The Day I Raged

I woke up to a burning sunlight

Silenced howling fear within me

Stood tall before you

Driven by the monster of your creation in me

Your power outweighs mine

But my passion for this blessed land can flood gold mines

You confuse patience with humiliation

I know I had to correct you

Teaching you the hard way about re-exploring me

Is what you taught me all through our history

Too late when I lived years licking your stinky shoes

Kicked my pride across corners of your corrupt capital

Wore my heart on my sleeve

Dived into my brothers waves of anger

Wouldn’t care less if my neck is what your mad dogs chase after

No, its not their revolution

It is their revolution, plus my revolution and our bloody anger

Waited longer than camels in Sahara without water

Maybe I am a speaking animal but my thirst won’t stand any longer

Because of you I am a walking encyclopedia of human mockery

They laugh at me, beat me, crucify me, kill me and turn my ashes into their wine pottery

Haven’t you had enough of this insanity?

I feel sorry for the day you and I stand before Him

We’d both negotiate mercy

The one that seemed like rain in the desert on one of your drought days

I trust there would be no bleaker than a tyrant’s destiny

You should know

One true death awaits me

Don’t care if my raging shakes our fake complacency

I shall die – pride is my best ally

Promise kneeling no more before the false deity

May Kosba

That Day I Raged – Onislam.net (Fine Arts)

Kianga Ellis reading

 

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The Early Grey Season

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)

What Meets the Eye

By: May Kosba

She arrived seven minutes before the session starts at ten in the morning. None of her colleagues showed up yet. Can’t complain, the only reason she made it that early is coincidently living about five minutes away from where the training is taking place. After all she can’t avoid the last minute attitude engraved in her genes like most Egyptians. The clock finally ticks 10:00 am, it seems that trainees, trainers, training staff are here including herself ready to ignite the week long training roller coaster.

She sits among trainees, not quite aware if its out of a modest behavior or only trying to convince herself she takes the know-how after her boss. He’s talented; he knows how to keep the show running for as long as it takes, yet interesting. Looking at him talk and move is just too confusing and crippling. She’s not an MIT, its just how the show goes. She always had a distaste for comparisons and tests. She likes to be spontaneous and expects her spontaneity is greeted with both appreciation and respect. After all, spontaneity cannot be deemed effortless. When she talks anyone can see her aura filled with passion and gentleness.

The icebreaking process is something that she and her colleagues should take part carrying out with the trainees, but this time is different, the old man seeks bedazzling the kids. Look at how they gaze at him, charmed, as if a magician with endless tricks in his pocket waiting to come out like fireworks to change their life forever. This image slowly poisons her mood as the countdown brings her show near to the starting moment. What seems to be confusing is the nature of her team’s cause; is it educating them with “development” and what comes with it, or how to perfectly play gimmicks and what comes with it.

 

 

It is time that she takes the reign of “development” and herself. The outset was a little rough, she knew it would be. As always, never ceased her promise to herself to acknowledge where she stands compared to her boss; experience and knowledge wise by saying her infamous line “It’s always difficult to do after Dr. Thabet” and doesn’t seem to care less about how it is perceived by the trainees, she knows by only standing there and the way she looks and speaks will never be casted among them. She knows deep in her heart, she’s of a different kind.

Wearing the trainer’s hat feels completely different from the trainee’s hat. It felt a bit heavy in the beginning. There she stands looking at young boys and girls and a few oldies thinking of how to make a good long lasting impression. She began pulling out tricks of her making to make her points clear and help them change the face of the future in their communities, that’s what her job is about.

The more she talks and moves, the more they gaze back, intensely. For some reason the men’s aura doesn’t tell they grasped much about community development, however, something like “sexual desires development” or something of a very nasty nature. Doesn’t take a genius to tell what’s going on in their heads. Their eyes are the most suitable interpreter. She wished they looked her in the eye, or her hands. It’s amazing how they are not affected by her enthusiasm and effort like the girls, they had their eyes fixed on her breasts and above her thighs instead.

She felt naked, humiliated, and endangered. Their piercing gazes made her feel like a Ghazeya but who dances at twelve at noon except a frustrated development trainer, in a training classroom surrounded by sexually oppressed creatures. Aren’t we all oppressed married or not? She thought.

Young lines of sweat found their way on her cringing skin. In her head, pacing back and forth, thoughts unfold in her mind; she knows the mind can’t hold two conflicting thoughts, what atbout dozen revengeful ones?! Her anger Bears can’t wait to monster those smelly ugly looking mad dogs.

She’s the trainer and this is another test of the survival of feminine strength. She has to win this game. This one single positive thought struggling to dominate her strife. For a moment, her exhausted glances drifted towards a dove looking from outside the window. A silly wish of her a dove, the best you can admire about is how beautiful creature she is not how cylindrical.

She’s always been good at what she deos and she’ll keep doing what she’s doing hoping someday she’ll have their eyes meet hers.

Cleopatra is Victorious

By: May Kosba

March 12, 2006

Aswan, Egypt

They marched under the torrid rays of the African sun of Southern Egypt, by the bank of the ever sparkling sapphire vein of life cracking the desert’s dominion in the most magical form. They walked, shoulder to shoulder, backpacked, endlessly. From the outside they appear to be the most perfect couple. They fit together; however, catching their hands entwined could be marked among the Seven Wonders of the World. Silence is often their third trustworthy companion on this trip, and a savior at a time of battling over a point of difference; could be as trivial as a micro-bug or heavy as a giant fossil dinosaur, it doesn’t matter, because these two can stick out enormously.

