Hakawy el A’ahawy

13 01 2010

I was sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my girl to finish her tutorial lessons on a nice sunny day. I was sitting alone, unprepared, without a book to read or headphones to listen to my music, so I decided to listen to the sound of birds which was magically loud and clear that day. But the crowd was loud too, for I was sitting among other people who happen to not notice the beauty of the birds or the sun among other things they didn’t notice. I wasn’t eavesdropping! But through the tweaking birds and the loud guests I had to hear some things.

Unfortunately, everything that I heard bugged me! school_books

I was sitting with my back to a wall, facing a Cairo side street. To my right was a simple, or rather a poor man in his fourty’s wearing a worn out Jalabia and Shebsheb (slippers). I’m not going to talk much about him, for he was sitting alone and didn’t talk much except to order tea or ask for more lit coal for his Shisha.
To my front were sitting two middle aged men and on a third chair sat a pile of different books.

The pile of books drew my attention. They were of different types and colors. My week eyesight wasn’t of much help with the titles but I managed to pick up some author names. Anis Mansour and Naguib Mahfouz were among other unknown authors; at least they were unknown to me. From some words I managed to read off the titles, the books were a collection of novels, poetry, and political books. And to my left sat two other middle aged men who we’ll come to later.

At first I thought one of the two men sitting around the table with the books was a book seller but it turned out in the end that they were not.
From the accent of one of them I realized he wasn’t from the city, Upper Egypt was my best guess. The other was a middle class city man in a cheap suit and a white shirt with a dirty collar.

Their voice was fading up as the argument heated. From the conversation I deduced that the man with the accent was a books editor or worked in a publish house. The other one in the cheap suite was what seemed to be a "wannabe" writer or author (I have a reason to call him a "wannabe")

The editor guy was talking about his work and the processes that followed him, how he edits articles, books, and novels. How he’d take hand written work and type it on the computer then edit it and spell check it till it’s ready for print. Then the publish house’s work on the cover and cover material. That all didn’t bother me, for all that was work that someone had to do.

What bothered me was how invaluable he made it all sound! How he spread to the other guy his list of "price". I know this is his job and that it’s what he did for a living, but the way he argued his price with the wannabe and the way he held the pack of valuable books in his hand feeling the covers of the books like he was selling cloth fabric! The way he treated it like it had no value for him other than it got him more money! Really great people spent months or maybe years to write these books on paper for people to benefit from, for people to be enlightened. Did Naguib Mahfouz write his books and argue about how much it would cost to publish them?

Even if it was a venue of profit for the editor, what about that wannabe? He’s a wannabe who’s not even good at being a wannabe, whether he was looking for rich or fame, he didn’t want to pay enough for it. He didn’t value his on work! Even if for other people who would publish his work it didn’t mean anything but a commission for the middle man, he should take pride in it an honor it! Did Anis Mansour allow his books to be published in a cheap cover because a good cover would be taken out of his share? I could only think of Tawfik El-Hakim who would do that, but we all know he was cheap; it had nothing to do with not valuing his work!

That day when i went home, i was so disgusted, yes, disgusted! Some may say it’s a strong word, but that’s how i felt. It’s normal for someone like me who keeps his books in a drawer to keep them away from the dust, and reads them so carefully without totally wide opening the pages to keep the book unbroken from the side and as good as new. I ran into my room, opened my, book drawer and gently carried a bunch of then in my arms. Dug my nose close to smell the papers. Admired the looks of them and thought how crazy i am in love with good old books. Treating them as my children or even more as other people’s children who made an honest effort to put them in my hands and now i have to look after them…

As for the two men sitting on my left, I’m too disgusted to talk about them now, but believe me, you don’t want to hear about them either…



26 12 2008

They were sitting at a cafeteria by the Nile. It was a sunny day. End of February, but a warm and a sunny day.

He gently held her soft hands, looked deep into her peaceful eyes. They’ve been sitting there for hours. Everyone was now looking at them, admiring their relation, sensing the love that’s in the air surrounding them. I was there too, sitting at a close table. Close enough to hear the conversation; took out my pen and paper and started writing.

She listened to him with a look of care, tenderness, and admiration.

They haven’t had such talk for years. The words were coming out like they had been waiting forever for this moment, for the right moment to be said. For the time to come when they are this close, with nothing on their minds to disturb their thoughts. Waiting to be said on this special day.

It was her birthday, she is 25 now. He was telling her how beautiful he thought she was, since the first day he laid eyes on her. Her amazing smile, her angelic eyes, her soft touch, he always felt he was looking at an angel from heaven. He told her how amazing her hug felt and how gentle and warm it was. How he love to watch her walk, talk, and even sleep at night with a relaxed crescent drawn on her face as if angels were tickling her through the night. How he always appreciated having her beside him to share his laughs and tears, falls and rises, sickness and health.

She felt shy but deeply happy. She listened to him in silence; tears of joy were filling her eyes.

They took turns in the talk like they were new lovers where each one took the turn to say how much they loved the other. Like a fresh love with so many things unsaid, and now was the romantic time to say it.

He was silent for a while, so she took the turn to talk. She told him how safe she felt beside him, between his arms, under his wings. How he made her feel like a princess in her own world; supported her in her decisions and gave advice when she needed it, listened to her complaints and talked her out of her tears whenever she was feeling down.

Sunset was close now and it was getting cold. They prepared to leave; asked for the check and gathered their things. They held each other’s hands as they walked to the car; a gentle embrace of their fingers was enough. Everyone around was watching them leave wondering where they were going, wondering their view, wanting to ask them to stay, for they have been a resemblance of love to the audience, giving them something to talk about, or to wish for, to have such a relationship. Giving me something to write about, to convoy my loneliness.

They disappeared out of site. People started to ask for their checks, attempting to leave too.

They walked together to the car, slowly, to live every step like it was eternity. Walked silently, for no word could explain the feeling of happiness that was flooding their hearts and souls. They reached the car, and he opened her door like any gentleman would do for his loved one. They started their journey back home. It was dark now, and the warmth was starting to give in to the cold. The windows were closed. He had to drive faster now to reach their cozy warm home quickly. She slowly leaned to the left, to rest her head on his warm comfortable shoulder.

The trip was long and she felt thirsty. She asked him to stop at any marketplace to buy a bottle of water to moist her dryness. He pulled over across the street from a minimart. Woke her up gently for she has dozed on his shoulder out of comfort and sense of security.

He told her he’d be right back, turned around, examined the street carefully, and started crossing. He picked her a warm bottle of water, paid for it and started heading back.

She was watching him from the car, thinking how tender and caring he was. Watched him cross the street back, looking both sides then started walking.

Then his eyes met hers, a smile was resting on both faces, a look of relaxation and consent.

Suddenly a face turned different; a look of shock, surprise, pain, and sorrow.

A silent strangling scream went out, “Daaaaaaaaaaaad.”