Memoirs of a Lost Freedom: Jumping out of the Circle – A Dream of Egyptian Woman
It was dark and dim, but swimming inside felt comfortable and fun. What is happening, I feel as though I am moving without really wanting to. Sucking my way through this enclosed circle that I was in was the most natural way to survive. It was like living in a happily ever after world where all what you need comes true.
How long can a situation remain forever? We have to face change and adapt. I feel the comfortable circle that I am in stiffen and I am about to be pushed out of the comfort zone. What is expected outside and why does this occur? It seems like it will never end. There is an upper and powerful source that is now in charge. It will discharge me out of my dream world. I feel I am no longer welcomed in this environment and change has to occur.
Out I flew into the world of mysteries and perplexities. There are sounds around me, but I cannot see properly. “Look at how cute it is’’ said a voice nearby. I gasped and realized that I am no longer swimming. I felt the warmth of tender skin crushing me. I wanted to suck, but I could not. I screamed and cried to be heard and realized that the sucking now is not as easy as it was before. I finally was able to suck warm nourishing liquid that quilted my hunger.
This new world that I was forced out into is totally different than the one that I had been used to. The previous was dark, but here I feel it is sometimes full of light and other times it is completely dark. In my first world everything was easy food, warmth, and safety. Here, unless I am held in someone’s arms, I feel unsafe, cold, hungry and uncomfortable.
Why does a person start his life in the dark uterus of his mom and end up in the dim grave beneath the black soil? It is a circle or a cycle that we have to go through. It is a question that has no answer. It is what happens to all human beings. This circle is not just evident in a person’s birth and death we can observe it in nature. We have the cycle of day and night; summer, autumn, winter, spring and summer once again. We have the cycle of the earth itself going around itself in circles and around the sun. Even as we are created from being non-existent we finally become not there after death. The flowers are there for a while and then they die and disappear. Every single thing alive around us goes through this cycle. Since this circle is everywhere around us once we try and get out we lose balance and may fall. If we try to turn in non-stop circles, only few of us can tolerate this action and not collapse on the ground.
Growing up in Egypt we are engulfed not with circles as we see in nature and living things but with a set of rules that are enshrined in our religion, culture and traditions. We learn from our parents, grandparents and elders that this is the way matters are dealt with. We should pray, obey, study, marry, and not question, think, challenge, evaluate, nor rebel. These characteristics are embedded in most Egyptians no matter which class he/she belongs to. It is also related to the circle because the grandparents hand these to the parents and they teach them to their children and this goes on forever. It is not a box that we should go out of; it is a circle that we should flow with if we want to survive in this world.
Having been raised in such an environment where we are only passive receivers of what we are told is true and what we were persuaded to believe are our duties, we tended to go about the daily tasks in a never ending cycle or circle. It is the engagement in this cycle that makes a person stop thinking of jumping out.
To take a leap out of this circle is to achieve freedom which is an illusion. This is not only with Egyptians as we all live in a society that deprives us of our freedom once we grow up which is the case with most women and men. During our childhood we are called by our names and some of us get an education thinking we will keep our individuality once we graduate, get married or start working.
Actually, this does not happen as is apparent in society and in our own family. Once we reach a certain age we have to issue an ID which is a number. This number I believe dehumanizes a person because a number is inanimate and does not reflect us. We do not have the freedom to choose a number that we like, for example, as it is imposed on us. This number is supposed to be with you whenever you go out, so in other words, it takes the place of your name. At work, we find the people who work in certain places wearing a certain uniform which again deprives them of their freedom to wear whatever they want and it is another invasion of their freedom. The same scenario occurs at school with children forced to wear the school uniform to prepare them to the world of rules and lost freedom. When we get married and have kids, we are no longer addressed with our names but become Mom or Dad. I am not against being called Mom, but where has my name gone why do I not get to keep it. Giving birth to a new human being makes me lose my identity and become a category or a label. Then youngsters start calling you Auntie with no name which again dissolves one’s true identity. Our names were chosen by our parents and we choose our children’s names.
Where is our freedom then if we are surrounded by a set of rules, traditions, doctrines and culture that gives us no choice but to join the herd? It is only in our ability to think freely when left to do so and to express our thoughts in speech or in writing. Is this possible with the quick pace of life that surrounds all of us? Whether you are working, have a family to look after or single the daily chores and technology all stand in the way of our freedom of speech or writing. For example, once the television is on we hardly get the chance to speak together with our family nor write our thoughts. Time keeps slipping away like sand from between our hands.
Egyptian people went about their daily work never believing that they would witness such a day when the president of their county would be toppled down by his own people. The Egyptian never imagined that they possess such a power when united as a nation. The rumour of the revolution was buzzing in the air and in every house. All the youth were communicating via Facebook and knew about the day of the Revolution. Parents just thought that it would be crushed as last year in April 2010. It never occurred to them that this was for real; that the youth of the country have finally realized that they can unite and follow the Tunisians footsteps on their way to freedom.
This break out of the cycle of oppression, fear and abuse was never possible without the Tunisian Demo. It was neither a movie nor a novel, as it was real and live and the Tunisian were able by unity and determination to force their president to step down. Through media and satellite, the Egyptian people were able to learn a lesson from the Tunisian people that changed the history of their country. The Egyptians only had to watch TV or YouTube to know the truth. They no longer trusted their state TV that was like a blind screen holding them away from the true happenings in their own country. This false play could never go on, as there had to be an end to all the corruption that was occurring and going on for thirty years.
