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 This is a story I think, which would be easier to be told if I do not publish it under my name.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.

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

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


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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



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 

الثورة لسه مستمرة لتحقيق
العيش والحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية لكل المصريين