"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.
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.