The longest I have spent in Egypt in more than one year.
I honestly was a little bit afraid of the outcome, but I chose to kick that feeling out of my guts, and invite something completely different.
I decided to block out of my sight the traffic, the smog, the angry faces.
Instead I chose to look behind those glares, into the souls of the people that I used to live amongst. I saw the pain, the agony, the hunger. And when that was done, I saw the crooked smiles, the masked patience, the will to go on.
I looked beyond the “kol sana winty tayiba ya fandim” and indirect requests of tips, even though no service was rendered. I looked at the tanned faces from countless hours in the sun looking for alternate ways to feed their families.
And slowly a feeling I have not felt towards my homeland started to creep back into my heart.
I made my way to the hotel, and at first direct interaction, suddenly I could only see one thing. Those smiles. Those genuine smiles. And that is all it took for me… to fall back in love.
After spending hours in our Cairo office, it seemed as if I had never left.
Quite strange no?
It all made sense when i fell asleep beside my mother who I hadn’t seen for many months. I told her “mama, I really missed you, but it feels like we were just together yesterday”
She replied in her matter of fact tone, that for many years as an adolescent I had rejected, but now is an indicator of what is said next, is pure words of wisdom
“habibty, that’s how it is between mothers and daughters. However long we are apart, the moment we are together again, everything falls back into place.”
And I understood. I understood that Egypt, like my mother, even if not geographically attached, is my home.
I fell asleep like a baby, making all my insomniac nights suddenly seem like a delusional rumour.
Again back to the office in the morning, I found myself looking forward to the commute (which was 5 minutes don’t get me wrong) and more so, looking forward to seeing my Egyptian colleagues. Not just the ones I was formally introduced to, rather, the office boy with his helpful demeanour, the ladies and gents with their welcoming smiles, although they may not know us, and not officially introduced.
As our meetings progressed, one feeling was projected from them, the passion.
Don’t get me wrong, I work with many passionate and dedicated people, but here I saw something I relate to. Something only a fellow Egyptian can understand. Hence, I shall leave it to your imagination, and not ruin it by attempts to describe.
As the long hours started and ended, and fatigue creeped into my body, I was kept alive by one thing. The humour. The fun that they seemed to inject in every conversation, appropriate one that is. Again, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a day full of clowns and jesters!
The ability to make eachother laugh, to draw a smile on eachother’s faces (even if they have to force it on with their own hands) was just magical. Made the 9 hour meeting feel much shorter.
I won’t bore you anymore with my rekindled love story with Egypt, no, the Egyptians, but only one thing I conclude with. I definitely want to come back again. And soon.
An Egyptian abroad…