الأربعاء، 21 ديسمبر، 2011

"1"


 "1" was written during one of the sessions with Ana El Hekaya workshop about writing the Revolution. It is scheduled to be performed along with other stories written in the workshop in a storytelling performance in Cairo some time soon. "1" was inspired by my work in Laila Soliman's No Time for Art 0, which is the first part of a series of performances about military and police violence. NTFA 0 is dedicated to the martyrs of the Revolution. "1" was born in a moment that brought together the blend between brutal facts and the gift of our imaginations.  

1

            Abanoub had decided not to attend his math lesson on January 25 to join the protests. He didn't see his sweetheart Eveline that day because of his decision; but he saw her on Thursday at the biology class. After they finished, they stood together in the street and then took a walk till they found a batata vendor. They stood eating the small grilled sweet potatoes in the cold, enjoying their taste and how they warmed their fingers.

            Abanoub told Eveline all about Tuesday's demonstrations, and what happened at El Matareya Square when he went there with his friends instead of going to class.

            They went around the square till they found 5 or 6 others and then they raised the flag and started chanting. Suddenly, they felt the presence of Security Forces more than before. Abanoub did not tell Eveline that he was scared; he was scared of getting arrested or being beaten to death or something even worse than that. He couldn't even imagine what could happen. He just stood there chanting, his heart pounding loudly and his voice rising and his fist shaking.

He told Eveline about the moment the Security Forces ran after them and he ran far away to join, as he thought, another demonstration, and found himself completely alone.

Eveline laughed her squeaky laugh which Abanoub finds so funny. They finished the sweet potatoes as they walked and he told her how they went after that to Tahrir Square and what happened later on. He told her about when he finally reached Tahrir, it was Egyptian soil, 100% Egyptian, without Central Security Forces or Security Police.

He sang some of the songs the people sang that night in the Square as he walked her home.
He told her not to go down the next day, because Friday would be really harsh – even if her father permits her. He asked her to pray at home or through things from the balcony or even chant from it.

"Chant from the balcony?", Eveline laughed hard. "What do I say if I do?"

"Say 'The people want to cancel El Thanweya El Amma exams' ", laughed Abanoub.

At the corner of the street  before her house, Abanoub said goodbye to Eveline. He went to sit with his friends for a while. They agreed on where to meet in the morning so they would be a large group after Friday prayers. He will tell his mother he is going to a class; she will definitely not suspect him of lying. He could even go to Mass with her in the morning before meeting his friends so that she would approve of him that day, and nothing would harm him.

Abanoub told Eveline right before he left her at the corner, "Don't be scared, everyone will go down tomorrow. We all have to. I feel that I have to finish what I took part in on Tuesday."

On Saturday, June 11, Eveline sat for the Arabic and religion exams alone.

Abanoub Saber Naeem – 17 years old – Died of gunshot to the head at El Zawya El Hamra Police Station – January 28th.


Note: Abanoub's name is the first on the primary list of the martyrs of our Revolution arranged alphabetically in Arabic.  




Kufuf


This is a translation of Kufuf  كفوف
Kufuf was written during a writing workshop in July 2010 with Ana El Hekaya (I am the Story) writing stories for performance based on case studies of women who have suffered in child and marital courts for their rights and those of their children. It was performed in a storytelling performance held in November of the same year at the Oriental Hall and was directed by Caroleen Khalil.

Kufuf  - Palms

I carry your palms in mine. I carry them in the hands I took from you

I carry them so your burden is lighter

bags, suitcases and laundry baskets

No hands can carry all that alone.

That's why we get married, they say. Because no one can carry all this alone. 

You're palms are still wrapped around everything.

I carry your eyes in mine. My eyes which you gave me shaped like yours. I hold them in my eyes and I see a laugh in black and white, broken china, a star small and far away.

Then I know that when we fall me must stand again. When someone blinds us, we put our hands forward to find a path.

I carry your heart in mine. I carry your heart with me – always. I carry inside of me your stories, your dreams, your years.

I carry your heart with me so when it becomes heavy with sadness, I carry it from you and you would be lighter.

You would fly – a feather – off of small girlish palms adorned with silver that look like your palms.


