zamalek

Betrayed

My 18-year-old daughter, Somaya Abulfetouh, wrote this poem in light of last night’s horrible events in Cairo. She has given me permission to publish it on my blog.

Betrayed

By Somaya Abulfetouh

A boy of sixteen leaving his home

Once in the street, he kicks a stone

His mother sleeps, her door open a crack

She has no doubt her son will be back

A man and his wife go out to root

He wears a jacket, she wears her favorite boot

They’re happy and giddy; it’s their favorite team!

For a long time that’s been their dream

A girl of fourteen bids her father farewell

He tells her not to be late; she tells him she’ll be well

She checks behind her back out of habit

She’s so innocent, like a little rabbit

The boy of sixteen never got home

The man and the wife didn’t die alone

The girl of fourteen was not well

Who calls their families, who’s the one to tell?

Children and men, what did they do?

They had no ticket; they couldn’t get through

Is that why they died? Is that your excuse?

They shouldn’t be punished, not even a bruise!

“You should be protecting us, you should be our safety!”

“If you’re the ones who kill us, what should our fates be?”

Everyone wants to know what this is!

They all shed tears for all the injustice

If a mother worries when her child leaves to school

And a husband can’t let his wife out the door

If every time a man leaves so he can provide

He isn’t sure he’ll be home that night

How can they call this their home?

How can they live if they’re that death prone?

No one should have to go through this much pain

If this is a drought, when will come the rain?

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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…)

Cycling Europe Day 56: Good Latvian Vibrations

When I grow up, I want to be a Latvian motorcyclist.

We crossed the border today from Lithuania to Latvia. The 70km ride through northern Lithuania was similar to the past few days: rural. Latvia, on the other hand, almost immediately had a more modern, urban feel to it.

After reviewing our maps, Colin and I found a route that would allow us to get to Riga, Latvia in one 153km-long day instead of my originally planned three shorter days. We decided we would give it a go and if we got too tired midway we’d find a roadside hotel.

It was a whopper. I was fine till kilometer 100. Then a truck passed me way too close. I screamed but kept the bike under control. That episode just took all the energy out of me. We stopped for a big lunch but nothing gave me my energy back. It was a rough 53km until we reached Riga.

Just after we crossed into Latvia and took our commemorative photos at the border sign, we started off on the major road we were on and heard a police siren give an attention signal behind us. I started to pull over, thinking, “This was bound to happen. We’re on a major road. It’s probably illegal for cyclists to use it. To stay out of Latvian jail, Nadia, CRY!” (more…)