Archive for June, 2016

Day 1

“Kol sana wenti tayeba ya hanem.” The bawab casually said after fiercely insisting on helping her move the bags from the taxi, then quietly continued staring at her.

She frowned. It was definitely not her birthday, Eid wasn’t until a few more weeks, and August was one of the few months that was so obviously free of national holidays. After 35 years of living in this country, she still found it frustrating how Egyptians use a kol sana wenti tayeba when they only mean give me some change. Actions as simple as that made her question people’s sincerity all the time.

Tucking her hands in her pocket, she got hold of the few coins she had received this morning at the supermarket, and reached out to him. He disappointedly looked down at her hands, and upon realizing she was not planning on giving him more, he grabbed them, said salamualyko and left. She quickly headed towards the door and made sure it was locked, for she was longing to finally spend a few hours by herself.

It had been a pretty eventful week. She had taken the decision to move ever since the day of the funeral, when she realized she’ll never be able to continue living at her house without the memories of her husband haunting her everywhere, but only got around doing it this week. Her dad had initially bought her this apartment many years back, among his plans to secure her family a source of income later after he passes away. She had already visited this place a lot as a child during construction, but little did she know that she’ll be forced to visit (and actually stay at) it again as a grown up.

It took so much energy to convince her husband’s family that she’ll do fine living on her own, for their Egyptian mindset was still so concerned with what people would eventually say about her. It was quite disappointing to realize they only wanted her to stay with them because of some societal taboos, and not because they genuinely cared about her wellbeing and wanted to closely take care of her. She couldn’t blame them though. She had been newly married after all, and hadn’t had the chance to establish a close connection with them during such a short period.

Aimlessly walking around her new apartment, she knew she needed to start unpacking. She was eager to start making this place feel a little more like home. It was in fact beautifully furnished and equipped, since her mom was the one who had worked on it herself with her brilliant design team. Every detail was well thought out, but she needed more time to really connect with the place, and that was okay.

“Why don’t we quickly change, make some coffee, then start out with the big guys over here?” she said looking at one of the huge bags by the door.

Referring to herself as we was one thing that always cracked Mahmoud up. She would constantly let out questions like “Isn’t it about time we start working on this project?” or “How come we’ve been surviving on a tuna sandwich all day?”, when she obviously meant that she needed to start the project or that she wanted to grab something to eat. She never realized how weird it was before she met Mahmoud and she would always then wait to hear his hysterical giggles every time she did something similar.

Having said that then, she flinched at the memory of the time when he laughed at it so hard then quickly put his arms around her waist, pulled her closer and whispered, I can’t wait for our kids to pick up that piece of you. She slowly smiled, feeling his hands around her, yet before allowing herself to get carried away, she forced herself to get up and headed towards the kitchen to get her coffee ready.

Her hands reached out to open the top cupboard, but they were met with an empty space instead. She looked up, and realized she was only doing it out of habit. This is my new apartment, she had to remind herself. The cups aren’t placed at the top.

She slowly bent, grabbed her favorite cup from beneath, then turned on the kettle. Remembering she still had to pray Asr, she headed towards the washroom, allowing the water some time to boil. Again, her hand reached out to the light switch, which she had gotten used to it being outside the washroom, not inside, and she still found nothing but another empty space. It’s okay, you just need more time.

She reached out to the switch inside and finally got a better view of herself in the mirror.

“Oh look, seems like we just had a good hair day!” she cheerfully told herself, and then heard the kettle’s switch going off. She hurriedly finished wudu’, prayed, asked God to please stay beside her during this new phase of her life, then went to get her coffee.

With the cup in one hand, she grabbed one of her bags with the other, and pulled it closer towards her room. It was a somewhat intense moment, since that was the only room in the house that she hadn’t had the chance to see before. Leaving the cup aside on top of the hallway’s gazzama, she entered the room and finally turned on the lights.

It was beautiful, in every possible sense. With its purplish walls and handmade butterfly-shaped wallpaper borders, every item in the room was carefully designed to match. The transparent curtains were thoughtfully placed to hold back the excessive sunlight while still allowing for a great view from the inside. The wooden desk nicely matched the bed’s patterns and there was a large space ahead of the mirrored cupboards that directly faced the balcony.

She stood there, slowly taking in every detail, yet feeling mentally paralyzed. Is this really going to be where I spend my nights from now on? Is this really happening?

