Never Not Thinking About Egypt

I’m struggling to make sense of Egypt and Egyptians. I’m really really struggling. I’ve reached a point

I took this picture during the January 25 revolution in 2011.

I took this picture during the January 25 revolution in 2011.

where I bury memories so deep inside of me that most recent events in Egypt are a mere blur in my head. People talk about the various huge post-January 25, 2011 demonstrations in which hundreds have been killed and all I can find in my memories is a hazy image of me sitting in front of a laptop or a television set in a complete state of incomprehension. I hear the names of people in jail or of people who have been killed and all I can say is, “Wait. Which one is that?”

Being away from Egypt for just over a year now has been a small blessing. I needed to break away from it all. I was suffocating. But just when I think I’m pushing through what I’m sure is post-traumatic stress disorder from the hundreds of events that have happened since the revolution, something new happens in Egypt and I feel like someone has a huge, hairy hand on my head, shoving my whole body into a crouch in a small, dirty, smelly sack.

I can’t breathe.

Why is Egypt the way it is? Why are so many Egyptians the way they are? Why can’t we have normal problems? And a normal life? Why has it become so commonplace for Egyptians to be killed by the police, the army, thugs, and neglect? How is it that there is no justice for the innocent while the guilty get away with their crimes scot-free? What is wrong with us?  (more…)

Egypt’s Minimum Wage Battle: Call Forth the Zombie Armies

My husband graduated among the top of his class in medical school. He got the best possible position a doctor could get in Egypt: a residency at Cairo University Hospital in the specialty of his choice and a stable medical career for life. We started our life together as a married couple just after he started his residency.

His salary was 200 LE a month; roughly US $30.

Those first few years of marriage were very difficult. Our families did not fully realize – it seems – the tough financial situation we were in. We very rarely got help in the first couple of years, so those 200 LE were basically it. Our dignity would not allow us to ask our families to help us through the tough times.

There were times when friends would stop over for a visit and I did not even have tea to serve them. Once, a very good friend of mine got married and I could not attend her wedding because I did not even have 25 piasters to take a bus to the wedding. There were times when I went hungry as a pregnant and later breast-feeding mother.

Having lived through that, I was cautiously happy to hear that workers in Egypt were going on strike on May 2 to call for a minimum wage in Egypt of 1200 LE. Cautiously, I say, because I’m among the pessimistic majority in the country that thinks change is still far away in the future, if it will ever come at all.