الخميس، 1 ديسمبر، 2011

Space


Space

Sweet rough sweat; the windows are shut and the glass panes are cold to the touch, a small stubborn sliver of a breeze passes through it to bring in a smell of everything in the street that smells like nothing at all, like air clean of anger, a smell that dissolves quickly in the scent hidden in the details of the warm skin feeling like a delicate rug and sitting so comfortably in a perfume so intimate that has escaped pores and rested in the coarse cracks in  the wood of the table and the delicate planes of the floor as cool shy feet with the smallest hint of dried skin at the heels crawl up to the quilt clumped with heat smelling of laundry and damp with the left over taste of sweet sour grape drops that fell accidently, like the taste in the lukewarm morning breath brushing up against hair that scratches and tickles, damp with the wine at the tips and smelling of autumn and tobacco, that- along with the tips of a chiffon curtain flowing with the tiny breeze and tasting of edible dust – strokes the nooks to bring out another whiff of sweet rough sweat. 




الاثنين، 28 نوفمبر، 2011

Hide and Seek


I seek you.

I do not know whether I seek you out, but I seek you. Does this make sense? What is the difference then? To seek you out means from amongst a crowd. But there are no crowds between us.

Not really.
It's just you and me.

This is not a letter. This is a story I think, which would be easier to be told if I do not publish it under my name.
I will tell it pseudonymously. But which name to use? Who am I as tell this story to paper? Should I just begin?

My indecisiveness might give me away.

If I do seek you out (amongst people as we've agreed) then I have sought you randomly. We have found these words between us by chance.

I will begin randomly then. At any letter.

T         
          
Tea. Trust. Tentative. Table. Tobacco. Today. Tomorrow. Talkies.

I will let you choose a letter and I'll say the words.

D

Drama. Divine. Dinner. Drink. Don’t. Dance. Dress.

Let’s dance.

Let’s dance to the detour where this story falls into place – or pieces.

Dressed for dinner – no time for a dance with you. Not even on the stairs as we ascend.

I don't know where I am going with us. I started writing to tell a story, not ramble on. So I could put what I cannot say to you where you will never think to look. And even if you do, will you know?

Change of voice.

She seeks him.

She seeks him out. He seeks her at moments of fear, of loneliness, when her smallness resembles the tiniest thread to keep him from falling.

Or so she thinks.

Seeking is an act of terror. Beautiful terror. Blinding terror. Terror that strings two souls together for an instance and their bodies could not even be there.

She seeks him now. After she heard his fingers trying hard to understand.

She did what he did. She passed understanding and followed the sound of steps, of fingers stroking, and sought him out – even though he was alone.

The game of seeking requires hiding, and despite her size, she could not hide from him.

There was no room under the bed. The suitcase was too small. The rooms opened onto each other. The blinds were see-through. And the cupboard – there wasn't one.

Why hide from the joy of seeking?

She doesn't trust him. She doesn't trust herself.

Tomorrow then.

And she seeks him out.

I seek you out as she does him.

I am afraid of the puncture, of the flow of blood, when they pass through. After needle and thread have passed between us – just a middle passage, no intention of sewing – we will be wounded. We will need to hide. To heal.

Then tomorrow.

Bandages will fall and we hide to seek again.
Again and again and again.
Another letter then, to put an end to this game.

L

Letter. Leaves. Lost. Little. Lent. Lovers. Liquid. Laban. Louz. Lissa. L'aaw. Lateefa. Leiha.

Shit. This is what happens when you're not decided. I've just decided who I am now and I'm trying to figure out whether Arabic fits in.

Why the hell not? Don't you always say there is always the possibility? Never does not exist – that’s how I translate it. So maybe I could've learned some Arabic, wala eh? I could even go back while editing the story and stuff some Arabic words here and there. See, stuff. Like vine leaves and that oriental crap. Maybe crap is a bit modern for who I am? You never know. You said "never" is inaccurate, but here it's used with a possibility.

To be honest with you, I never thought of me as a possibility for seeking. But the seeking is not sought, right? It just happens?

I just happen.

I do. I happened and now we're staring at the thread going through us not knowing whether to cut it or just wait it out, at this very spot where it all began.

C

Carlos. Create. Cut. Cairo. Cotton. Come. Care. Comfort. Christ. Cream. Connotation. Carry. Cinema. Constrain. Camera.

I suddenly realized there are no words in Arabic which can begin with a c.

Tomorrow then.

Soles will meet.

I'm so indecisive. Now, I don’t know whether to end this story here or keep it going?

I can’t even think of a proper ending.

Should the thread between them break? Should it tear by itself with time?

Maybe they should decide. After all, it is their story. I am just the messenger, who happens to have an elusive pen name.

