They Were Here, All of Them
The smell was familiar; it was one I had known before, a place I had homed before, framed before but very different to a Déjà vu. It was the scent of grilled sweet potatoes, in the very same spot I had left it standing exactly one year back from today. This time, however, it was bitter sweet.
It was hard to picture the weather would be on our side today; we thought Alexandria will be dark, gloomy and rainy as it has been for the past week. (Not that I blame it, what reason out there could get it smiling to the world?) And so when I woke up to a sunny, warm day, I felt their presence, I felt their visit. I sensed the world felt blessed to have their souls back to where the Egyptian people’s vibes had revived them. Angels were flying amid the air of freedom and it was difficult to look up to the sky; it was shimmering, partially radiant by the sun, but mainly because they were there, today, watching above us.
On my way to the start point of main marches (Qaed Ibrahim), I came across an unusual view in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea: 3 huge military ships, which are usually there all the time, today were decorated in red/white balloons, the Egyptian flag and many other red coloured strips. It occurred to me that the Military had either chosen to show what they call “democracy” to the people, or celebrate what got them to where they rule now; celebrate what they think is the eternal power. Either one, it was a farce. They don’t deserve to show their support anymore. The Egyptian people learnt it the hard way: It’s just the people and the people that are hand in hand, not the Army, not the Police and not anyone else, but the people. Rocks were their snipers, their voice was their knife and their number was their tanks.
Getting into Qaed Ibrahim premises, I was welcomed by a group of men who were guarding the entrance and so I had to pass by them first to get in (I could have left you to guess who organized it all but I feel like spoiling the surprise anyway. They were FJP youth). Basically, they were ensuring no “real” thug could get in, and then have the protesters being blamed for thuggery, and then Moushier would have his win to not lifting the emergency law and then bright, young youth would spend another night, shivering to frost bites on cold prison floors. Reality is tough, and a scenario was there to keep you awake to the reality even more.
At Qaed Ibrahim Mosque
The smell was familiar; it was one I had known before, a place I had homed before, framed before but very different to a Déjà vu. It was the scent of grilled sweet potatoes, in the very same spot I had left it standing exactly one year back from today. In that very moment their presence suddenly disappeared, they were no longer there. Was my brain back to sanity and was their presence an illusion I yearned to believe? I roamed around the Mosque and all I could notice were a bunch of very well organized booths, with preppy youth dressed in fluorescent yellow jackets, labeled FJP. There was a long tent, which exhibited photos from 25-January 2012. There were balloons, smiles, chats, gossips, THERE WAS A CELEBRATION. The festive atmosphere blocked the scent of sweet potatoes, and I no longer linked that smell to what had passed through my nostrils up to my memory centre as “25-January 2011”. It was bitter sweet.
Charging out of Qaed Ibrahim
And so I left the bitter sweet smell of grilled sweet potatoes, the glittery festive smiles of the people and the preppy well organized booths of Martyrs pictures and headed where I belonged, where the martyrs would’ve been; The Streets. Strangely it wasn’t a trick in the mind; they were back. This time I felt all of them, from Khaled Saeed to Alaa Abdel Hady, I felt each and every one of them, amid the bustle of the angry protesters. I heard the chants of protesters pointing to those inside Qaed Ibrahim permises: “We are not here to celebrate; we are here to bring justice to our martyrs.” And I joined right away. In that same instance I witnessed one man whom was part of the human gate entrance to Qaed complaining that those inside also want to bring justice to martyrs. But to my utter surprise I found a middle-aged, religious man snapping back at his statement in mere antagonism: “NO, you do NOT want that, you want to CELEBRATE because you got all you wished for, you got your seats in the parliament and that’s all that matters to you, and guess what? I was one of you, but I had enough, I couldn’t put up with you and your lies.” I wanted to clap, hug him, tell him you have made the revolution proud. You chose not to run off with your chair hand in hand with the bribing SCAF, you chose your country, your people and your martyrs. I wanted to tell him they’re here, they know you didn’t turn your back to them, like many have; but something deep inside got me believing he felt their presence just as much as I did.
As we roamed from Qaed Ibrahim to Manteqa El Shemaleya, chants ranged from anti-SCAF to chants about our beloved martyrs. I had no idea how many we were, all I could see was a horizon of people infront of me and as I turned my back I could see another horizon of people were behind. We made it; we made it a million man march. But the essence was not in the number, the essence was in the souls of those who marched above us. The beauty was in the heart of Mina Daneil that imprinted each and every heart that pound the streets beside me. The grace was in the strength of Khaled Saeed that killed the fear in each and every one of us. The blessing was in the kindness of the juvenile Alaa Abdel Hady, and the future we will fulfill on his behalf. We were empowered by them all.
Reaching Manteqa El Shemaleyah
Looking at the number that gathered, my heart suddenly skipped a beat, I couldn’t take my breath. I looked up hoping the beauties of the sky could find the words that I couldn’t find inside of myself.
I found myself speaking to the sky: I wish I was with you, I wish I was a martyr too. I wish I had a million people calling my name, fighting back my right. I envy you; I wish I was with you.