Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I’m Supposed to Use these Maps as a Prompt (by Ahmed Teleb)


Another writing exercise. Just another Monday night. We’re supposed to use these printed computer maps of “Beacon Hills” from various American cities.

What about the Revolution? What about the streets I began to grow up on? My grandfather liked to walk—a lot. He and I would walk all over the city when I was eight, when I was eleven, mostly east to west and back.

Tahrir (Liberation), Ramses, Mirghani
Mirghani, the Girls’ College, Alhorriyya (Freedom)
Alhorriyya, Omar Ibn Alkhhattab, Aabas Alaaqad
Aabas Alaaqad, Alaarooba (Arabism), Sixth of October,
Sixth of October, Salah Salem, Aabasia,
Aabasia, Ramses, Tahrir,
The Girls’ College, Oman Ibn Alkhattab, Horriyya, Heliopolis,
Masr Algadida (New Egypt), Aabas Alaaqad, the Citadel,
6th of October, 23rd of July, 1st of February?

Our family, my aunts, my uncle, my parents, would call us crazy

resigned, in agony
hurt, heart-broken
unhappy, afraid
cautious, frantic
longing, desiring
envious, ashamed
guilty, guilty
insecure, overwhelmed
agitated, reluctant
resistant, alarmed
skeptical, incredulous
surprised, surprised
exhausted, weary
arrogant and grouchy
prickly, concerned
cross, enraged
turbulent, confused
uncertain, in pain
elated, excited
jubilant, overjoyed
ecstatic, in cheer
contented, good-humored
absorbed yet relieved
eager, invigorated
curious, amazed
proud, expectant
playful, upbeat
Tahrir means Liberation
Ramses another Page

I grew up on the corner of Althawra (The Revolution), Alhorriyya (Freedom), and Almirghani (Who was he anyway? An Italian?), around the corner from the Girls’ College.  Is that why I’ve always been so rebellious and subversive? Is that why reading those Constitutional Law cases in law school made me so sick to my stomach?

I checked-in with Cairo, as I’ve done every day this week, they say they’re fine.
They feel safe enough, they say, to walk in the March of a Million the next day.
I checked-in with Cairo, as I’ve done every day this week, they say they’re ok.
My uncle wouldn’t drive them across town East to West to Liberation Square.

I checked-in with Cairo, as I’ve done every day this week,
as I’ve never done before, to this day.
They say the government’s hired goons
from among the bored tourist-predators,
the guys who drive camels and even take pictures,
and from among the unpaid police officers.
They say the government’s paying salaries
only to those who take part in Pro-Regime demonstrations,
and that Aljazeera reporters are fair play.

I checked-in with Cairo today, they say they’re going back to Saudi Arabia before it gets any worse, and before flights are cancelled. They tell me, “there’s one advantage to living near the airport.” I know. I’ve lived near airports all my life too. I say.

This Post Was Composed on January 31, 2011 by Ahmed Teleb

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