Leave me on a desserted island with nothing but a pen and a piece of paper; with those, I shall create myself another world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Journals of a Foreign Egyptian

This is one that I have written about a couple of years ago. I only posted it because I realized how ironic it is, in comparison to my last post. I suppose the transformation from 100% pessimist to umm..a billion % optimist is too obvious to require pointing out. 

Journals of a foreign Egyptian
Born in Saudi (1991)
Lived in Saudi (until 2008)
Lived in Egypt (from 2008 up to current date)
So...am I an Egyptian who felt foreign in a foreign country or in her very own?
I never really liked our summer vacations to Egypt. They were boring, I knew no one and I ended up obligated to either hang out with my sisters and their friends, or at home. However, I still couldn't stay in Saudi Arabia for college. My last two years alone with my folks at home were the typical teenage years in which being in peace with Dad and Mom was actually a highlight of the week. But I loved Saudi. I loved it with all my heart.

When you live in a place like Saudi, it never occurs to you as you grow up that those priceless friends you make are only temporary. You enjoy the freedom (and yes, I did say freedom because Saudi is not the hell-hole everyone believes it to be), you enjoy the non-judgemental mentality, the fresh outlook on life. It never occurs to you that one day, very soon, you will have to leave and make new friends - in a place where friendship is defined in different terms.

This place is what I should call home. What I have to call home. Because no matter how much I loved the kingdom, I yearned for the day I would return to Egypt. Yet, the moment I arrived I could not tell where exactly it was I did not belong. My birth in an alien country never deferred the fact that I was a foreigner there. But my Egyptian passport didn't make me feel like I fit here either. I do not believe that the problem lies within my dissatisfaction because I would like to point out that I am not an unhappy person. I'm just a person who can't find home.

I stepped foot on this land optimistic with just the fact that this time my friends could be permanent. Could be lasting. Nevertheless, I was wrong once again. The friendships lasted shorter than I could imagined and for the strangest of reasons. Within the premises of my university, people were divided into groups of different sizes. Some were made up of 3 members and other of more. Some swore in the name of friendship and loyalty that they secretly stabbed every second within the day.

Others defined relationships in terms of what serves them and what doesn't. And then there were the friends who you practically lived with only to find out that they are only friends of company - friends that remained friends as long as you are continuously in their company. If, God Forbid, you are not in the mood of going out for a while, they simply seem to forget who you are.

And after seventeen years of friendship that were simply lost by departure from a country and two years of friendships that failed epicly one after the other for the most hilariously trivial of reasons, I came to the conclusion that when you live in a place like planet earth, it never occurs to you as you grow up that the friendships you make, like everything else that lives, simply die. Call me a pessimist but at one point or another, everything in life does. But that's alright. It doesn't hurt when you remember the good friends you had and the way life drifted you apart. Because you still recall them with a sincere smile on your face. It's the
other kind that hurts. The kind of friendships that ended due to betrayals, immaturity, replacement, ulterior motives, hypocrisy, abandonment and the worst of all...the friends that just never actually loved you back.


Mohamed, Ali said...

Well said! Your words have much of an impact. Let’s face it, we as pure Egyptians or at the very least the bulk of us feel strangers in our own country. Folks are overridingly concerned about earning their living and making ends meet. In Egypt I can tell that we have no room for welcoming newcomers like you. Gone is the time of hospitality especially in greater Cairo. Your experience is virtually identical to mine when I moved from Upper Egypt to the esteemed Cairo. Being naive and erroneously thinking of Cairo as Utopia, I went on my own, without knowing where to stay or how to reach Al Azhar University. It is in Nasr City this was all I knew about it! I went through all types of humiliation, homelessness, frustration, blackmail, theft, loneliness and decrepit educational system, just to name few. My first year in Cairo was unbearable, a year I long for omitting it from my timeline. I do not like to remember it either. I do understand your feelings at the time but at least you were accompanied by your family. You’ve probably encountered hard times because you have not been in the right place at the right time. Anyway, sorry for that and welcome to/in Egypt.

Yara Hani said...

Actually, you are wrong. When I came to Egypt, I had to leave my parents behind. I had sisters, yes. But the parents I was so very used to were not physically in my life in Cairo. Which, I suppose, made the dillema a little more complicated on another aspects. Believe it or not, though, I have found the ability to not wish for a single thing to have been different. I have had my break downs, my weeping calls to my parents, my insomnia and messed up friendships and relationships in the first couple of years that actually changed who I am and dropped 10 kgs out of me =]. However, at the risk of sounding cliche, I have learned so much. At a city like Cairo, you really see it all. All forms, shapes and sizes of people who will break you both unintentionally and intentionally. But isn't that life =] Thanks!