I can guess, though.

Each will choose an ending – no. They will both choose the same ending but with a different interpretation. Then they will tug.

And in the tugging. Pulling. Pushing. Longing. Holding. Releasing. The thread will break.

After that…what will happen?

God knows. One story at a time. I'm  only just beginning my writing career. Just let me wrap this one up, sign it and go out.

Tomorrow, then.
Such an elusive word. Tomorrow comes every day.

                                           Peppy Miller,
                                     28th of November, 1928



الأحد، 27 نوفمبر، 2011

Forgetting July



            

                Q. What to expect when you're not expecting?
                A. A mad desire to pull the brakes on time and change things.
Tick
Tock
Tick

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

What will follow is the maddening rush of thoughts and memories – like you can't stop the tap from running: what I should’ve done, what I didn't do.

I don't know how the hours passed – I can almost hear the clock over the TV going berserk in agony, and you pleading, no let this be 20 years from now, let it never come. Give me some time.

The telephone was off.

Prevent the dog from barking with the juicy bone.

 Does Yoshi know? Did he lose weight because the visits stopped? I wonder sometimes if he had barked at the sudden restlessness beneath him, whether anyone heard him moan.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Always at dawn. It always comes.

Sometimes a little after dawn, a few times during the middle of the night, I can hear it again.

The pain begins small at where I think my heart is and then I wake up.

Your smell is attached to my nose by some miracle of time.

Your smell never changes; it is always the soft and rough mix of all the scents you use and your stubbornness.

It is the few times when your voice changes that I feel my chest cracking open in worry. No, not your voice, not the stone I lean on.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

I never saw the beginning so I could never sit and anticipate the end. I couldn't hug you. I had nothing to say. There was nothing I could give that would have made a second of your day bearable.

My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

It was in Ibrahim's room, after the funeral, when I felt so detached wearing your PJ pants that I love. You against the window, blowing the smoke from the slender slims and the humidity outside stifling the trees.
With every breath you were working on your composure. You had mastered it by the end of the night. But I know you too well to see through your solid mask of handling it all.

I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

I was wrong. So are you.
I never thought you would cry.

You've tried so hard to keep him away during those endless hours – to keep him as far away as possible hidden under all the things we said, beneath conversations. I thought you would not crumble.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one

In the dark of his room. At the foot of his bed. On the floor he walked on barefoot. His soles treading. You sat.

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.

I hate saying this to you but you are wrong.

Tick
Tock
Tick
Tock
Tick

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;

Things haven't changed. Not all the way.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

The clock is breathing normally on a Friday morning in July. The kitchen is bustling with voices of those who woke up earlier than the rest. Hamza's stories about dinosaurs fill my morning with green. He is here.

Ibrahim's voice.

Iten's calm.

Dahlia's eyes.

You.

I was wrong – you who would not admit this so easily.

You who slept beside her where he lay. You are the living breath of what is most precious. You carry it in the arc of your brow and the brown of your eyes, the hair strewn on his pillow: you carry the woman he spent his days loving.

You carry his most precious memories without even knowing what they are.





*The lines in Italics are from W.H. Auden's poem Funeral Bells"

الخميس، 24 نوفمبر، 2011

Rings


Rings

To be gifted with such beauty, with such adoration.
To be gifted with this love.

I like to think of myself as a woman of  my word.
Never go down without earrings.
She said.
It was not my word I have been breaking, it was hers.

For two days now I have gone down without earrings. I never do.
I was afraid my mommie would notice. My lack of adornment. If I walk quickly, she wouldn't notice what is missing between the curls.

Alaa Abd El Fattah is still in jail, even though General Tantawy has declared that investigations into the massacre of Maspero at October 9th 2o11 have been moved to Civil Prosecution.

Alaa was the first who said it. We fear our mothers more than bullets.

I am afraid and that is why I have not been wearing them.

I fear the terror at the pit of mother's heart crawling up to blind her from anything else other than what she wants, that we stay with her, that we will not go "there".

I lie. I break promises. I put up pretences.

I go.

I am afraid.

Tying the first watch I got – the one my mother gave me – her old watch, around my wrist, I look at the brown leather jewelry box where earrings live.
I open it. I move my fingers through silver and stones. Gropping.
No. Not there. Not when anything could happen.

I remember last January's ends and the buds of February as I translated instructions for those braver than me.  It was very specific.

