Thursday, January 13, 2011

MAKING HIJRAH 21 "Slow Bus to Cairo"

Asalamu Alaykom,

We would take a bus to Cairo and walk the Cornish, which is the street next to the Nile. Sounds romantic, right? Well, my boy would be in tow.

This would be the same crazy boy who ran away from daycare four days earlier.  He actually tried to walk out the school gates too.  Having an extra pair of hands and another set of eyes to help me felt good.  If I was going to leave the house, then I wanted help with this untamed child.

And to be honest, I wanted to spend time with someone who put me at ease in Egypt.  The week had been so hard.  I needed to remember some good things being here.

The time went quickly and was mostly about how to keep a 4-year-old happy. Honestly, there were very few moments which were relaxed and quiet. I started to feel like I was insane to introduce a single man to married life WITH a preschooler.

We couldn't stay on the bench for long and went walking.

"NO! Get down from there!"

"STOP! That's dirty!"

"Take my hand! NOW!"

That was me talking to my son, not the Khalo. Infact, there were very few things which could be said to one another. I was getting embarrased and losing my patience.

Khalo remained calm and even loving of my boy's mischeif. The three of us walked along the Nile together. The path was full of couples.  I knew that we were being viewed as a family. I wasn't playing family but that's what was assumed by everyone around us. I knew it. I tried to hold myself back from enjoying that feeling too much. I didn't need any falseness.

We paused at the feluccas docked below. Would we like a ride?

Thinking...hmmm....ride a boat on the Nile? YES! Of course! So Khalo forged a cheaper deal (always his favorite thing to do) and we went aboard. This was going to be peaceful and lovely.

NOT! All my boy wanted to do was to touch the water. He wouldn't sit still! It was like a previously  undiagnosed ADHD had suddenly struck my son with a vengenance. I wanted an extra dose of Ritalin STAT!

The felucca operator---sailor? dude? The felucca dude couldn't stop flipping through all the possible Arabic love songs. It was as if he wanted to set the mood and was at a loss as to what the mood actually was.

In the end, we just laughed.

We walked back up the bank to the Cornish.  Cameras flashed in the night.  Since it was Thursday, all of Egypt was celebrating and the wedding parties were in full swing.  Taking a picture together in all their wedding finery were couple after couple. 

Some brides were fat and some were thin.  Some had carefully covered their hair, others had carefully let their hair strategically peek out, and others let it all hang out.  Each bride wore the same fairy tale dress of sparkling white embroidered with sequins, pulled in tight at the bodice with a full skirt.  Each bride wore layers of make-up trying to look as white as their dress. 

In America, it's almost a sin to let one bride see another bride on her wedding day.  If some fool let that happen in the U.S., there would be tears.  Here?  It's expected.  There are a million bijillion people and they all learn to get along---even if its "their special day" they learn to share.

I wanted to tell them the secret to marital bliss but since I hadn't exactly figured that out myself, I only passed by with, "Mashahallah!" and a smile.

Time to go home. We took a taxi. My boy fell asleep. The night around us was dark. Finally, we had some quiet. I realized, sitting next to Khalo, that we had never before had a quiet time. It felt good.
The evening ended without that very American goodbye kiss.  It ended without a lot of things. It ended without really knowing the future.

But then...none of really do know the future, do we?

Chapter 22

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