By: May Kosba
Call me a street child, dead hopes, victim of capitalism and let your imagination flow and take you wherever your conscience lands. Your vivid imagination would not unplant the fear dwelling within me of the living shadows of the dead in my cemetery. Yes, cemetery. Call it a cemetery, a graveyard, the final destination, land of desertion, but never say a garden, it is far from it, never say home it is far from it . Do I care to develop a description? I don’t think it matters. Yet, I see it another landful of dust in the capital of dust, only a carnival of bones and corpses possess the underground would make it a different site. Certainly not a touristic site, nor the elites kind of place. It is the place for the dead for the entertainment of those above the dead. We’re not poor, perhaps below poor but not dead, yet. If you search for where our richness is lurking you may not find it on earth, I trust it is deposited for us in the heavens. A little pondering on that my doubts might kill the thought. That doesn’t matter, for we’ll die too soon or maybe dead already.
My friends at school laugh their hearts out every time I have to remind myself or be reminded that my father is an undertaker. I am clueless on whose fault is this, and what is this. Is it him being an undertaker, or us living with the dead, or us being poor, or us not complaining. My father’s job doesn’t shame me. I have to believe scavengers must exist for the survival of the universe. If the earth worm is man’s scavenger then someone has to make it ready. If it’s not someone else’s destiny then it should be my father’s. That too doesn’t matter.
People have always thought I speak bigger than my tiny size and wise beyond my young years. I say if you see what I see, and hear what I hear, your forehead wouldn’t part your knees your whole life. You see, like anybody you wake up in the morning wishing today passes without any troubles; you wake up to a funeral march, our visitors wear only black or white, too many voices entwine; some weep, some hiss with gossips, some drift, some complain of the dirt, some are too busy with life, some remember the hereafter with a few verses of the least they memorize of the Quran, all through the Sheikh’s recital continues to reign over the Capital of Silence, the cemetery. That too doesn’t matter.
Sometimes animals scream, sometimes shadows move, sometimes people come back from the dead, and sometimes the night is so dark and frightening, and my toys are possessed. That too doesn’t matter.
The other day there was a cars festival. The rainbow wore black; I could not differentiate between my black and white eyesight and reality. Guess I am accustomed to weeps and screams and anything equals gloominess, but this time was different. From the distance, I saw the shroud wraps a tiny body. The closer it gets I shiver. Now I see it and it can’t be more real. The moment I questioned secretly how old is this little creature, heard his mother say “Oh God, he’s just a baby. Next month he was going to be one year old.” I felt the earth withdraws underneath me, the earth slams against me. I hurried back to my room just to hide my head beneath my thighs and wished I’d blackout. I did, I woke up and looked in the mirror to see for the first time snow, it slid my auburn curls like ghosts of the dead in the dark. Thinking of the hero baby makes me think I must have lived longer than I should have, or if he could die at barely one no wonder I go grey at twelve.
A tribute to Amr El Liethy’s “One of the People” (Wa7ed men Elnas) TV Show about children living in graveyards coverage and in the loving memory of my cousin Ali Abdel Baky (November 15, 2009)