Friday, February 21, 2014

I Was Only Me

Asalamu Alaykom,

R.I.P. Mohammed Ramadan

It's Friday.

The Cairo Stadium riot is over.

The bodies of the four dead hikers in Sinai have been found.

The South Korean tourists who suffered from the bus bombing are either buried or recuperating.

The government schools remain shut until March 8 due to H1N1.

Do you hear any of these stories about Egypt?

I hear them and they hurt me.

If I were picking a country to live NOW, it would not be Egypt.  However, I picked it in 2009 and I landed here.  Tomorrow, I'm supposed to be getting a kitchen designer coming here to take measurements.  It's a moment of, "Am I really staying here?  Should I really be sinking more money into this apartment?"

This week I've been working so hard and today is my day off.  Jummah Mabrook.  It's as if I didn't have time for the pain, and now that I can relax, some tears flow.

One day this week, riding home on the bus, I caught sight of those plastic bags filled with bright pink cotton candy.  They were, as they always are, held aloft on a stick.  I couldn't see the man carrying it.  The vivid color was this beautiful contrast to brown and beige neighborhood.  I heard the toot of the horn cotton candy sellers always use.  It's joyful; the whole moment is a promise of sweet things.  Then, the seller came into view and it was only a little boy.  I was surprised to see that he couldn't have been much older than my son.  He was dressed in a galabiya and he was working as he walked.  The sight of him trying so hard to live through this moment was melancholy for me.

So many people are trying so hard.  Probably you are too.  My mother loves to say, "Life is not for the faint of heart."  She's right.  At the same time, it's our hearts which enable us to keep us humble and quiet.

I talk A LOT as a teacher.  I have to.  They pay me to lecture and read and guide.  I'm quiet right now.  I'm sitting in a sun-filled salon, typing on this beaten-up laptop with a soppy face.  Somehow the quiet has brought me to this moment of reflection.  You truly can't figure out where you are and who you are with too much noise and news.

I cropped myself out of a photo today and I sent it along with my CV.  I hadn't gone looking for work but an email came and there were some big numbers involved.  I looked for a recent photo which didn't make me look too haggard.  That's not an easy task!  Since the summer, almost all of my photos have been bad; I've looked worn out, old and tired.  I went back to the photos from our Spring trip.

I was smiling and happy next to my husband in Aswan.  I looked vivacious and it's been a while since I've seen that face.  After opening it up in Photo Editor, I pulled the rectangle closer, closer, closer.  I was alone since you couldn't see my husband any more.  You couldn't really tell I was in Egypt either.  I was without person or place.  I was only "me".

Who are you when you are only "you"?

 Do you like what you see?

I like me.

I'm just not sure if I like me living here.

Mohammed Ramadan's last picture he posted on Facebook before he died.

Later today

I got that quick and disappointing response from the recruiting company.  Yes, they had sent the email BUT they weren't going to submit my CV to the school in question.  Whatever.  I replied that it would be good to tell me why I was not considered a good candidate so I didn't waste their time in future.  Regardless of what they say, I don't think I'm going to venture outside of Egypt.

Mohammed Ramadan tweeted from Sinai, "Egypt:  love it or leave it" not knowing that he would soon leave Egypt and the whole earth as well.  The message remains after he's gone, Allah yerhamo.

It sounds, at first, as if you have to submerge any negative feelings to remain living here.  That isn't true.  Pretending to be happy when you're not isn't healthy.  It's good that I applied for a job outside of Egypt.  Alhumdulillah.  It's good that they refused my application.  Alhumdulillah.  It's freeing to know that living and working here is a viable option while other possibility aren't.  It frees me from dreaming stories instead of planning reality.  I need to cool my jets and accept that I'm here; I'm not leaving.

If I am here, then I need to be loving.  I have to find a way----past the bad news.  I don't always like living here; it's true.  I just have to keep from hating it.  Things in motion stay in motion and I don't want to become embittered by events.

Inshahallah, this will remain my home, not because it's the place where I'm forced to live but because I choose to live here.  I explored an option and it didn't work.  I am free to go but I choose to stay.



Marie said...

Hard to know what to do when you don't feel well, when the reflection in the mirror doesn't fit with who you are.

I didn't left because my husband was mean with me. I left because I was not me anymore. I felt like a ghost in my own body. I wasn't alive anymore. He didn't help. But it's not all about him. I accepted too much. Till I realised it wasn't God choice I was following, but my own.

I imagine it's very hard being in Egypt right now. But maybe your life is there, maybe it's where God wants you to be. I don't know. I would like to have words to help you but I don't.

Take care of yourself Yosra and may you find peace in Egypt.

Love from France

Anonymous said...

Salam aleikum, I don't know if I have commented before but I have read every single post of yours and enjoy your blog very much! I live in Sweden, one of the greatest contries in the world, in the materialistic sense. Being a moslem here, well, sometimes I just want to move away. But where to? The grass is not always greener somewhere else, but sometimes it is I guess.For now we are here nad we have to say alhamdulilah and do our best!/ S Susan

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

As always, I appreciate you stopping by and voicing your thoughts. You do have interesting things to say.

I found what you said about leaving your boy's dad to be so insightful. That's really true for a lot of us, isn't it? I think it was true for me in my first marriage. The difference is that, once I realized I didn't like me, I thought I could change EVERYTHING while still staying married. It wasn't possible. I had to stop holding on to that which no longer served me.

The problem in Egypt is that the place and the people still serve me greatly. I still learn and love and grow here. I don't always like it---sometimes I hate it but I remain. I do like who I am MORE than before. I feel I am a better person.

I do worry what direction this country is headed and whether or not I want to go there. Maybe the fear of what's going on is bothering me more than the actual events. Plus, I need to distance myself from the bad news. Most of it doesn't touch me directly. I allow it to touch me but I can also get some perspective and detach.

Peace is where it's at. I'm striving for it and hopeful to maintain it.

Love and Light to You and Yours!

Asalamu Alaykom Susan,

Nice to hear from you. I'm glad you like my Sweden??!!! Well, I have some Norwegian in me so that Nordic strain might be resonating with you. LOL!

It is a wistful wandering of the mind, isn't it? Wondering where in the world we could be better off? In the end, as Muslims, perhaps we need to settle for dunya, as it is, and strive for Jannah. In the end, there's not going to be any place which is free from corruption, sins, and sadness.

I think of the chances I've had to travel to other countries and teach. Any one of those countries could have a sudden emergency level issue: natural disasters, coup/not a coup, economic upheaval, etc.

Maybe planning my trip to America for this summer will help me chill. Getting perspective of Egypt while over there will hopefully enable me to return with some "distance makes the heart grow fonder" attitude.

"Alhumdulillah and do our best" is very true.

My best to you and yours :)

Love and Light!