Written by Alaa (aka Lols)
Fady was sitting in his car just outside the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences in Cairo University. The guards at the main gates would usually give anyone who wanted to drive in a hassle and refuse their entry on campus with a car (without a permit) but with Fady’s power of persuasion (usually a crunched up 20-25 Egyptian Pounds in the guards’ hands), he was able to drive all the way to the prestigious faculty and park in front of it. He had a secret agenda; after all, it’s been ages since he graduated from the University (Fady studied Law). Fady was waiting for his “childhood best friend” to come out of the building.
Last they met; Fady and Samir Tabarem didn’t leave things between them on a good note. Quite frankly, Samir didn’t give much chance to Fady to fix their broken friendship. Requesting his help in bringing back the remaining pieces of his life together, Fady had been glad that he was sitting again with his best friend. However, the economics professor refused to help him out and gave him the coldest shoulder anyone had ever given him. It was understandable though. Five years or so ago, Fady sort of shun Samir out of his life. He didn’t remember why he did it but all he knows now is that he regrets it more than ever. He missed his best friend and needed him.
After spending the night stalking Salma’s husband, Fady decided he needed some time to check up on his friend, even if it was from afar. He took a shower, had a quick breakfast (with lots of caffeine), went to the university and waited. He brought along one of Samir’s favorite books; the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series. Fady was never the reader type but as he wanted to hold on to whatever connects him to Samir; he decided to give it a read. However, a few pages in, Fady gave up on the whole idea. Words and literature weren’t his strongest assets at all. Instead, he read the newspaper (Salma’s opinion column was the first piece of journalism he always started with) and listened to music. Just around noon, Fady decided to stretch his legs a bit.
The Cairo University campus is known to be massive for a government owned space and somehow, very well structured and organized. One thing one needs to know about Cairo University is that “everyone” is there; from the simple and the sophisticated, to the rich, the poor, the barely-going-by, the farmer and the “westernized”. All walks of life literally walk along the streets of the massive campus.
Fady however wasn’t focused much on the masses of students (a couple was sitting on a bench on “Love Road”, making out in plain sight) coming and going, but rather on the memories that lived on in this place. The times he spent with Salma walking her to and from her classes at the Faculty of Archeology, the grounds he and Samir used to cover during their recruitment tours for their student activity, the many classes he used to ditch with Nevine and Karim and instead spent in front of “3asfoor el Canary” kiosk (eating shawerma and Syrian made potatoes); a flood of memories came rushing back to Fady, making him occasionally smile as he passed through the many corners of the Egyptian campus.
Reminiscing and living his past years took out an hour or two from his time. Looking at his watch, Fady went back to his parked car in front of the Faculty. He decided to give the book another try till it was time for Samir to show his face and eventually, he did. Uncontrollably, Fady smiled when he saw him from afar. He was a professor; the way he walked, the way he dressed, the way he looked with his salt and pepper Douglas beard and bowtie. Samir was talking to a colleague and seemed to be engaged in a very lively conversation which gave Fady some time to pluck up the courage and go talk to his best friend.
Nervously, Fady waited underneath a tree till the short woman Samir was talking to left. Samir was about to go back inside when Fady called out his name. Recognizing the voice, Samir rolled his eyes and turned to face his longtime friend.
“What?” he said.
“Good afternoon to you too” answered Fady, a nervous smile on his face.
Samir crossed his arms and stood there, a frown now plastered on his forehead.
“Look, I know you’re mad and frustrated and a whole lot of angry at me but you need to hear me out, Samir. I’ve been going through- “
“Save it, Fady!” snapped Samir, “I told you before and I’ll say it again; I don’t care what happened to you or what is happening to you. You were a jackass to me countless times and now it’s my turn to return the favor. Simple as that”
“No it’s not simple because we’re friends, Samir! We’ve been friends ever since we could talk and this means something to me. Come on, don’t you remember the plans we had? How we were going to grow old and make a fool of ourselves just to embarrass our grandkids? I know you’re still thinking about it!” Fady knew how dear that memory was to Samir and was counting on it being so still. He could have sworn he saw Samir’s face loosen up a bit at its mention.
“Well, I would be lying if I said I haven’t…back then. Now, what you’re telling me is a kid’s faith in something called everlasting friendship. You, Mr. Ibrosen, showed me how this concept is nothing but utter and complete shit. If this memory or vision still exists, it is buried somewhere neither I or you can reach and I like it to stay that way”
“Samir, please” pleaded Fady, his heart growing hollowed and heavier by every word spoken from Samir, “I need you as my friend again. I swear I’ve changed but please don’t…don’t turn your back on me. I don’t have anyone left anymore”
Samir stared at his friend for what seemed to be forever, his green eyes colder than how Fady remembered them to be. Eventually, Samir turned around and went inside without a single word, leaving behind a more broken Fady.