She hadn’t precisely had any expectations beforehand, but this room was completely different than the one she’s been living in her entire life. She had previously refused to move into a new house with Mahmoud because she couldn’t imagine abandoning the one room that had witnessed all the different phases of her life and watched her grow all through, preferring to solely replace the bed with a doubled one for Mahmoud. Her friends had all been silently judging her for having married an Egyptian man who found it okay to move in with his wife, but that was exactly why she continued to fall in love with him even more everyday.

Now he was gone, and his memories were everywhere. She couldn’t stay at the house with his absence getting so loud each day, and she still couldn’t accept living in this room that knew absolutely nothing about her.

Just like every time when she couldn’t find enough words to really express what was happening inside, she descended to the floor, leaned back on the wall, and started crying.

She cried because she had been carefully living all this time without allowing herself to get this attached to anyone ever since her parents passed away, and it was perfectly working, until she met Mahmoud. She cried because she had promised herself not to take temporary friends to her favorite places or show them her favorite books – for she knew it would ruin everything for her once they leave, until she met Mahmoud. She cried because she had successfully stopped creating lasting memories with people way before she met Mahmoud. Everything changed for him and because of him, and nothing could ever go back to normal at this point.

He was the only man she had willingly unlocked the secret doors of her heart for, and exposed him to every tiny part of her soul. She didn’t only take him to her favorite places or showed him her favorite books, but they also magically created their very own secret world of favorites, a world no one knew about. They had their own favorite cities, music, movies, ice-cream flavors, pizza places, conversations, catchphrases, pieces of each other, inside jokes, and above all, favorite moments spent in that same bedroom she was being forced to leave. Now she couldn’t leave this world behind, for he still existed there and yet he was gone.

He knew she hated nothing in life more than the idea of change, yet still, he was the reason behind the darkest, most painful change of her entire life. And he left.

It hurts to be me.

Posted: June 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

She enters my room without knocking the door, sits at the edge of my bed with a sandwich in her hand, feeling very hungry after tonight’s long Taraweeh prayers. She notices I’m holding my phone and assumes I must be having some free time on hand.

After taking a few bites from her sandwich, she starts telling me a story about her friend, hardly taking her breath in-between sentences. She seems like she’s been eagerly waiting to blurt the whole thing out to me all night. I silently listen until the story ends, and then realize she’s waiting for a reaction. I smile, not so effortlessly. It takes some energy to allow such a weak smile to break through, yet I still find no words to say.

She takes another bite, slowly chews onto its every inch while I hear every detail taking place inside her mouth. It irritates me, and she pauses.

She begins to tell another story. I listen. She’s done and she waits for a reply. I weakly smile. And then she pauses again.

The entire scene’s repeated around three times while I lie there on my bed, too drained to even take my scarf off and allow some fresh air in.

Eventually, she’s out of words, and her sandwich is almost over. But she still wants to stay. She grabs her phone and starts showing me pictures of things I’ve originally been trying to avoid. I still smile, but this time she feels it’s too forced and decides it’s about time she stops trying.

“Looks like you want me out.” she says, not waiting for a response. She slowly walks towards the door, as if she’s waiting for me to say something that would make her stay. But nothing comes out, and she quickly shuts the door.

Silence.

Did I say something wrong?

I actually said nothing at all.

Did that upset her?

Well, her face didn’t seem so happy.

What did I do wrong?

More silence. Oh, how I love this.

I need the silence. It’s been a really busy day and I need to spend those few hours alone before my alarm announces the beginning of yet another new day, before I’m forced to ignore the urge to be alone again.

My arms unconsciously grab my bended legs closer, and my head finds its perfect spot in between my knees. I rest my head and listen to more of the silence. It’s extremely mind-soothing.

Something weird happens inside though. It happens so quickly that I have no time to understand where the flow of tears is coming from.

My heart suddenly feels too heavy and I realize the tears are probably not going to stop anytime soon. My arms pull me in closer and I silently continue to cry. It painfully hurts.

It hurts to be me. It hurts to realize there’s no way I can stop being me.

I don’t breath oxygen to survive; I breath alone time. Silence is what my lungs are short of on those days when it feels like I’m out of breath. The sight of a closed door is what my senses long to see and feel. And all that extremely hurts.