Do not wear any kind of jewelry they can  pull you from: necklaces, pendants, earrings, etc.

I don’t have studs.

And so, for the past days I have gone down with my ear lobes naked.
I play around the small brown bedding where they lie trying to find one to wear that matches my mission.
Then I ask myself, whose gift, whose love, do I want to sing in my ears if I die today?
Despite my cowardice and constant removal of myself from harm's way, I play the game.

My grandmother's old silver earrings, which came to me as a gift on my 12th birthday.
The pearls I got from a circle of beautiful women the day I got appointed at university.
The jade ones I made from the four honey stones Khaltoo Mona gave me before she left us.
Mother of pearl – 19th birthday – from 4beautiful , now, women.
Yemeni jade set in Yemeni silver along 12 years.

I decided not to wear any. No studs, no rings. What if one of those killing us ran after me for some reason and grabbed my from my earring and tore it out of my ear?

I would have another one of those. I would have to transform them.

Another one like the crescent lost in Alexandria's winter.
The Celtic design with silvery blue from my grandma's lands.
My mama's little sterling hear – rose quartz so soft – which now lies at my throat in a chain.

No earrings to Tahrir today, I decided.

As I breathed his long missed smell in the first half of the day, I didn’t need to reach up to my ears and feel empty.
He filled them with lapis lazuli and coral set in harmony and meticulous detail of every minute he spent choosing them.

The taller, more cynical me.

The first time I went to Tahrir Square was with him.
Now, I tell him, "I will call you when I'm there".

Things do go around in rings.

Everything does.
We start at a point and we end at the same point. But at the point of ending we are no longer those who set off. We grow and we carry with us the fullness and the wholeness of a complete ring closing around an ear lobe. And then we move on to the next ear, the next pair.

This time is different. We all know. This time we move collectively. Together, past the borders of Tahrir Square, to reach its fullness.

This time we will not shy of wanting to be complete.
This time we will remember.
Egyptians have never sung to crescents.
We've always sung for full moons.








Wednesday, 23rd of November 2011.

الثلاثاء، 22 نوفمبر، 2011

The Truth at the Heart of the Square

This is something that has come to me as a conclusion, a fact, a truth, call if what ever you wish but this is it:

At Tahrir Square there is only Truth.

There is no more space for doubting this and nothing angers me more than the people I meet randomly who are still questioning. So much has happened - so much beauty has come from Tahrir - that I feel we can no longer question it.
Tahrir is a soul that is definitely divine and if you don't believe in divinity then it is the most beautiful of life that I have seen.

What has been happening since Friday late night and the early hours of Saturday 19th of November is nothing but a betrayal to the Egyptian people, to all of them, those with the Revolution and those against it.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) is only continuing what Mubarak's regime has been doing for 30 years. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has not changed its policy. For the past three days it has been killing the peaceful protesters and shooting at them with tear gas, live ammunition, rubber bullets and other types of small weapons - shooting at vital body areas like the head and abdomen. Not only that, but they pick up the stones and rocks which are the only weapons we have to throw them back at the people.

SCAF is supposedly in control of the country and they can't control the Riot Police? I doubt it. The Riot Police have orders from SCAF and the Military Police have joined in brutally beating the hell out of the protesters to empty the Square.

Now, Tahrir still stands. With lesser numbers but with more heart.

I fell asleep on Sunday night during one of my breaks from infront of the television and Twitter. Ahmed, one of my oldest friends, called me and woke me up; I hadn't spoken to him in months.

After short greetings I asked him, already sure of the answer where he was. "Tahrir", he said. I asked how things were going. He briefed me very quickly and then said, "I need to ask you something, its very important. I need to know from you, do you think it is right to be here? I need to know from you. Is it right?"

I remember feeling so drowsy and yet so certain when I said "Yes, it is right. There is no other right. Tahrir is always right".

How can it not be so? How can it be anything but truth?

When Ahmed Harara loses both eyes to the soul of Tahrir, how can it be other than right?

When the people at the front lines battling the security forces stay there for hours on end, breathing this gas, and keeping ground, how can this be other than truth?

When the people keep coming in, with food, medicine, blankets, and belief, then this can never be wrong.

The pharmacist we bought medicine from yesterday made us a 20% discount when he found out we were going to Tahrir. My sister's colleague tweeted that the cab driver who drove her to Tahrir wouldn't take money for the ride. Someone else retweeted a tweet about another cabbie who wouldn't take money.

