حين يتحول الليل إلى لحظة واحدة طويلة متصلة, أنسحب من العالم لداخل رأسي.. ثمة حياة أخرى وعالم آخر يجعلني أبتسم, ثمة كون آخر شكلته الحقائق العليا والأشياء الصغيرة.
لفافات تبغ وأقداح قهوة ترسم خطوط اللون الأسود, قوس قزح يسطع بعد مطر دمعي ويملأ الفراغات بالألوان, وعلى التلة الخضراء يقبع بيتها, لا يحوي سوى صندوق عتيق داخله اسمها, أغلقه كل يوم بأقفال جديدة تحرسه مني ومنها, وأشعل عوداً جديداً من البخور.
أجمع العالم في جيتار أداعبه ثم أهشمه على صخور الشاطىء, ولم لا؟ إنه كون الأشياء الصغيرة, لا فيه سواي. لكني إذ أشهد أشيائي الصغيرة أن ألست بربكم, فلا أسمع سوى صدى صوتي.
إذن أنا أشيائي الصغيرة ذاتها,.. إلا بيتها. لم أقمه, لم أغلقه, لم أختر له اللون والمكان, والأنكى أنني لا أستطيع هدمه, إلى أن أهدم كون الأشياء الصغيرة معه.
أيعقل أن يكون بيتها علة وجود كون أشيائي الصغيرة؟
وهل يظهر الخفي إلا بالأخفى؟
“لو كانت النجوم لا تظهر إلا مرة كل ألف عام، فأنى للبشر أن يتناقلوا عبر السنين ذكرى مدينة الرب”.
كل شيء إذن كان درباً لهذا الشروق
والضوء إنعكاس لهذا البريق
والدخان, هو بعض هذا اللهيب.
Did you ever think what would happen if all the rivers poured into a puddle instead of an ocean? If all the roads were in fact leading -in a very real way- to Rome? Have you seen a typical deadlock in Cairo streets?
Then you know the feeling.
So many thoughts that I want to let out, but they keep crashing in my brains, resulting in what I call “synaptic noise”. When thoughts merge too much they result in a mood, a feeling, an eerie sense of almost instinctual obsession with something.
Here I am, in a night-shift at work, dreaming away the hours, trying to figure out how to unlock my thoughts.
Maybe a smoke and a decent cup of coffee is indeed my promised paradise.
I have a confession, I have a very strange kind of sensitivity, I call it compilation of the subtle. When I’m hurt, I could lock myself up or be depressed for days or even tear when whatever is hurting is on my mind. So far it’s normal.
Enters compilation of the subtle.
Take today, I’m at work, trapped in my day job and striving to meet a deadline for my moonlighting job, and there she is, so beautiful, so divine, so perfect, and so distant, everything feels like a fight against the universe, opposed to my usual sense of connectedness. I haven’t smoked for 2 hours because I’m THAT busy, I’ve had 5 cups of coffee, and I feel my blood is turning into gasoline, all what I need is something to explode in.
It’s not anxiety that I’m feeling, it’s not anger, it’s wrath.. building up, building up, building up, building up, building up, building up.
Yes, tracing wrath to the small things means it’s probably sadness, grief, boredom, and entrapment in every possible sense. But does that make it any less dangerous?
I am the self-proclaimed God of small things, and you can’t stop my wrath, but you will bring it upon yourself when you get in the way, when you stir just one of my small things. My small sore things.
I need to get out of here..
I start the engine.
Heliopolis looks so beautiful by dawn. European-style buildings standing tall beside Mosque minarets, BMWs parked next to FIAT 128s, reminding me of how diverse Cairo is, how diverse Egypt is, and how in that diversity lies beauty, in chaos lies harmony, in contradiction lies consistency. That’s my Cairo, that’s my Egypt, that’s my identity.
I push the pedal and drive along 6th of october bridge. For the first time I notice how many minarets we have in Cairo. Was it trying to reach as much believers as possible when it’s time for prayer or was it an attempt to reach higher up towards heaven that made them build minarets so high? I guess there’s no way now to tell which is which, but I like both thoughts.
I think to myself, Latin beat matches Cairo spirit a lot. Is music truly universal or am I half Latin somehwere up my family tree? I know I got Arab, Egyptian, Turkish blood, but Latin? I still didn’t mind the thought. I feel at peace with the wolrd, and most importantly, with myself.
I push the 5th gear, and think to myself, maybe it’s the spirit of overcoming obstacles that attract me to speed-driving, maybe that spirit will paint a new canvas of a new Egypt one of these days.
What draws the line between ambitions and wishes? I don’t know for sure, but I know every wish I have is an ambition until something stops me.
I don’t know what on earth could stop me, I’m half-crazy, and that’s closer to virtue than I’ve ever experienced.
I’m empowered by millions like me who drive along high-ways and wonder, what road-bumps is the world going to bring along? They’re not stopping, neither am I.
I’m in love with a city, a culture, a place, an identity, and I’d die before I let it go down history as mere memories. We’re here to stay, to rise, and we will.
