My parents were the only dentist and pediatrician in town, and so we were the only Egyptian family. The news was already circulating weeks before our arrival.
My mother couldn’t bear seeing her daughter weeping and standing helpless. Meanwhile she could do nothing for real. They both had a contract with the hospital, so we would be locked in this place at least for a year. Patience was all we could afford. Mother had to be creative, and think of any possible way to comfort me, or at least help me with sever boredom.
I accompanied her to the infirmary, her first day was hilarious, I was stupid enough not to enjoy the sarcasm. She couldn’t understand a word from her patients, and the patients who did their best to mimic the Egyptian accent they see on TV couldn’t do anything either. although both sides are Arabic natives. Later we discovered that the huge flow of patients was nothing but curiosity from the locals to see the new doctor. That was their way of saying Hi and Welcome.
My mother was officially the pediatrician, and then she found herself the doctor of females and pediatrics and simply she couldn’t say no.
After hours of struggle with language, mother called for a translator, and here came Samira. She was from the town but lived abroad for a couple of years, and had many Egyptian friends. she was also very funny and comforting for me. She promised I will find happiness and many friendships here. I didn’t believe her at all.
School was the worst. Aside from being the only Egyptians, my sister and I were totally lost. Sister was in the first primary year, and although I was in my last year of middle school, my class was the highest level in school. They couldn’t afford high school classes, and you guessed it, of course, that school was the only one in town.
Our presence was anticipated. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel welcomed, we felt intruded. The welcoming style was heavier and wormer that we couldn’t tolerate.
I was showered with endless questions ‘’ where exactly you are from Egypt? How much your parents get paid? How many siblings you have? Oh my God you are only three?! How come? Your parents never wished to make more babies?’’ and many more parachuting questions.
I couldn’t answer the most, but none of them gave me the chance to ask for privacy, or build any kind of borders.
Their extreme curiosity masked their kindness and purity.
My uneasiness of coping with classmates gave me a bad reputation. I was the antisocial arrogant Egyptian who sleeps all the day.
Some of the girls reacted to my attitude by mocking me all the time. I gave them the most careless reactions, because in fact, I didn’t understand most of the jokes said behind my back.
I waited for every stupid class to end, and when they did I could finally rest my head on the desk, enclose it with my arms and start dreaming.
They thought I was asleep, I never took midday naps, not until after college, but I found myself an escape by day dreaming.
I imagined another place, different uniform, real education and after school activities. I felt way behind, when my mind set me on a tough comparison with what so called normal.
My dreams were simple, but reflecting back on them now, I lost the most precious thing I had that time; the present moment.
The bright side of being mocked, was that I started to give them some attention, eventually picked the accent. It was a twisted authentic Arabic with drop out of some letters.
I surprised them once by raising my head and coping with the mocking by their accent, the girl was very embarrassed, and blushed, then I looked at her and gave her that face that reflected ‘’it’s ok, I am enjoying this and yes I can speak like you’’ and the whole class burst into laughs.
In the break, I could see my sister clearly between the crowd, a reddish very healthy girl, who always seemed disoriented, and refused to communicate with anyone in school except me, and I was the extremely protective old sister.
My brother had a fierce battle of his own, in boy’s school. With sexually abusing classmates, and violent teachers who always thought of him as the troublemaker, and of course he was, because he was the stranger. It’s a human nature.
The proper way of punishing was by hitting with a wooden stick on hands. My brother was strong and stubborn; he refused to be punished without a reason.
Food was another story. When we first came, there was a bakery shop that closed its doors two weeks after our arrival. Locals baked their own bread, and so we had to make our own. The only grocery in town provided brown flour only; we couldn’t withstand the flavor at the beginning especially with homemade bread. Mum took her time learning, and we took our time to accept the change.
The rough long road made it only possible to supply the store with vegetables and fruits once a week. And when they arrived they were in mess.
Adapting to such place took us a long time. My parents weren’t helpful, they were in trouble themselves. The hospital manager or the only resident doctor before we arrive was the boss in every possible way. He and his wife acted like they were the king and queen of the vale.
As Egyptians we’re dealing with a mental pathology inherited in our genes thousands of years ago. The curse of the pharos is not what everyone believes it to be. It’s us, and our arrogant nature. The way we like to capture things and keep it for solely advantage. We fight each other. We hate each other, and paradoxically, we think that the whole world is envying us. The whole world is busy planning crisis for us. So, we become busy hating everyone else, it’s in our nature, it’s irreversible, incurable.
My parents had to deal with this man and his wife, or maybe that’s what we wanted to believe, who knows. Maybe they were nice but we were the pharos, who believed everyone else is envying them, and busy planning us troubles.
But no, I might also be wrong. He didn’t like my father, nor did his wife. They wanted to remain the only high educated amiable people in the town. When we came we stole the lights, because we went to school with the town’s children. My mother was examining the sick children, and hell my mother was too sweet not to be unlike. My father is the most comforting dentist in the world, he says no to work, very kind, very likable. So stealing lights was instant and easy, but it was also never intended.