No one wants to go to the Ministry, we are defending our Revolution and our rights and our country. We are defending Tahrir and our right to be there.

This is Tahrir, this is the beauty of Egyptians and this is why we are in the streets today and why we will
remain there till we breathe freedom.



الأحد، 20 نوفمبر، 2011

بيان المعتصمون في التحرير 19 نوفمبر

مستمرين في الثورة

رجعنا تاني للتحرير، عشان لسو وبرغم مرور 10 شهور على تنحي مبارك المجلس العسكري والداخلية بيتعاملوا مع احتجاجاتنا بالدنطق نفسو، منطق العنف والسحل.
بدل ما المجلس العسكري يحل مشاكل مصابيين الثورة ويوفر لذم العلاج المحترم، استخدم القوة والأمن الدركزي لفض اعتصامهم السلمي، يعني مصابي الثورة يضربوهم بالرصاص والخرطوش في نفس الوقت إللي مبارك والعادلي فيو بيتعالجوا على نفقة الدولة أحسن علاج وهما في سجونهم.

في الحقيقة اللي بيحصل ده جزء من الثورة المضادة اللي بتتم بتدبير وتحريض وقيادة من المجلس العسكري، فبعد ثورة قامت عشان الحرية ولقمة العيش، بقى واضح إن في مخطط لعقاب الشعب عشان ماحدش يطالب بحقوا تاني؛

  •  أداء الداخلية والأمن في القمع والتعذيب زي ما ىو زاد عليو حالة من الانفلات الأمني المتعمد عشان الناس تحس بالفوضى ويبقى اللوم موجو باستمرار للثورة والثوار.
  •  الاقتصاد لسو منحاز للأغنياء على حساب الفقرا، والأسعار مافيش نية لضبطها، يعني بدل ما الثورة ترجع للناس حقوقها، الناس تزيد عليها الضغوط الاقتصادية ويحسوا إن الثورة جات عليهم بالخسارة.
  •  الإعلام الرسمي لسو بيشوه الحقائق وبيطلع المجرمين ضحية، وبيعمل كل حاجة عشان يشعلل الصراعات بين أطياف المجتمع ويلهي الناس عن حقوقهم ومشاكلهم.

يعني ببساطة المجلس العسكري لسو منفرد باتخاذ القرار، وبيتحرك في كل الاتجاىات إلا في الاتجاه الصح للثورة، وكل يوم المجلس العسكري بيستمر في السلطة بيبعدنا أكتر وأكتر عن اىداف ثورتنا وعن شكل المجتمع الجديد إللي بنحلم بيه.

إحنا موجودين في ميدان التحرير وفي كل ميادين مصر وشوارعها لغاية لما السلطة فعلاً تبقى للشعب، لغاية لما نبني نظام جديد يطلع من قلب الناس ويعبر عنا وعن 
مطالبنا

الثورة لسه مستمرة لتحقيق
العيش والحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية لكل المصريين

الثلاثاء، 19 يوليو، 2011

Scotch in the General's Office



The air conditioned office was shaking at a two seconds interval every time the old brown York air conditioner burped some cool air.

Mubarak's picture was on the wall behind the desk. He looked like a teenager compared to the figure sitting in the dark chocolate brown leather armchair.

The whole room was dressed in this shade which grotesquely matched the old York dripping water through an orange hose into a lime green bucket.

Ghali lit a cigarette – Gauloises – and leaned forward while staring into the face hovering in midair between cap and collar. He opened his thin lips to say something but then changed his mind.

No, he thought, asking for whisky is not a very smart move. He'd already said he didn’t want anything to drink.

"Well, Mr. Ghali…"

"Please General Fangary, there's no need for these formalities. You can call me Mr. Waguih."

"Mr. Waguih"

"I'm all ears General."

"You do know why you're here"

"Actually Mohsen, I can call you Mohsen, can't I? I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here."

"BUT you are the one who requested this INTERVIEW MR. Ghali."

"Please, there's no need for Ghali, this is as you say only a friendly interview. I did request this meeting but I only did so to hear what you have to say to me in person General."

The abrupt pause was broken with a moist burp from old York.

"I AM really confused Mr. Waguih. I DON'T HAVE anything to say to you."

"Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue Mohsen."

Fangary's eyes – enlarging – stared at Ghali through the thick smoke. The minute became two as Ghali enjoyed the last of his smoke and Fangary tried to understand what he had just said to him which made him so pleased with himself.