It hurts how I continue to push people out because the wrong people are in and they only happen to drain my energy all day – that I have none left for those who actually matter. It hurts how the people who wish to exist in my life the most have absolutely no idea how much my own life needs more of them, for I don’t have enough energy to pull them any closer. It hurts how I never get enough of my alone time for I can hardly overcome the accompanying guilt that continues to remind me that someone’s longing for my presence while I’m being so selfish. It hurts how I can’t explain it, and it hurts how I sometimes even don’t understand.

It hurts that I can’t function properly because my misophonia is supported by two extremely powerful ear drums that are fantastically able to hear the sound of two tiny ants quietly bumping fists at the far end of my room. It hurts how I completely hear nothing of what people say when my tangled thoughts are mixed with the unconscious sounds of their hungry tongues. It hurts how no one seems to be bothered with things that totally paralyze my own brain cells, and it hurts how I can never say them out loud.

I genuinely enjoy being the introvert I am, and it’s impossible for me to imagine myself being anything else. Yet it still hurts and I don’t think I’ll ever have a say in how much it does.

Because it will hurt when I see their name on the screen and willingly flip the phone over. It will hurt when I see them on campus and look the other way even though I’m certain they’ve already spotted me. It will hurt when I shut my door at the end of a hectic day, while they have been impatiently waiting for my arrival. It will hurt when I see their pictures with an empty spot – where I should have been posing, and it will hurt when I later realize someone else has filled that spot. It will hurt and they’ll probably never know anything about it.

Yet, out of all the people, I know she’ll still enter my room everyday, tell me stories, finish her sandwich right beside my ears, show me pictures, and then disappointedly walk away. May she never find it in her to stop herself from doing it over one day.

My Heaven

Posted: June 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

Last night, I was sitting at the backseat of a car next to my sister, with absolutely no idea where we were heading. It all happened so fast, for in a couple of minutes I heard a crash and felt like my soul was literally being sucked out of my chest. I was irresistibly being separated from the world, but it wasn’t anywhere near painful. In fact, it was too peaceful to be true. I did not feel in control and it felt too beautiful to have someone finally assuming responsibility over the body and soul I thought I once owned.

A few minutes passed, and we both found ourselves in an exquisitely decorated room, with our eldest sister lying on her bed, looking like an indescribable piece of art. She was delighted to see us and eagerly wanted to share everything she had come to discover about that place ever since she arrived. She offered us chocolate, and it was extremely mouthwatering, unlike any chocolate we had ever tasted before, that we couldn’t stop grabbing more out of a box that seemed to refill itself the more we ate.

I looked down for a second and realized I was barefoot, with no idea how it actually happened. Before I could do anything about it, my sister told me to let my mind wander to any pair of sandals that I had previously always wanted. I did, and it was a matter of seconds before a pair of elegantly shiny black sandals appeared beneath my feet. It was even better than magic, that my mind had to spend the next hour wanting things and watching them appear even more charmingly than I imagined.

It was just like the good old days; the three of us hanging out together in a room where nothing seemed more entertaining than our own company, besides our instantly fulfilled needs and thoughts. We talked about everything and nothing, yet the best of all was when my eldest sister rhetorically asked “Can you guys imagine we get to stay here forever?!”

“Forever?!” I surprisedly asked. “Oh God, I’d never get bored of this place. Are you sure though?”

“Yup,” she said with a smile breaking through her face, “Not even for the rest of our lives, but for eternity. We never ever leave.”

My eyes began to water and I started thinking about all the things I had previously planned to do the minute I made it here. I was about to start screaming after an endless flow of thoughts conquered my head, when I clearly heard the sound of dripping water falling down my AC and onto an already wet floor. I opened my eyes to find myself back in my worldly room, with my hands holding on to an extravagant phone, in the same position I had fallen asleep in the previous night.

I hurriedly ran to the washing room to bring a bowl for the dripping water, and sat back on the floor next to the sound that brought me back to a world I was truly starting to despise. I watched as the drops of water continued falling down, and remembered the aesthetically heartwarming waterfalls lying outside our room just a few minutes ago that we were almost planning to get a closer look at from outside, right before my mind decided to wake me up. Guess it couldn’t completely handle such a heavenly experience.

I continued watching the splashing water drops hitting the edges of the bowl, thinking about how very innocent my subconscious mind seemed to be. How it defined my heaven as spending some quality with my distant sisters in such a magical room. How it didn’t wonder for a second why I particularly deserved to be in such a place, and not in a rather nearby Jahannam. How it made it all feel so smooth, not realizing how much it already sins every day, that the journey couldn’t possibly just end this way.

