What I’ve learnt from strangers:
I was sitting on a couch in the middle of a huge mall, my friends come up to me, and we talk a little. Usually us socio-upper-class Egyptians, have a manner of talking both in English and Arabic simultaneously. My friends leave and I see this man, staring at me, imprisoning the words in his mouth waiting for the exact right moment to burst a conversation. He looked Arab, I could tell by his wrinkles. You never see as much engraved wrinkles except on an Arab face. Us, Arabs, endure a lot, and we fail to hide it; the carved aching wrinkles say it all. It didn’t have to take him to speak in that strong, rich, resonant voice of his for me to notice his ethnicity, everything in his face pointed it out -crystal clear-.
You will notice the English structured sentences of his were not so fluent, and I deliberately write them in the same way they were uttered from his mouth.
HIM: Where you from?
HIM: I could tell you are ‘Arab
ME: How come?
HIM: The way you talk to your friends, I heard the Arabic pronunciation. Very distinct, only in Arabic.
HIM: You say you come from Egypt?
HIM: So how is everything now? okay?
(This was in july 2011)
ME: Not its best, our economy is deteriorating by the second, it goes down as we speak. Islamists are opportunists in disguise and no-one truly believes Mubarak is facing justice. Martyrs’ families are devastated, all they want right now is the integrity of their children.
HIM: Typical Islamists, beware of them.
ME: Where are you from?
ME: That explains. But I don’t think they’ll be of any harm. I’m sure they’re just using them as a taboo to get us all scared of Islamists to give us more reasons to keep gripping hold on to the old regime.
HIM: You are naive my son. I dont blame you, I was once like you. Iran was the most beautiful country in my eye. All the beautiful scenery and people. It was like the diamond, while every other country was ordinary gem. My country, Iran, was different, I loved it so much. But THEY destroy it, it is rubbish now, it is kharaba*
*(Kharaba Arabic word for destroyed)
-Moment of silence-
HIM: Are you Muslim?
HIM: I was
I stayed silent.
A million thoughts lingered my mind. Am I really na