Ghali smiled as he put out his cigarette.

"General, your ridiculous – pardon my language but I can't find a more suitable word – interference in my life clearly shows you have something you want to ask me. So just go ahead, I'll be direct with you, I promise. I won't lead you on like those silly teenagers you send my way to know things about me."

The York cleared its throat.

"Mr. Ghali…the Supreme Council for ARMED Forces' position is not to be ridiculed. The Council is concerned with Egypt's safety ONLY"

"So am I Gen."

"Yes, yes however the Council will not STOP at ANYthing to protect EGYPT FROm anything."

"You've made that clear Gen."

"The COUNCIL will ALWAYS and FORever protect Egypt even if from Egyptians themselves."

"Oh for goodness' sake just spit it out Fangary"

"You are a THREAT, a potential one MR. GHALI!"

"Damn it, I thought I'd be a confirmed and dangerous threat General after all you're doing"

"This is national security Mr. GHALI. Do NOT Belittle it."

"What's itching you Fangary?"

"Excuse me??"

"What is up SCAF's arse??"

"YOUR wife is AN Israeli. Mr. Ghali. You've abandoned your Egyptian nationality; you've come to EGYPT after decades of being abroad after January 31st. THESE are ALL reasons for breaching national security and secrets. They are REASONS TO SUSPECT treachery AND spying MR. Ghali. DO you UNDERstand me?"

"I think you are highly mistaken General for more than one reason of course. However, the most pressing is the fact that I am absolutely not a spy because I have no Facebook or Twitter account, nor do I carry a camera and I most certainly do not sit in any of those posh air conditioned coffee shops."

"This IS NOT A joke MR. GHALI. Egypt is GOING THROUGH A critical…"

"I'm not done yet Mohsen. My wife is an Egyptian. Her religion is her business, but if SCAF would be so impertinent so as to meddle into the citizens' private matters, she became a Copt when we were married. If you're also wondering about me, I don’t really give a rat's bottom about God, religion or even marriage, but its not so easy to get out of marrying a woman who's been your lover for over half of your life."

"MR. GHALI, this IS GONE …"

"You haven't done your homework Fangary. I have not given up my Egyptian nationality. It was stripped away from me because I am a communist."

"WE do not SAY this word in these offices MR. GHALI"

"Which word is that General? God, lover, communist or Egyptian??"

"This IS GOING TOO…"

"Far Fangary?? I guess what's his name, the pullover guy really did work up the airport and flight records, eh? He is such a great loss.  Isn't he? I arrived in Egypt January 31st 2010 General. 2010."

"This is NOT TRUE. You ARE A spy, you CARRY an English PASSPORT. You…"

"Actually it’s a French passport and Swedish one as well. I've already told you Fanagary, I am not a spy and I go to Tahrir to protest because I am an ordinary Egyptian fellow who wants to overthrow the regime for a breath of democracy."

The York erupted violently. Fangary rose out of his chair and knocked over the small Egyptian flag on the desk.

He was breathing heavily; his face turned red, purple and yellow in a few seconds. He raised  his right arm as he leaned with his left hand on the desk. His forefinger rose – an erection despite the rage – pink and swollen.

"Ghali…you…are…"

His laugh preceded his quick slim hand as he held Fangary's finger and put his arm down.

"Oh come one Fangary. It'll stick to you like a prostitute's reputation for faking orgasms. Do stop the fingery pointing"

He chuckled, proud of his borrowed joke, before he continued.

"Sit down man, take a few deep breaths, we won't argue over whether I've got an English or French passport."

Ghali pushed Fangary gently back into his Chair. He moved around to the side of the desk and picked up the flag and put it back where it was.

"THANK you MR. GHALI"

"Don't thank me General, no thanks between us. Do you mind, though if I take the flag? I'm quiet fond of its size."

"IT'S an Army possession Mr. Ghali…BUT…"

"Thanks mate Come on, let's have something to drink, you need a sip of something."

The General stared at Ghali as he rolled the small red, black and white flag around its pole and stuffed it in his shirt.

He swallowed twice, clenched a Parker pen in front of him before ringing the bell for the office boy. Half a minute later a young man dressed in kaki with cap and all was at the door.

"Yes, Sir. What do you need Sir?"

"I will have a Turkish COFFEE, no sugar. What will you have Mr. Ghali?"

 "Double scotch, please, no ice. Thank you. It's not too early in the day to have whisky, is it?"