Monday, February 14, 2011

Remembering the past as the future unfolds

For days I have sat here staring at a blank screen with no idea what to write. How do I express what I've seen in the past few weeks? How do I express how I feel, what I think? I have been remiss in uploading and publishing comments, news, anything.

Yesterday I stumbled upon Jehan Sadat's autobiography. Jehan was the wife of Anwar Sadat, the man who made peace with Israel and whose death left Hosni Mubarak in control of the country for the next thirty years. Somehow, the timing seems appropriate.

So far I've only read the first two chapters, where Jehan describes her husbands death, and then goes back to the beginning - growing up in Cairo. Some of the wonders she describes I've seen and wondered at myself: the oldest mosques, Coptic Cairo, Khan el-Khalili, the mix of modern and ancient, European and Egyptian.

Some of her memories are long gone, such as the Nile's annual flood, or watching the British move through the streets in their horse-drawn carriages.

But again, somehow the timing seems perfect. Now, as I prepare to go back to the beginning of what will be a new Egypt, I am remembering the sort of breathless awe with which I anticipated my first views of the city two and a half years ago. Part of me wishes I hadn't left in the middle of the Revolution, even though foreigners and journalists were being targeted. At the same time, I've always argued that one of the best parts about saying goodbye is that you get to say hello again. When I return to Cairo I will not only be saying hello again, to the city and to friends who have become like family, but I will be returning home to the beginnings of a new city.

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