 He’s the compass of this trip and all that she can do is ride the needle. Surprisingly, he seems to know the pathway to every site like he knows the back of his hand. Impressive, yet shameful. His overwhelming knowledge of her land and history leaves her with too little input. She’s his interpreter.

Amidst the thoughtful noise filling the temporary peace pact they keep renewing to make this trip a success, for him indeed, a different type of noise forces itself on the situation. It seems that the people of Aswan are parading. She smiles, happy she can add a tip “Oh yes, today is the remembrance of Prophet Muhammad’s birth (PBUH),” and a firm in shock “Aha” is what comes out of the proud Italian’s mouth. The shock is not the product of the news, it’s the product of how the road had been enthralled and transformed into a river of chariots with some fine Arab horses, men in cotton Galabeyas dancing with their wood sticks and bizarre moves, and the olive green flags waving freely with Arabic alphabets glorifying the creator. This time his eyes could feel all the lines on each waving cloth “There’s no god but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is the Prophet and Slave of Allah”. Nadia’s translation was the only way he knows what was written; the main reason her presence is of importance; she is perfect at converting thoughts from one form to the other, and it’s what he needs.

They continued walking beholding a scene to be replayed only in their memories. As he captured his precious photographs, they conversed for a while and without cause the talk landed on Cleopatra; the infamous queen of ancient Egypt. How liberating it was for Nadia to keep affirming “Cleopatra is not authentically Egyptian, and even if she was, she’s a disgrace,” “she screwed up big time.” Mesmerized by her confidence, with a sly smile, Alberto replied in a broken accent “She might have been mistaken, but how come she’s not Egyptian?!” She sought the perfect response to unveil one of the most crucial historical pitfalls which most people fall into, meanwhile, feeling victorious in correcting a piece of information for the man who thinks he knows it all. “Cleopatra is a descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty, who were descendants of one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Ptolemaics spoke Greek and refused to speak Egyptian or even learn. How arrogant! Check it out on Wikipedia. Thus she is not Egyptian. I consider her a horny invader and a colonialist, and I loathe her.” she said stubbornly. With a piercing gaze into Nadia’s eyes he affirmed “Yet she’s beautiful and powerful. I see her in you.” Albert’s quote came unsheathed like a sword railed upon her scar, bleeding droplets of stunned longing to revive a memory of her first cut, ironically, his name was Albert too. Opposite to her promising victory, she defeatedly uttered “Thank You”, then decided to be as equally playful and added “Anthony” with a broken smile.

To their right lay a large parameter of serious social activity. It is hard to tell what this place is, the flying dust and scattered litter are overwhelming, but the rusted swings are enough mark to translate the massive scene into a children’s park. The photojournalist blood in his veins, banged and rushed to hold the camera, ventured around to find the perfect image kissed by his lens and a press of his lucky finger.

He surfed the river of dust and she followed, without a word, struggling to comprehend under which state of chaos this ugly scene could fall. This park simply embodied poverty and its cruel associates; dirt, chaos, deteriorated aesthetics and absence of awareness of rights and duties. All lived by a culture that no longer enjoys the merits of its giant civilized heritage when the people know those merits only existed in the temples of the city. She felt chained and in pain watching all the tourists who instead of capturing images of Egyptians celebrating, aimed their pistols, firing bullets of mockery for the world to see the perfect comedy; outweighing virgin laughs at Charlie Chaplin’s clumsiness, without a sound. The truth lost on them that some Egyptians bravely entertain a long history of marginalization, exclusion and rigidness of the desert and continue to stick it out.

Alberto, on the other hand, embarked on a photo hunting trip in this perfect oriental circumstance from the perspective of his western eye. His body language conveyed a meticulous search for the perfect angles, his moves invaded the covered women’s circles, zooming in and pointing his camera to the top of women’s heads, navigating from one circle to the other, skipping one important detail which Nadia thought couldn’t be missed; one thing is respect for those we think are of a lower class, if they are. She angrily interrogated in her fluent self-taught American accent, a proud feature as she’s always considered herself a global citizen and proper English is one tool “What are you doing, Alberto?” – “you can’t take photos of these people, not like that, it’s inhuman.” And humanity was another. He looked away, swearing in Italian and she could hear the F word shoot through her ears completing the perfectly polluted picture, impossible to undo. He searched for a communication blocking line, then promptly shot back at her sharply “Listen, if you’re embarrassed, then get out of here, I don’t need you.”

His words raided her cloudy skies and forced her into a battle, made her cause resemble William Wallace’s in a spur of a moment. She hasted to cease his reckless photographic uproar and shouted “You listen, these are unusually poor Egyptians celebrating, besides you haven’t asked these women’s permission to see if they’d like to be on your camera, its impolite and unethical.” You might be a successful professional Italian photojournalist who perfectly knows how to hold both a camera and women; I still have no clue who you are, what agenda you’re on. Your intentions might be purer than milk but if you post a photo like that and leave it to the Universe’s common sense to figure it out, it would still say this is how Egyptians celebrate, definitely and despite your intentions. This I cannot allow, not on my watch.” As the last word came out of her mouth, the seemingly eternal unrest began to unwind. She remained still in her place like a nail, while he went, his turn of struggle took over him as he held his camera, defying her will…when he was evidently biding his pieces of torn pride to return to him.

She turned to the neighboring Nile and the skies, gazing in hope that he would retrieve his conscience. A few moments later the short wait was ended by his invitation to leave the site.