To Sheri with Love!
My feet are flattened, my back is burning and my arm is sore from all the flag waving I’ve been doing for the past 4 days.
It’s July 4th and I’m basking in the glory of what we have achieved last night. 33 million people in the streets of Egypt exercising their right, expressing their anger and enforcing one of the very ground values of democracy: accountability.
And I was there..
I stood, I waved, I shouted, or rather screamed my lungs out. I went through a myriad of emotions in the four days I spent in Tahrir Square alongside 3+ million protestors against the reign of Former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood he represented. I felt proud, lucky to have made it back to Cairo on time, worried from harassment, scared from violence that usually erupts in a second and speculative. Will the army back us up? will they stand for our demands? Or have we just walked ourselves into a deathtrap like the 40+ victims who were brutally murdered in the past few days.
But last night, after hours of extreme stress levels and horrendous shooting pains down my leg, news started trickling in: Media Tower “Maspiro” was evacuated.. Army moved in and took over… Baradei(only remaining trustworthy focal man) and religious clerics will back a military statement soon.
Moments forever etched in my psyche. Marei signaling statement has just begun, Alaa sitting so close to hear and loudly repeat Marei’s word-by-word oral transcript… me hugging both of them to listen twice… My grip on their shoulder tightening with every sentence they utter, afraid a word might escape me… Alia tearing up as it became clear that Morsi was out and we have won our battle… Dozens of protestors closing in to hear Alaa, our future hanging on his every word… A moment of silence… and finally… a deafening roar of joy, fireworks and my not so coherent screams.
I was genuinely happy, we finally did it. But then I closed my eyes and I pictured Sheri’s face, probably drenched in tears of anger and despair. Her hopes for an Islamic country that she can finally identify with now crushed. I could see her despair.
Two days ago, Sheri gave me a few knee jerking first: she facebooked me with the most impersonal happy Birthday instead of dropping by or calling like she always did for the past, what?? 30 something years?
Yes, that’s how far back we go. No actually, we go back even further. Four decades of friendship that I always took for granted. But the years have witnessed winds of change from all directions. She quit on dance and painting and focused on a spiritual journey that knew no bounds. I married into a UN career of country hopping and global life. I never quit on my dancing, but I did stray away from the religious realm that she roamed in.
Rebels by nature, Sheri and I never lost our connection despite our vastly different lifestyles. We were childhood friends and nothing could stand in the way of that. Until that moment she chose to send me that impersonal Happy Birthday on Facebook.
For days now, we have been heavily campaigning for an Egypt that we believed was rightfully ours. Only now, we are campaigning against each other, and one read our heart felt pleas to the world to adopt our opposing causes, one would see that Egypt can never belong to us both. A country of age-old civilization and 88 million great people has no place for Sheri and I. Either her or Me. Either my kids or hers.
When did that happen? When did the cleavage between us become so deep, impenetrable? And Why?
I’m sorry Sheri…
I’m sorry you can’t see that Morsi failed to deliver.
I’m sorry you can’t see that raised himself above the law and pretended to be God.
I’m sorry you didn’t see many of his followers cry on the sidewalks of Cairo waiting for their trucks to be filled with Diesel, their livelihood on hold for hours and days.
I’m sorry you couldn’t see tolerance and personal liberties disappear before your very own eyes.
I’m sorry you couldn’t witness the fear in girls’ eyes as they heard menacing remarks for refusing to lose their identity to a veil or a Niqab.
I’m sorry you missed the looks of despair on my dear Copt friends’ faces as they started looking for exit strategies to secure their children’s future.
I leave for a year and when I come home, the change is drastic to my senses. To you it is probably so gradual that you can hardly perceive it. But the change was there and today… I finally see hope that Egypt will still have space for us both!
I’m sorry you can’t see that too.