Thursday, May 26, 2005

El Nas el Soghayara

It's very interesting how you only ever feel/discover ur bruises the very next day.
And how in exploring the bruises, and the different levels of hurt and pain associated with them that you start to recall and realize the sort of experiences you've had that lead to them.
And only then that you re-experience the whole experience...
and all the feelings you stashed away come out; demanding to be dealt with, and all those you overlooked, tugging at your sleeve..

"Putting your foot down", has alot of images and associations with it.
I autmatically imagine; feet placed firmly on the ground, back straight, and the occasional raf raf of the 3alam in teh background.
Strong in intent, true to a cause, fighting for what you believe in.
You imagine honor, dignity, truth, 'peace of mind' and often even triumph.

Attempt to put our feet down yesterday however, was much less romantic.
It involved alot of fear, humiliation, shock, dissapointment, and often even disdain.
The honor, dignity, truth, and peace were alot of the time completely lost in the din.
And at times i felt i wanted to physically hide them away inside me , when i was suddenly in a situation where none of that existed.

There's a small acute ball of panic inisde me that keeps threatening to surface.
It comes out as i remember thinking
"they won't hurt us. they won't hurt us. they won't hurt us.."when i saw bitterness and hatred and a sort of 'happy' rage in the eyes of an opponent i had never developed.
When i keep remembering that hte people that were most intent in hurting me, were the at one point the main drive behind which i felt i needed to put my foot down, to demand a system that served us all well.

It threatens to come out as i remember the sight of the members of the labor party taht were dragged away infront of us by teh baltageyya, one carried away with two men holding him the arms, two others carryign him by the legs, pullting his legs apart occasionaly as they ran with him..
another slapped on the head,teh face, the neck, the head teh chest, as they dragged him along..
adn another, and another..
and that was before anythign every happened..
when we were looking for the international media.. making sure they were filming.. how did they somehow become our source of justice and salvation?

when the pro-mubarak army, first showed up large in number, dinasour like in sound and movement.. threatening to trample us..
Although later on saneyya was saying over and over
"Kanno keteer awey.. 7asesuna enenna mahzumeen, ennenna mo7awteen..."
i don't think that's why our cry's might have been quieter, our silences longer..
nor was it the fact that we were corndered they were right infront of us, the wall right behind us, and amn el dawla right beside us..
i think it was more about the shock..
it's one thing to fight the state.. to fight el 'amn'.. it's another to fight a group of unemployed completely maqhureen civilians.. the true victimes of the system... how did we happen to be on diff sides..??
how was all their rage suddenly directed at us?!
Suddenly they were jumping on cars, and grabbing our fliers and tearing them, calling us '3omala2 amerikan..'
and shouting "Hosniiiii hosniii..." like some sort of Ariel commercial.
It was enough to completely take ur breath away. completely.

At a later point in the day, when on a felucca, recounting the events of the day, particularly our attempts or non attempts to vote.. the felucca sailor asked us if we were talking about the voting that took place that day..
could we please explain what the red circle and what the green circle stood for?
he was forced to vote, he adn the rest of the crew, and chose the green as it seemed a more positive thing to do..
what was it?
Later on and after a thorough conversation, he explained how the government/state gets its say in whatever it wants..
"Awel marra fe 7ayaty yekhayaruney..
we lamma khayaruna.. khayaruna bel3afya..."
We spoke of rights, of strife, of working for and against waht they believe in and against..
how it was OUR country.. and 'they' were a ruling minority...
"e7na nas soghayareen... wel nas el soghayareen maye2darush ye3melu 7aga..."We spoke of how MANY nas soghayaereen we were, how imp i twas to realize we COULD do something..

He pointed at a far away bridge.. asrn el nil... 6th of october?
and described a group of 'small people' who had decided to stand up for something they believed in. They marched away from their university, and unto the the bridge, and were shot and pushed off the bridge..
one by one they fell off the bridge into the water..
one by one..
his hands still pointint out to the bridge, his eyes tracing their journey from the very top to the veyr bottom..

There was a breif excitement wa2t el hetafat when they were loud and strong indicating each and every thing we had had 'enough' of..
hosni mubarak, tazwir aswat, as3ar mortafe3a, fasad, fat-hi surur, el baltageyya...
it went on and on, where people pitched in with everything and anything they had had enough of, and everyone would shout in unison

Then teh panic comes once again at the image of the Watany dogs slowly trickling between the walls of the security and unto the stairs of neqabet el sa7afeyeen, slowly slowly moving up a step at a time, growing in number and magntitude...
as we simultaneously realized that the neqaba would let us in..
again no place to go, and such hatred and intent to hurt rising up against you..
Eventually they told us we needed to jump off the side, the amn would help us down..
the amn would take care of us..
bring us down they did.

The feelings, sights, experiences and events that followed were ones that were truly horrific.
more now than they were then.
and every one of us with as little or much damage as we experienced then, emerged MUCH luckier, than many other that day..
we had not experienced improsenment, or tht 'extent' of humiliation that other girls and other guys experienced. nevertheless, there was humiliaton, dissappointment, and betrayal.

