It’s Ramadan 2nd 2008, Mike’s airplane clouded the hoary skies of aging Thebes before it finally captured its land. Out of all destinations, he tolerated the longest of distances in search for a different meaning of peacefulness. His red freckled foot hits the dark soil with ample ambition to conquer every possibility in this ancient city. He takes a deep breath, like magnets, attracted, with all his might, the magic which resided million years beneath the stones buried under these biblical sands, consumed all the beauty in one breath, left his will dire for divine assistance. As soon as he cowboyed his way out of Cairo’s airport, unaware of Nadia, his beloved, who waited outside to bid him a very Egyptian warm welcome, anxiety framed his smile, if she was a monster, would have eaten his fear alive from the furthest distance. He began apologizing for how he mistreated her in the past few months, promising her as always, this time we’re going to make it right. Representatives from the school, to where he will be sent to teach art, came to take him to Ismailia. They departed, she could smell his fright, and how helpless she is. He’s going to be far from her, yet she’s the one who helped him land the job. They have to be far so that they are together again, she hopes. On her way back to the car, his words echoed in her head “I am going to show you this time, I am not a bad person.” Oh, what an enormous responsibility he’s accountable to live up to.
A few hours later in the night, he calls her up on the phone, for the first time in her life, she hears a man crying for help, “Come and take me right now” he asserted. A deep well of helplessness dug itself underneath her and she fell deep in it. “What happened?” she wondered. He answered “I don’t like the school, nor the people, they are scary” “It’s so dark here, I believe I’m the only one on the campus, and the people are offering me women, even the British old man must be the 15 year old Egyptian kid’s partner, if you know what I mean.” As much as she couldn’t believe a word he said, out of her sense of responsibility being the only person he should trust in the city, raced against time and tradition to find one good reason she should drive all the way from Cairo to Ismailia on a Ramadan night, at 1:00 am, to be at his rescue. She convinced her family, wasn’t too difficult, its become a mission. They flew through the night to rescue the “terrorized Texan”… They arrived at the school premise, found him waiting at the gate with his luggage sitting on the sidewalk. He looked as if a victim of a flood attack. He jumped in her car, not believing, he’s woken up from the nightmare.
In Cairo, the big city, where the good and bad melt together and form a new way of living, they arrived, to start a whole new chapter in their tormenting story. Every dying day she hears him say “I like this country less each day, and you’re becoming the only one I like in this city”, by the end of the month, she celebrates the Eid, trying the hardest to forget the humiliation she had lived, which manifested in cheating on her, his ultimate ingratitude, and hate to her country. Post an argument about their future, the consequence was a letter to his family, in which he poured many sickening lies, as if bullets of hatred fired away from the tips of his paint brush. She can’t erase the way he described her country and people when he said “Egyptians and Muslims are warped, brainwashed, and filthy. The other day a Christian got killed for preaching. Long live America. The separation of state and religion is a perfect thing. Thank God I’m American”. A few months later he marries an Egyptian woman, converts to Islam, calls himself Yahya, and writes Nadia a letter informing her about his convert and his Egyptian traditional marriage. She thought the girl must have it all, to her surprise, his response came demeaning to all values of humanity. “Oh by the way, she has no education, she speaks no English, and she’s poor as dirt” he replied. Shocking but it’s only one Yank’s perspective.
Two years later she meets John, a numbers man with unfading smiles. Knowledge was one weapon and tolerance was another to erase all the barriers of cultural differences the artist had mounted in her. She tiptoed into his world, afraid she might awaken the dragon of differences whose burning fire had always frayed her butterfly wings. This time was vehemently different and unique. Chances for summer rain on this soil are more likely to happen than a long term relationship, however, not the goal. His ship had sailed across the globe, and this biblical land was to be embraced never disgraced. A lesson learned through years of sailing and embracing the beauty of difference the universe has to offer. Her memory constantly glorifies his quote “Remember life is a garden…so dig it!” He certainly dug the best out and departed with a long lasting memory of Cairo as the best destination he’s ever traced.
A rough streak of bewilderness struck her immensely, she could write hundreds of books about how differences could in one minute kill all hope in tolerance, and in the same exact minute faith could be revived…She questioned how can two people who belong to the same culture see things differently…Egypt ‘s smothered in too much beauty and ugliness, two faces of an old rusted golden coin, awaiting to be unpolished. Only coins collectors could value what its worth, and only time has shown her enough evidence that every man is held truthful about his perception, for everyone saw it with his heart. Good begets good, and evil begets evil!