I woke up to the sound of a loud TV, where my dad was listening to news about a UK voting to leave an EU – where the whole world actually was; none of them completely realizing that a few layers above those skies lies a beautiful heaven that we hardly allow ourselves to think about amid that much of our worldly concerns and humanly imposed borders across countries.

I woke up wanting to write about the heaven my soul was loudly yearning to get another glimpse at, not realizing I almost missed the Dhuhr prayer while daydreaming about its beauty. Not realizing the amount of the supposedly good deeds I think I do every day, while they might only be bringing me further away from Him.

I woke up not wanting to be here, but feeling too heavy at the thought of all the things I needed to do to not be here. I woke up wondering why He decided to show me a dream as troubling as this was, at a time when I wasn’t really the best I could be. I woke up wondering if I truly wanted all this to come to an end, for in all seriousness, I have absolutely no idea where I’d end up being if it finally came true.

 

Do you?

Posted: June 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

Do you ever long for how their words used to make you feel and start rereading their very old pieces just to get a glimpse of it again?

Do you ever wonder if their brains still generate the same heart-soothing phrases and regret how you have no access to them anymore?

Do you ever get so close to texting them just to relive that feeling of watching them type as you wait for their replies, but still refrain?

Do your fingers continue to hover over the keyboard when you spot their names somewhere, longing for just one last conversation?

Do you ever wonder if they too experience what you go through yet continue to remain silent about it for both your egos are that powerful?

Do you wonder if they still write about you? Do you wish it could still be true?

Do they cross your mind when you see this picture, for all you’ve ever wanted was to get hold of their inner child?
Do you catch yourself randomly thinking about them after you’ve already promised yourself to stop that self-torture for the 100th time?

Do you still shudder at the possibility of never having met them, for despite everything, they’re still the reason for who you are today?

It’s so very weird how things start existing everywhere only the minute you learn about them, or the minute you wholeheartedly start accepting them. It somehow feels like the universe keeps things away from you on purpose, because it knows that this version of yourself is just not ready yet to be exposed to whatever it’s holding back from you, and it’s extremely baffling how it happens with almost everything in life.

I major in accounting when suddenly everyone around starts arguing in financial terms, and certain terminologies from the accounting world that I had never heard of in my life before start being overused. I actually start falling in love with my major when, out of nowhere, I start crossing paths with passionate accounting students – even though I know for a fact I would have very much appreciated their existence when my other non-accounting friends weren’t being supportive, but they just never seem to exist then. I decide to simultaneously attend another university and the minute I stop finding it weird or stop being hesitant about it, I happen to find out about friends of mine, that I had already previously known, already doing the same thing while we both never got the chance to mention it to one another.

I take Business Ethics and Marketing courses when suddenly companies around Egypt start showing real improvement on their sustainability levels (as if they’ve been taught by my very same professor at the exact same time) and marketers literally start applying every thing I learn in class. I start learning Spanish when suddenly my SoundCloud decides to randomly play Spanish songs that I had never come across before, and ads on the radio start mentioning Spanish words that already have little to do with the product itself.

I get to know someone and find them very interesting, then shortly realize they had been a friend of my friends all along while I don’t even remember having seen their face before. Someone introduces me to their friend and I literally start seeing no one but them everywhere on campus ever since. As if people themselves are not allowed to exist in the world unless my own mind acknowledges their existence first. As if the world keeps people away from my life until it’s done implementing it’s very well-crafted version of our own meeting, and then it decides to let go.

I spend a semester abroad in DC and every other book I read afterwards is either set in DC or in a nearby state that I only got to learn about during my travel, along with other phrases/names I wouldn’t have related to if I had read the book anytime earlier. I learn about a certain type of food and every person I know unexpectedly seems to then be familiar with it. I visit a certain place and shortly realize that so many of the people I know have already been there while I had no idea it even existed.

I could keep going on and on until forever, and none of those encounters would fail to sound any less baffling, at least to me. It just makes me think how much this world could still be holding for me; impatiently waiting for me to learn about them just so it could finally allow them to flow into my life. It makes me wonder about all those things and those people that I might be walking past everyday, not realizing that they are in fact meant to be part of my life, while I’m the one hindering the process by not having learned about them yet. It really makes me wonder. Above all, it so much warms my heart realizing how very well-planned my life always turns out to be, with everything making its way inside at the time it knows I’d need it the most. I guess I really am in love with the way this universe works; the way He perfectly makes this universe work, without a single mistake taking place, whatsoever.

