With Every Footstep
Egypt, a cringe-worthy word, for everyone who chooses to view it through the secret-eye of its door. No longer has corruption chosen to hide, dismiss itself from public view for we have reached a point in which we have no idea what to believe anymore. -A butterfly may gracefully hover across your sun kissed face, yet only yesterday it was entrapped in its cocoon awaiting all the evil, cynicism of a caterpillar to wash away. Main stream Media have become hypnotizing rather than assuring; they have made you acknowledge what you have already acknowledged but with a different angle, a different perspective, emphasizing that they, and only they, are the Gods of the every-day-events. We stopped looking, stopped noticing the sparks of light in ever corner of this surprising country. We’d watch the sunset, or we wouldn’t. We’d be fully asleep, restless by sunrise ignoring the miracle of the next morning. We stopped looking at our every footstep.
Hence, I’ve chosen to speak differently today; I’ve chosen to speak about the optimism of this country. A word rather extinct, but not fully mortal. I chose to speak of our rises, rather than our falls; our unity, rather than our sects.
This is a short story; a story the world did not succeed to blind me from noticing:
Ahmed and Amina
When I was young, just before my long trip to the UK, my parents had someone who’d take care of me while they were away for work (You can call her a maid, a sitter, what ever you feel like calling her, but please don’t utter the word “Khaadama”). I loved her merely, and she was very kind to me as a child. But my parents didn’t like her much, they thought she’d ask for too much in return for her simple job. When I went to the UK, she went to work at my grandparents and when I came back she was still there, happy as ever.
I never really understood why she’d work all those hours of sweat-shed and bore when she was married to a porter, a working man, and they had a beautiful baby boy named Ahmed, who was loved by his mother dearly.
Later on, when I grew up, when I got used to Egypt after having to stay away from it in a very different culture, I understood everything. She never really loved her job, nor working, it was an obligation. Her husband was a man with no responsibility but changing the water of his “shisha” which he’d sit smoking day and night, with her money. He had no job, because he didn’t “feel” the need of working, his wife had sponsored where they lived, their meals and most importantly their children (they also got a 2nd child, but this time a girl called Amina).
Not far from today, she started to get tired very quickly, she seemed ill and sick. She visited many doctors and they told her she had problems in her liver, and it wasn’t a very friendly case. I’m not quite sure if she ignored the matter, or her husband forced her to ignore it for “she had a work to get back to”, to pay his rent and his food. Not so long after her constant visits to different doctors hoping one would tell her she won’t need an invasive operation just some medication, she passed away. A quiet death though; not a painful one.
I wasn’t really sure what would happen to their children, she was literally keeping them alive. I thought, would they run away from their brutal father? Would I meet them in a couple of years at a traffic stop begging for money? Will they indulge with street kids, run bare foot on wet soil, and sleep in sewers? Or would they be a forgotten case of child-abuse in a country where the simple rights of a human being does not exist?
The world, the media, life, friends, and family detached me from my constant questioning of these 2 poor children, and where on this globe they might be; whether dead or alive.
2 years passed and I never really got to see them, not even once. Frankly, I began to stop thinking about them and eventually they became a memory my brain didn’t fail to fully vaporize. But the little, hazy memories of those 2 children got me seeing them amid the groups of street kids all around the country. But when I’d call “Ahmed…. Amina!” no child would respond, or some who would look nothing like them would come running to me, hoping I’d give them any change I have left in my heartless, patched pockets.
Only 2 days ago I was rather mesmerized with the violet blossom tree on my campus -Finally spring. I was driving home after a long day at University; but this time my eyes would notice the sparkled, exquisite shore of Alexandria I used to ignore everyday, the play & joy of families crossing the road to reach the crystal clear Mediterranean sea. I opened up my eyes wide enough to start seeing and not just looking.
As I was passing by a public school, at around 11 am, I saw 2 beautiful children walking, hand in hand, to the school gates; a boy and a girl, Ahmed & Amina. (“It’s just another illusion!” that annoying thing in my head kept saying on and on) -But how could my eyes trick me, when they’re opened so wide? I didn’t want to start imagining stuff -I thought existed. If my brain was full of illusions, then I’m no different than a cancer patient with a very large, inseparable brain tumor.
The boy then hugged his sister goodbye, kissed her cheek and gave her a couple of pennies and a sandwich for her school day. He was very tender with her, he was her guardian and she felt protection in his eyes. She left his hand, with a smile on her face, feeling lucky she has such a knight-brother who was there for her no matter what. As I approached closer to the 2 children, I came to realize I was not imagining nor was it an illusion, those 2 inseparable children were Ahmed & Amina. Despite how big they’ve grown from last time I had seen them, their refined features remained unaltered.
I couldn’t call their names out, I was like a mute who had just lost his voice after witnessing something, literally, speechless. All I could do was smile, and watch their every footstep as joyful kids, in love with the life they’re spending together.
I didn’t question how they got to where they are right now, I didn’t question whether they still live with their father or someone might have fell in love with their juvenile laughs and adopted them and cared for their education, and well-being. I didn’t question anything; I only found peace for once in my life, I found peace in the hearts of Ahmed and Amina.