs.

The pictures and videos I am exposed to on facebook have seared my eyes and caused insomnia. It has also created a quick sand under my rock-hard belief that Egypt will never sink. Despite all the ups and downs since the Jan. 25 revolution, I always knew that Egypt would be okay. That the fate of our neighboring countries crumbling under civil war would never be our fate. Now I revise my thoughts and wonder if my feeling of assurance was plain arrogance, or naivete, or desperately holding on to that single straw that would break the camel’s back if I let go.

I’m worried about the Egypt you and Lara will inherit after our actions or inactions. Will you still be dodging bullets? Will random acts of violence become the norm? Will the memory of the safest country I have ever known become so faint, that it doesn’t seem real anymore? Will you grow to be ashamed of being Egyptian? That would sadden me beyond any words.

Already my memory is not what it used to be. On July 5th, the day after Morsi was ousted, we went for lunch at your favorite restaurant, Andrea. Andrea used to be bustling with tourists; it was sometimes hard to find a table. When a group of eight foreigners walked into the restaurant on that day, my heart sang. I realized that I hadn’t seen a group of tourists in Egypt for years. I found myself walking up to their table and asking one of the women, “Hi – are you tourists or do you live here?” When she said that some were tourists and two lived in Egypt, I told her, “You can’t imagine how happy it made my parents and I feel to see tourists in Egypt again. Thank you for visiting my country and I hope that you enjoy your stay.” I couldn’t say anything more as I was mentally commanding my welled-up tears to retreat lest I make a fool out of myself (or scare off the few tourists who dared to visit). The tourists were telling me how they enjoyed every bit of Egypt. I nodded my head and smiled and couldn’t say anything more than, “Welcome, again!” as I made my way back to my table. By then the tears drizzled out. My parents, alarmed, asked what was wrong… were the tourists being rude? No. I just missed this. It was a piece of nostalgia that drifted back on a light breeze. Simple, silly, but real.

I have such good memories of Egypt. Yeah, there was mass corruption, but there wasn’t such mass murder and mass uncertainty. Do I wish to rewind to the days before Jan. 25th, 2011? Yes. No. I don’t know. The answer is: all of the above. When you’re older, what would you be wishing for? Would reaching rock bottom all be worth it? Which Egypt will be your reality?


Your pensive mother, Rania

Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We, too, watch with great concern! Hoping for peace and prosperity!

    • My mind refuses to believe that this is Egypt. I’ll hang out with my friend nostalgia for a while so I can psychologically cope with reality down the line. I’ll start by going back in time to visit my most awesome 5th grade teacher 🙂

  2. The whole situation breaks my heart, Rania. So sad for you and your family, other friends there, and the country that holds so many special memories. (Mo and Rula took me to Andreas the first night that I met them.)

    • I hope that the day is near when we can do a mini-reunion at Andrea in a safer Egypt. This is one of the moments when I try to hang on to “this too shall pass” and pray that until it does, the casualties dwindle to zero.

  3. Rania, terrible time for Egypt ! The news and FB showing very graphic pictures which must break the hardest heart. Thinking of all my friends in Egypt and praying for peace.

    • Very true. It’s very hard to avoid the war of pictures invading my eyes and home. I had a breakdown yesterday; it was too much for my system.

      Thank you for your much-needed prayers!

  4. That pretty well says it all Rania. I too love Egypt, I owe it my own life. In October 1962 I had a ruptured appendix while onboard a ship in the Suez Canal. Hospitalised at Ismalia they carved me open and removed the offending organ. I had peritonitis and was very lucky to survive. I was told then I would always be part of Egypt. They were right. In 1984 I was posted to Cairo for four and a half wonderful years. In my heart, even though I am an Englishman, I am ana nous Masri… It saddens me to see such gratuitous violence from one Egyptian to another. I can only hope that at the end of this horrific journey peace will be returned. Please God..

    • Hello, nos Masri 🙂 Your message gave me goosebumps. I would love to hear more about your adventures & misadventures in Egypt. Since I can’t face following the current news anymore, my mind is revisiting the old, familiar Egypt that I love.

      • Rania, As you asked, I thought you might like to read the following:

        In a career spanning more than 30 years my photographic archive holds a vast collection of images from almost every corner of the world. My experience in the diplomatic, commercial and academic worlds have given me unique access to photographic opportunities denied to many.
        I have taught photography in Ethiopia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Egypt and in the UK.
        As a photographer I have a wealth of experience working with museums and international universities on everything from Third Century BC artifacts in Egypt and Neolithic Man in Somalia to reclaiming photographic prints from WWII in Australia.
        During our four and a half years in Egypt I was engaged as resident photographer for the Egypt Exploration Society, thanks in no small part to the late Dr. Ahmed Khardri, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.
        For more information and examples of my work visit: http://www.silverimages.co.uk

        A close second to our much loved Egypt would have to be Somalia, another country in turmoil. But in the early 1980’s it was a wonderful country to bring up our family.

        God willing, one day, peace will return to the Middle East.

  5. Dave,

    What a culturally rich life you lead. I checked out the pictures you showcased and loved them all. Thank you for sharing your slice of life with me; I enjoyed it very much!

    • You are very welcome. I have indeed been very fortunate and blessed not just by the places I have been but by so many wonderful people I have known and met on that journey. As Ibn Battuta called it, my ‘Rihla’.

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