Later on at night nora and i met with Seif el Islam of Hisham Mubarak law office..
suddenly someone 'good'. literally a 'good guy' hehe
someone who was fighting for the right of others, pushing for people's safety and well being, trying to make sure they got their due.. he was very refreshing.
he was also very experienced, very knowledgable, very aware of all the events that surrounded us, and all that was behind each and every event.
he helped close all the loops, fill the gaps and wholes and straighten some of the question marks that lingered in our heads. and he did it with a kindness and gentless that was unlike anything else we experienced all day. so warm keda...
being htere was almost like being in a hug. suddenly safe. suddenly 'trust'.
Nora tells me later on of Seif's story, his attempt to bring about to change, to push for htings as they should be.. to put his own foot down..
and the 5 years of torture he experienced upon his arrest.. stories i had not even imagined possible..

So alot of goodness, CAN come out of alot of pain nad humiliation and betrayal..
he studied law while in jail, and cna now help all those who fight for what they believe in, and attempts to save them from all he himself had experienced in the process...
his pain is constructive.. and he emerged out of it a garden.
so warm. like a hug.

After that, we attended a meeting for all those that were arrested and let out that day..
they were all so positive and so light keda. like it was 'all in a day's protest.. and i don't think it was about them being used to it.. it was about it being necessary... no struggle is easy.. no change comes with out 'naz3' and 'neza3'.
a representative of the labor party was there.. and he spoke of unity adn solidarity, of the need for creativity adn presistance and togetherness.. of ugly days to come..
bas of the ugliness being our way through a dark and dreary tunnel, and our only way unto the light..

i do feel bad. i do.
i feel like there's alot of ugly inside.
bas i have no regrets.
and that in itslef produces alot of guilt for all that i had not realy experienced. that i had not seen many levels and extents that others had..

Mr. Seif was telling us that a woman (passerby) who had been stripped by the watani dogs (she was a student going up to thte syndicate to attend the course) was hysterical, and crying
"dee mesh masr! mesh masr dee!"
as she recounted her experience to him.. how el amn let her into the syndicate and 'released' 5/6 guys after her..
they pounced on her harassed her and stripped her on teh stairs up tot eh syndicate before someone could grab her up adn out..
and i could relate..
i could relate when telling myself..
"e7na fe masr... they won't hurt us when they come realy close.. afterall, we've never done anything to them..."
the fact that i was a 'girl' was also somehow encouraging me to be patient and strong. they wouldn't realy hurt us. they wouldn't.
irnoically enough the very same thing i told myself in 1998 in the very first protest i attended, adn right before amn el dawla were given the signal to ram us to teh ground.

:) how did it happen again??

stragnely enough this time, i emerged iwth a stronger sense of ownership..
it's mine. we mesh 7asebhalko.
an amazing sense of solidarity.
it was so beautiful to be there with friends.
there is definately a sense of togetherness in ebing in a protest and finding so much in common.. int erms of feeligns and emotions and stances with all those that surround you, regardless of ur differences.
but there's an ultimate "SOLIDarity" in being there with friends..
knowing someone will watch over you and watching over people...

having people to reflect with, on all that is beautiful on all that is ugly..
finding people like Mr Seif to resort to when the 'trust' is suddenly lost, and where there was once warmth adn peace and 'intent' there's suddenly alot of cold air passing in and and out.

my bruises still hurt, my feet don't feel as planted as they should be.. but my intent is strong i guess..
more than that, i feel like part of soemthing so much bigger and stronger and better.. i feel like i'm realy truly honestly fighting for something htat is worthwhile, and it is not i or the cause i wish to fight for that inspires or drives me,... but all the people that were with me..
and the dignity adn truness and stregnth adn courage, that they have shown in the face of the ugliness..
it is that that gives me stregnth..

There was Nora, and Dina, and Zeinab, and Yasso, and Mongy, Samer, Rabab and also Marwa and salma...
I may not have my feet firmly on the ground khales, bas i felt all teh stregnth and truness and determination and honor and dignity through them..
and honestly, at this phase of thought and experience, they are the positive aspects of yesterday's experience..
the humour and the humility adn ketir the courage thruogh all the mental and physical turbulence..

there's such a stregnth in togetherness and truness of intent..
betatgha 3ala ay 7aga.. and it realy makes el nas el soghayarra.. kebira awey..


R said...

Great great text. Honest and true, enlightened and insightful.

I linked to it and it has been circulating by emails.

Let me know how we can help to prevent this from happening again.

Owen Beith said...

Admirable bravery

حـدوتـة said...

Alia's article in Arabic:

Ma3t said...

I know this is just so late, and u might not even check it, but i only just discovered ur blog el naharda

And now i know , i actually know u

When u first wrote " el nas el soghayara" , my mom brought it to me. i read it, and cried
It was a stressful time, full of fear, and a suffocating sadness , but ur words, which were very personal to me, since some of them were about my father, were like a fleeting touch of warmth, and though i didn't know u then, i was glad there people out there like u

Alia said...

You know it has been some time, bas now that i too know YOU, it means so much more to hear it :)
And i am all the happier to have written it, in thinking it somehow reached you then. I also actually owe the experience to your own existance, sa7? ;)
Funny funny world..
betleff, tleff...