I kill the engine. I park and get off my car self-righteously as half a god. Could anyone stop this new dawn? Could anyone stop this new day? Could anyone stop this sunrise?
Cairo is there, like a goddess, she knows she’s here to stay. So do we.
My “good” is very different from your “good”, but they both share one thing. Neither is good enough.
A cafe in open air, an exceptionally hot Cairo summer night, the rejuvenating feeling of being around friends, and -surprisingly- strangers.
I stared into the void while my friends indulged in a girly conversation, I drifted for a moment, not thinking of anything, not focusing on conversations that wind throw my way.
I think clarity has less to do with focus than what we usually think. When you’re focused on something you leave your mark on it, you perceive it in a mixture of what it is and what you want it to be. Only by being a perfect bystander could unbiased clarity come.
Voices mingled, and in that very moment that voices became unintelligible, they brought a new kind of perception. Voices cease to have linguistic significance, but they do carry the mood, the feeling, the aura. It’s almost as if the air around the speaker resonates with meaning that I cannot perceive by hearing.
Voices had colors, and in that moment everything felt so perfect. Everything, everyone, every shade of abstract had a meaning and a purpose. Voices had all kinds of colors, but they all belonged to the same rainbow, so did I.
Black is still my favorite color, but I can’t help wondering.. If I could ever distance myself from myself, and listen to the void, would my voice come in the color black?
When all what exists becomes a constant swing from one extreme to another, what remains real? Nothing that I know, nothing that I don’t know, nothing that exists except that void. Is it familiarity that I miss? Is it certainty? But when was I ever familiar with anything? I’ve always been the eternal lonewolf. Estranged by all, blending with masks one after another and never sharing a real face. What familiarity did I ever have to lose? What certainty? I could prove or disprove all what exists in my head, at will. Or could I? Maybe it’s all in my head. What scares me is how I tried before to make myself feel alive. I’m more alive if more things around me are dead. It’s like a slow-burning fuse, getting closer and closer to dynamite. I still know my cure. I still know my cure. I still know..
So often I know my reasons -true reasons- for doing or not doing something, and more often than not it weighs me down. True reasons aren’t always the most noble or dignified ones. You bear with yourself, you bear with others, and you go on. Gradually, that cement bucket lets go of your legs, or you succumb to water and consider the free fall into the deep just another current. But I’m cursed. I see the answers in hesitation of others, the real reasons pulling the strings, so rarely do we confess it to ourselves. I see mine, I see others’ ,and it still weighs me down. Free fall is becoming something that I’d soon fight against. At one point, it wouldn’t matter how many buckets drag me down. I’ll have to enforce my own current. Free fall’s delusional elevation is over.
سألتني: لماذا تدخن؟
نظرت لها لحظة و قلت: كل الناس تخاف السرطان, أحياناً أشفق عليه من الوحدة.
ضحكنا.. و أخذت تتحدث بينما شرد ذهني.. بعيداً..
أخذت أفكر في كل تفاصيل حياتي.. أحلامي الكبيرة.. إخفاقاتي الأكبر.. الأسئلة الحارقة التي لا أجد لها منفذا.. أو إجابةً.. الأشياء العديدة التي أعرفها, و الأشياء الأكثر التي لا أعرفها.. و اللغز الأكبر المستعصي على الفهم: من أنا وسط كل أقنعتي…
واصلت النظر إلى حلقات الدخان الرمادية المتصاعدة ,منتظراً أن تتشكل الإجابة في تماوجات الدخان في أي لحظة..
لعل هذه هي الإجابة؟.. ربما….
8 يونيو 2002
The ancient name for Egypt is Kemet or black land, inspired by the fertile black soils deposited by the Nile floods, distinct from the”red land” (deshret) of the desert. Over the years etymology did its thing and made Kemet into Egypt.
This is probably how I perceive Egypt, a mixture of colors and scents and traits. It’s like a gigantic blender that’s been running for thousands of years, mixing pharaohs, romans, arabs, persians, turks, armenians, albanians, muslims, copts, jews, east, west, and all the shades in between.
The resulting “cocktail” is my Egypt. So colorful, so diversified, but still one.
It is strange how our ancestors divided Egypt into Kemet and Deshret.
Black and Red.
Just add a touch of white and you’ll get our flag as it is today, 5000 years later.
Maybe there’s something about black and red that resonates with”Egypt” after all.
Black is my favourite color, and in my world it doesn’t associate with evil. Black is more than a color to me, it’s a theme, a concept, an identity.
Black needs nothing to be what it is, unlike all other colors. It is by itself the absence of everything else.
It’s self-suffecient, evident, and complete. If perfection had a color, it would be black.
This is my shade of black. This is my Blackland.
Self-suffecient, complete, majestic, mystique, and like all what’s beautiful, it’s even more beautiful when wrapped in the black of the night.
For all what it is, for all what it could be, for all what it made me, I say it proudly..
I’m a Blacklander from the Blackland.
In love and gratitude for what she is, in hope of what she could be.
I give you Masr, Egypt, Kemet, The Blackland, from Cairo with love.
August 12th, 2006 1:00 AM.