Facebook

Posted: June 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

Today I realized I have a serious love-hate relationship with Facebook. After 3 months of deactivation, a person like me – whose comfort zone more often than not exists somewhere behind a screen, realized that she can’t really decide if she “misses” being here, or if she still despises that day when her younger self kept begging her mom 9 years ago to create a Facebook account, because she so badly wanted to be like her friends and sisters; a constant wish that shaped too many unnecessary parts of her childhood.

This place actually taught me so much about myself. It was where I first realized I was so passionate about writing, and it was one of the few spaces where I could actually write literal nonsense and still get uplifting feedback that would continue motivating me to write more, which eventually did help in improving my skills. Not surprisingly, it’s what triggered this new post, after long months of not being able to write; for the minute I re-activated and went through my old posts, I felt extremely jealous of my past self for how eloquently she could describe certain feelings that I have been unable to word for a very long time now, which automatically had my fingers itching to let down whatever words my mind was trying so hard to shush. It was because of Facebook.

Facebook is where I am always able to watch myself grow and mature, through looking at old comments and posts, and observing my different patterns throughout the years. It’s where I am able to connect with friends I know I’ll never cross paths with again, and even with those whom I get to see often but still do not have a chance to really connect with the way I do over here. So many of my close friendships initially started from this place, and so many relationships would have hardly been maintained if it weren’t for Facebook. This, and so much more, used to have me falling in love with Facebook everyday.

But then I realize I still hate what it’s making out of me. I hate the obsessive side that shows up whenever I’m back on Facebook, which eagerly pushes me to refresh my homepage every time I get hold of my phone, to keep track of my notifications and make sure I don’t miss any recent posts. The obsessive urge to always be connected. I hate how Facebook is a reason I’ve missed so many prayers, because I would often get too occupied stalking someone’s profile or arguing with someone in such a non-real setting, that I wouldn’t realize how much time I’d spent staring at my screen, while I thought I still had more.

I hate how the judgmental side in me prevails when checking certain people’s profiles, not completely realizing I should be focusing back on my own messed up life instead. I hate how I unconsciously start defining people by their number of followers and the likes they get, which is something that Facebook has been aggressively trying to instill in our minds for years, through its each and every update. I actually hate how it succeeds in making me TOO self-conscious with each passing day, for the fear of being as fake as everyone seems to be in my own mind, or the fear of being someone who only creates this certain online persona of themselves, while in real life I might be nowhere near that. It’s scary how often I realize I’m losing myself here, that I am forced to just pause and distance myself from any online presence, in an attempt to identify who I really am deep down in there, away from a world where everyone literally feels watched with every single click.

I hate how we’re losing the “humanistic side” of relationships, where you’re not really sure if that person really likes your picture or if they’re implicitly trying to send you a specific message, where people openly share words and feelings about each other with the world, while they might hardly be able to do it together in their private spaces, and where you start missing out on big events in your loved ones’ lives because they happened when you weren’t on Facebook and so people just forgot to let you know about them.

I hate our stolen privacy, where Facebook deeply enjoys telling people when exactly you’re online, giving them the full freedom to approach you whenever they want, and the subsequent right to get mad at you if you’re unable to reply back within minutes; for your status so obviously says you’re available, while in fact you might be sitting there, wishing you could just curl up and die. I’ve never understood this about Facebook. In fact, there’s hardly any other social network available right now that gives away so much of ourselves to people the way Facebook does. It’s crazy and I. really. really. really. hate. it.

I hate the useless discussions, the تدَخُل في حياة الناس بطريقة بجد تضايق كل الناس, the forced interactions, the سف على أي بني أدم عايش في الدنيا طالما هنضحك شوية, the fake-ness that prevails after wanting so much to belong, the negative energy that this place often spreads, and the fact that no matter how much I try to stay away; deep down, I would always feel there’s something I’m missing out on.

However, one thing I’m so proud of is; a few years back, I would always find myself frowning at whomever decides to criticize Facebook in anyway, for it defined so much of the person I was. Now I understand. Now, I enjoy watching people frown at me when I begin to criticize anything about their beloved space, because I’m always certain that it’s just about time. It’s truly just about time. It always is.

11 June 2016