Written by Alaa (aka Lols)
5 years later…
“Professor, there’s someone on line 1 for you. He says it’s important” said the young research assistant as she entered the office. The professor was busy having his head buried in one of the oldest economic textbooks he could find – since his research was mainly to explore the old history of economics and try to find solutions for recent evolution and economic disarrays.
“Tell them I’ll call back, Laila. I’m on to something here”
The young Laila left the office and headed back to her desk.
“I’m sorry Mr. Fady but the professor can’t get to the phone right now. He’s a bit busy with some work he has. Those were his exact words, sir. Can I take a number? Oh. Sure, I’ll tell him you called. Have a nice day.”
Laila hung up the telephone, tied her hair up in a bun, took her pencil and notepad and went to her professor’s aid. When he’s on to something; that means it’s going to be a long day.
Salma was standing in the rain, her umbrella held firmly in her hands. It was raining yet again in the city of Cairo. Winter has hit the country very bad this year; so much for “a perfect hot weather in summer and a warm, cozy one in winter”. Salma passed her hands over her black well-kept hair just to make sure that it was still holding, all the while looking at the people running back and forth on the wet crowded street. Some people gathered under a tree while they waited for the bus. Others ran to their destinations or until they found shelter from the icy water.
The streets of Cairo were starting to overflow with cars, with the water covering the whole asphalt, traffic movement was going to be worse than it already is since the drainage system –if one existed- was poorly in use and the streets, along with a massive count of cars, were overflowing with water now. Forgetting all about the drainage system, the people and the cars, what really brought a skip to Salma’s heart were the porters’ kids from neighboring buildings. They were running in the rain, holding out their tongues and playing around with not a single care to the world given. They shouted, they screamed, they kicked in puddles and they pushed each other around. To be young again with nothing to worry about! Where’s a time machine when you need one? Salma thought as a chuckle escaped her lips.
She checked her watch and tapped her right foot nervously. She hated waiting; first of all because of the many trails of thoughts that seem to just sprout out of nowhere (they gave her a headache), and second because it’s rude to make a woman wait on the streets, let alone wait on Cairo’s streets. However, her mind wasn’t actually pursuing the latter one at all. She was more focused on how her life turned out to be the way it is right now. Curious to say, it wasn’t actually planned out to be this way; not one tiny bit.
She never imagined herself as someone who would matter in this country, someone to whom people would listen to and wait for her column in Al-Masry Al-Youm, one of the country’s up and rising independent newspaper (and one of the most influential as well). She never would have imagined that she would become the Salma Al-Maleb, one of the most successful political analysts in Egypt. And she didn’t even major in journalism or even politics. But what she went through was enough for her to changer her perspective of herself, to start exploring new sides to her she didn’t realize existed within her and to become that person, to become who she was meant to be and find her true destiny in a place she never envisioned to be her life.
My life is good…yeah….it is, one final thought crossed her mind before a car horn brought her back to reality. She smiled and went to get in the car with her husband, Karim to celebrate their two year anniversary.
Ibrahim and his fiancée, Nevine were busy making their fifth tour round the stores to buy new stuff for their soon to be finished new home. They were preparing the house where they will finally get to start their own family.
“I know it’s the fifth time, dear but come on. You wouldn’t want me to become a bridezilla now, would you?” said Nevine as she got out of the car and batted her eyelashes at her fiancé who laughed.
“No sweetheart. I love you the way you are, thank you very much”
They held hands and walked inside one of Egypt’s grandest shopping malls, City Stars. Leagues and leagues of stores; clothes, furniture, restaurants, shoes, were just standing there waiting to be visited. The couple was as happy as they could ever be. They checked left, right, up and down for everything Nevine wanted. Ibrahim didn’t hesitate to follow. All he cared about was his love’s happiness and comfort. They laughed, joked around and enjoyed their time checking this item and that item off of their wedding list.
5 years ago, you wouldn’t have recognized the happy lovers enjoying their time together. Between one fight and another, a third one seemed to appear in the middle out of nowhere. The situation was so complex that both of them lost sight of one another for some time. Ibrahim loved her dearly. Nevine was ready to give her life to him. He was afraid of commitment, afraid of losing her if they ever got serious and afraid she’ll never adapt to his lifestyle. She, on the other hand, couldn’t stand his lack of faith in their relationship and his lack of trust in her love for him. At some point, Ibrahim used to treat her more as a best friend than a love interest. Until that one night, when he saw her with her ex in the club, he thought it was over. But that was all in the past. The present is happiness and the future is hopeful and joyous. He should focus more on her laughter, on her happiness and on her being by his side in his life.
