I Was Born Just Yesterday pt III
Part Three of a series on the beauty and death Egypt now faces.
I was a burden lying up on the board, and they were walking around the arena with my legs and feet.
They roamed with me and I roamed with them, through every inch of the arena; we passed all of the entrances, all of the exits, around and around the field for seven laps. The rest of the people saw us as a white cloud, circling their heads.
People, with their delicate hearts and faces, were subdued while looking at us. All of them were believers and they knew that I was still alive; all of them saw the pure color of my blood, smelled my musky scent, and saw the light in me. They were glad for me and rejoiced. They hoped to take my place and get down to my level.
- “From Egypt” attempts to draw a cultural map of Egypt and the Arab world by profiling the artistic, literary, and political issues that affect the region via on-the-ground coverage of current events, publications, and the fight for freedom of expression.
- Hamdy El-Gazzar is an Egyptian writer and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He is currently working on a third novel.
In the center of the arena, my brothers put me down facing Kiblah.
Then a young Imam stood over my head; he looked at me with a lighted face, his pious and devout smile shining. “God Bless you…God bless you,” he said.
The Imam gestured to people for the prayer, greatened God, and the people lined up in rows behind him without end; the whole arena, and all of the streets leading to it, were flooded with worshippers; O God, how many humans prayed for me…O God, how much I prayed.
“Allah is the Greatest” was said by millions. The words shook the ground and rose up to heaven; they prayed for me while standing; a prayer without bowing or kneeling, they greatened God four times and read Al-Fatiha Surah and supplications in between, for their bodies and mine, then said the salutations.
The Imam saluted his right and his left, and people behind him did the same.
When the young men with their coffins came next to me and the board; I got up, spread my wings, looked at them, and smiled. Then slowly, calmly, I flew away.
I soared over the amazed people’s heads. They were astonished, speechless for a time, before lifting their eyes and hands toward me as they chanted and applauded. I rose up gradually, from one layer of air to the next, wandering across every inch of the arena’s sky; I kissed every breeze, and stayed.
I have already stayed here for days and nights, waiting for the people’s victory.
And here I will stay.
I have suspended my soul right here, in this arena, and I will never leave this place; I will dwell here until Judgment Day; I am the bird that was born just yesterday. I am the living martyr.