The brave youth went down to Tahrir square and remained there for 18 days in the cold weather. They even stood in the face of the thugs and policemen who attacked them with live ammunition and murdered 350 of them. This did not stop them from continuing and backing their cause till they reached their main goal which was that the former President Hosni Mubarek steps down.
“Wake-up Sherry, Wake-up. What’s wrong with you?” I suddenly woke up once again to find myself in a beautiful bedroom with sunlight coming in from the windows. I looked at the person who woke me up and realized that it was Tania, my sweet servant who was kind enough to wake me seeing that I had overslept. She prepared my bath and I took a shower and went downstairs to have breakfast. I asked Tania to bring me my breakfast in the garden. There I sat and started to contemplate the nightmare that I had experienced last night. I was in this country where everything was messy. People around me were all scared to talk or voice their views. They hardly had anything to eat and they could not buy any new clothes. They relied on what the rich people sometimes gave them.
There in the distance ran crowds of people calling for their lost freedom, humane salaries and an end to oppression. Bullets were shot, men and women were screaming. Later on they were praying and urging God to help them win. The day arrived when the miracle occurred and they almost touched their lost freedom. Their jubilation was in the air and joy and happiness fluttered all over the country. Preparations were made for voting for our new leader. Democracy at last and out of prison came people who we hardly used to see before. Their faces half covered in black and suffering and misery clouded all over their soul and complexion. Who are those citizens and do they represent us? Have we really attained our freedom or is it just an illusion that never came into being. It is like a miracle that we assumed was happening but alas, what we dreamt of was only a mirage. Anybody walking in the desert thirsty and hoping for a drop of water often sees water in the distance; however, it is not true. Real freedom and democracy is hard to achieve.
The morning sun broke out starting a new fresh day. The birds were chirping on the trees with a breeze that caresses whoever goes outside to witness the scene. Sherry woke up and started preparing for her morning walk. She could not miss her walk which she believes lifts her spirit and makes her feel alive. Her slender figure helped her move briskly along the lane. She was trying to think of her chores for this day. Life in this world went by in its natural pace. There was no tension, stress or deadlines to make one feel the need to hurry. Everybody around Sherry were finally free and this did not mean having no obligations, but it meant that they could work on their own pace and finish their duties taking whatever time was needed to finalize them.
Sherry thought again of her dream and the other world where people there created the means of their imprisonment and thus their loss of freedom. In this world women wore the darkest color that existed which is black. It is the colour of death and so they are meant to be non-existent in the outside world. The individual as a separate entity has no existence. They are all dressed the same and are taught to obey and cancel their brains. They live a life of servitude to the male figure whether a father, husband or brother. Why do they seek education since most of their life they will be involved in tasks that have nothing to do with what they studied or learnt in their childhood. When they are seen in the streets driving a car while they could hardly see the outside world, it makes her feel really perplexed on why do they actually leave their houses when they are so helpless and hardly could see their way to walk let alone drive. The whole issue is pathetic.
In this world people when realizing what they have to confront started complaining, demonstrating going on strikes, but with no avail. All their efforts were in vain and it became so disruptive to the whole country, as a lot of thugs took the chance to practice all their illegal acts in a place where peace and security were always fluttering all over the place. Those people who realized the truth and were not listened to felt as though they were being pushed underneath water and were suffocating. All their endeavour to keep afloat were in the form of constant taking to the streets; however, they finally could not keep up their struggle and found themselves immersed deep down in a prison that was worse than what they had lived in for thirty years.
Sherry suddenly decided to enjoy her new world where everything was peaceful and non-stressful. The whole country was divided into compounds that each had everything that the residents needed, stores, schools universities, pharmacies, malls and hospitals. Each compound had its own land area where they planted all the vegetables and fruit that they needed to survive. Work was conducted on-line and for certain hours and then the rest of the day people visited one another, exercised or just enjoyed their family life. All their faces were full of life and not one of them was frowning or unhappy. They had no televisions to hypnotise them or waste their time. Their time was precious and they really made the best of it. They had no traffic jams as they hardly needed to go outside their compounds except on certain days during the year where each compound had a festival and it displayed all the products that they excelled in. That is, each compound had its own speciality and they competed in perfecting what they manufactured. Families tended to live in the same compound and therefore there were always extra houses for grandchildren and their families.
Sherry felt that the earth was shaking under her and she was falling once again back into the nightmarish country that she detested where people were no longer civilized human beings but were holding rocks and stones in their hands and throwing them at each other. A lot of wounded people were scattered everywhere, girls were pulled from their hair and bullied. Men were bruised and tied with ropes and hurdled in front of the door to the Presidential Palace where they were kept till the police arrested them and were taken to jail. The irony was that they were the ones who were brutally hit and tortured and yet they were arrested and questioned by the police who finding them not guilty, set them free. What hurt Sherry was the horrible unfairness of the whole situation when those who attacked the others got away with their crimes and were not arrested. Ten people were murdered and the murderers were not caught or prosecuted! All this was too much for Sherry and she prayed to God to make her wake up once again and continue the rest of her life in her new world.
In this world there was no justice as what used to be called law no longer existed, free satellites were prohibited, and police were brutal with anybody who did not belong to the president’s group. They did not need to go to prison because their whole life was a huge prison. No one was allowed to object in any way, but everyone was expected to obey without questioning orders. The whole atmosphere was stifling to the extent that most people there were suffering from depression and hypertension.
Sherry waited too long for the nightmare to end, as she realized that her dream was the new world that she enjoyed living in for quite some time. It was the beautiful adorable paradise that is the ever and lasting world which we all want to jump in. It is the true free world where there are no dictators nor hunger, poverty, illiteracy or brutality. Where is this world and does it really exist?