His cellphone vibrating brought a halt to his train of thoughts. The number was unfamiliar to him. He looked at Nevine as she examined a china set. Feeling his gaze on her, she looked up with her green watery eyes hiding behind glasses and blew him a kiss. He smiled and answered the call.
“Alo? Who is this? … Fady?”
Fady Ibrosen was a mess. He stared out to the open sea ahead of him. Ugly and useless, he said to himself. He looked at the mountains that were on the edge of that open blue sea. Soon enough you’ll crumble and become nothing but dust, he thought. He dragged on his last smoke in the pack. The once smart looking, intelligent and healthy Fady had transformed into a depressed and careless human being. He literally didn’t care for anything else in the world.
5 years ago, he lost everything. He now had nothing to make his life worthy of his existence. He wanted to punish himself for being a jackass, to take out all the pain he inflicted on those he loves the most on himself. It was working pretty well. 3 years ago, he finished college, took whatever he had of his savings and family’s money (before his parents cut him off) and moved to a beach house he had recently bought in Sharm El-Sheikh by the Red Sea. Neither his family nor friends (the ones he was still in contact with) knew of his whereabouts. He changed his cell phone number and stopped logging onto his Facebook account.
Now, he was an unemployed law degree holder living off his savings. He didn’t care much about being that person. He was living on cigarettes and sometimes alcohol to help with the numbing and forgetting. He also used to call the occasional escorts to make him realize how a complete waste he is from time to time. One fateful night, Fady woke up in the middle of the night crying his heart out.
“Where did I go wrong?” he shouted, “Why me!?”
Fady looked into the bathroom mirror and didn’t recognize himself anymore. Instead of his smart dark eyes, a reddish gaze, hollow from life and purpose stared back at him. His face was now bony and covered with a thick layer of beard. He had dark circles around his eyes. With the face of sorrow and misery staring back at him, Fady screamed and broke the mirror with his hands. The pain didn’t seem to entice his will to live. Nothing was worth living for especially after deserting the love of his life. He went out of the bathroom deep in a trance, sobbing silently. He went down the stairs into the living room where stacks upon stacks of Al-Masry Al-Youm lay by the corner. His eyes catch sight of the photos that adorn the mantelpiece in the living room of his beach house (which was nearly unfurnished with only a couch occupying the middle of the living room, a mattress in his room and some food in the kitchen with just the basics). They were the only thing he made sure were complete and there, a reminder of good times and good people he let slip away.
In the first frame stood Samir Tabarem who is now a professor at Cairo University at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Ibrahim Romad who is a Senior Credit Analyst at Credit Agricole and Karim Imnan, who was now a hot shot lawyer in one of the law firms in Cairo. All three of them looked at him laughing. Another photo of Nevine Ladaghi, Salma Al-Maleb and Sarah Al-Tomoom (a friend of theirs who left the country some time back with her father on a business trip) posed to the camera with the famous duck pout. I let it all go to waste, he thought as he dialed Samir’s office number. He held another picture of Salma in his hand, one that she had given him when they were together, as tears fell down on it.
“Hi, this is Fady Ibrosen, a friend of Professor Tabarem’s. Can I speak to him please? It’s rather important. Don’t tell him who’s calling. I’ll hold”
It would be so good to hear his voice again.
So consumed by what has happened to him, Fady saw his friendship with Samir, his childhood best friend, demolish before his eyes. He willingly just lost contact with him because of a hurtful truth he came to know. But that was all in the past. He missed Samir. He needed Samir so much every day. The woman’s voice rang through the silence.
“That’s what he said? No, that won’t be necessary. Thank you.”
Fady wept silently as he took Salma’s photo and went outside to the terrace. It was nightfall. The sky was a clear dark blue with stars spread across it like a diamond covered blanket. The moon was full and high up in the sky. He walked to the small wooden dock in front of his house. The sea was rather calm that night. This time, he dialed Ibrahim’s number and waited.
“My life is ruined. I ruined my life with my own hands. It’s over for me” said Fady as he dropped his cellphone with Ibrahim’s voice audible through the silence calling out his name.
Fady took one last look at Salma’s photo and jumped in the water holding it to his chest. Bubbles kept rising to the calm salty surface of the sea until they were no more.
Your comments are most welcomed
As always, the Cairo Contra team encourages the interaction between the readers and the team itself. If you have any comments or opinions regarding today’s entry in the “Decisions in a Halo” story line, I can’t wait to read them.
Until next time!