Written by Alaa (aka Lols)
Previously on Decisions in a Halo:
The morning atmosphere was vibrant in downtown Cairo although the winter chill was at its peak that week, with temperatures reaching as low as 15o C according to the National Egyptian Weather Agency. Winds carried up speed as they passed through the city’s once upon a time warmth during the winter season. Nevertheless, the sun made its way through the grey clouds that clustered above the old western inspired buildings of downtown Cairo. If one had time living in Cairo, they’d be able to notice the history that almost speaks out when they look at the buildings and the streets of downtown. The French/English dominated architecture speaks of a time where Egypt was considered a modern, sophisticated country. One would feel the intensity of how modern day Egypt and old westernized Egypt meet, a clash of two eras that speak differently of the country as well as show how different everything can look in a span of 60 years, either to better or worse. In the heart of downtown, the Cairenes went by their daily activities, unnoticing of the history they pass every day, of the story that was left forgotten and unfinished and the meaning of the phrase “take it easy”. They seemed to be running everywhere (as usual) trying to reach their jobs and their meetings (rarely on time of course; for most Egyptians are known to have “different” standards of time). The streets were already packed with cars and honks that bounced off the nearby buildings and were sent audible through the airwaves.
Staring at the buildings, at the people and admiring how alive Cairo seems- by day as by night- Salma Al-Maleb sipped her coffee as the taxi driver took her through downtown to the headquarters of her current employment, Al-Masry Al-Youm in Garden City, where she was practically “the rock star” of the newspaper. Salma, in a few short years, had managed to become one of the well-known and respected political analysts in Egypt; something she was fondly proud of since she majored neither in politics or journalism. Her aptitude and skills show in her writings through her witty and sharp observance of any situation, her quick analysis and use of logic; transmitting the latter in simple words understandable to both educated and non-educated Egyptians and you get yourself a winning and successful column. Aside from a successful career, Salma also married a man who’s willing to bring her the moon and stars, although they never started out as lovers per se. It’s all a complicated matter, one that belongs in the past that she doesn’t want to remember but she is thankful for him, for Karim.
“I don’t know how our economy could be this bad if all these people on the streets are going to their jobs!” protested the taxi driver. Salma smiled and focused on her thoughts. It was more complicated than just people crowding the streets and slacking off on their jobs. Major players were involved in everything that went wrong with politics; international interference, internal liaisons and interests, a tug-a-war of power and sovereignty. That’s what her job was all about; transferring these concepts in a simple matter to the ordinary Egyptian, so that he/she could understand the way things revolve around their country.
After what felt like an eternity, Salma arrived at Al-Masry Al-Youm’s headquarters. Thanking the driver with a big tip and a delicate smile, she walked into the building and up to her office. Meanwhile, a car stopped by not far from where Salma exited the taxi. A man was surveying her.
“So let me get this clear; Fady is actually here in Cairo under the radar trying to look for Salma?” asked Ibrahim as he stopped at a red light in what looked to be another horrible traffic jam. Samir nodded while reading today’s issue of Al-Ahram.
“But that doesn’t make any sense…I mean for all we know, she could be married, engaged”
“A possibility, yes but you see, Fady never actually went by the rules,” Samir folded the paper and focused his attention on Ibrahim “He thinks that by reaching out to her, he could make amends of his past mistakes and if she turns out to be still on the market, then he would consider pursuing their relationship from where they left off”
“Then why call me? He sounded like he wanted to kill himself or something…” said Ibrahim as he stirred the car away from a bump on the road.
“Two points that answer your question; first one, Fady will never risk us meeting him because he needs to deal with one problem at a time. I haven’t talked or met the guy for nearly 5 years now and from what you’ve told me, you don’t know anything about him for quite some time as well”
“Yeah, almost as long as you”
“Exactly and of course, Salma was off his radar say…the same time span as we were. Which brings you to point number two, he will definitely throw us off track so we could go looking for him and he’d be left in peace mending things with Salma. Once that’s done and over with, he’ll patch things up with the rest” finished Samir.
“Sounds like an awful lot of trouble to get to someone. Why not just call her, meet with her… or just, call her?!”
“I wouldn’t want to think that after all those years; he’ll patch things up with his ex-fiancée over the phone. He never liked phone calls.”
And that much was true. Fady never had a liking to phone calls, having most of them last between 30 seconds and 7 minutes (if the matter was urgent). If it happened that a call went over the known range- and that only occurred when he used to talk to Salma, it was basically because he was just listening to Salma go on about her day, her various gossips and talks. The remainder of the trip to Maadi was silent between the friends, broken by the background music of Cairo’s 104.2 Nile FM. The two friends were on the way to see an integral personality within the group, one that Samir holds dear to his heart till this very day. After an hour or two in Cairo’s morning traffic, the Peugeot 506 arrived at its destination. They arrived at one of Cairo’s fanciest areas; Al Maadi, precisely at Maadi Sarayat where villas of diplomats, embassies and plain rich people who can afford it, existed in a splendor that immediately takes you away from Egypt’s more rough nature. With trees and patches of green adorning the area, it was far from being called Egyptian. After parking the car a few streets away from where they were supposed to go, the two friends arrived at a small villa across from the Mexican Ambassador’s house: Villa no. 3/12.
“Weird number” remarked Samir as he rang the doorbell underneath a sign that read “T Shoes”. After a minute or so passed, the door buzzed open and the two gentlemen went inside the lobby. It was a sophisticated reception with an L shaped black couch with an oval glass coffee table. Magazines and newspapers were spread across it for visitors to enjoy reading while waiting for their appointment. The walls were painted white with extravagant detailed markings of flowers sprouting onto them from the ground up and across. There was a staircase leading to an upper floor where telephones rang, keyboard buttons clicked and people could be heard discussing deadlines and contracts. A few plants decorated the lobby that somehow broke the monochrome vibe the place had going on.
“Good Morning. How may I help you?” said the receptionist, flashing a welcoming smile.
“Hi. We’re here to see Sarah Al Tomoom. We’re friends of hers” said Ibrahim before a muffled shout broke through the closed door behind the receptionist’s desk. Samir raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry but Ms. Sarah won’t be seeing anyone today,” the sound of a breaking vase interrupted the poor girl who flinched “She has a lot on her schedule today”
“But this is a matter of urgency. Can you just please tell her that Mr. Ibrahim and Prof. Samir are waiting to- Samir, what are you doing?”
Samir, intrigued to see what has become of his “petite chère”, opened the door to Sarah’s office and ducked as a mug flew over his head.
“Just in time” he thought out loud, “I see you’re doing well, S”
Sarah Al Tomoom stood panting with her brown eyes fired up with rage from behind her chic red framed glasses. A few strands of dark brown hair were hanging down her face and with her short stature (compensated by 11 inch heels) she looked like a cat in rage. But upon seeing Samir standing at the door (with one eyebrow raised) and Ibrahim who took shelter behind his friend, Sarah straightened herself up, pushed back her hair from her face and adjusted her dark grey blazer.
“Couldn’t be better…I don’t want to talk about it. So what do you guys think of my office?” asked Sarah, a wide grin plastered on her face.
Your comments are most welcomed
As always, the Cairo Contra team encourages the interaction between the readers and the team itself. What did you think of today’s events in the lives of the Gang’s members? Who is your favorite character so far? Who do you relate to the most? I can’t wait to read your comments!
Until next time!