An Illusion of Peace

“It’s way too cold outside, to fight with someone you love..” Marwa Arafa

I was supposed to go to work, I was supposed to go to college, I was supposed to go to a lot of places, be at even more, instead I took the metro and made Mary Gurguis Metro Station my destination.

First thing  I saw when I set foot in the metro was a young mum with two young girls, she was sitting on the bench, the doors closed, and I grabbed unto a pole to avoid flying over the cart. I was the only one standing she yanked one of her girls off the bench, and said, “Have a seat.”

I remembered how many times my own mum had done that when I was little, just like a lot of Egyptians are put your kids in glass chambers junkies, many more live in mind the misconception that the young can endure more than the old. They should stand and the older, no matter if they are really old or young adult should sit. Thing is the young suffers now physically and later on psychologically. The irony of it is that, many moms yank their kids still but not as much men stand up for women any more. But let’s leave this for another blog post.

After I seated myself down, a girl looking like she was in her early twenties, came in, opened her phone, and started the most beautiful imaginary phone call ever. She had everyone in the cart in awe, tears, and the arrogant were irritated (Yay, right?). It was a new initiative taken by a young youth civil society organization, they use public transport as a pillar to transmit their opinions, peacefully and without annoying anyone of course. It’s like a little sketch. She acts like she’s calling another activist, she says why they are in Tahrir, why the revolution should continue, and states a lot of the “wrong” tragedies that have taken place recently. She is a damn good actor, she even cried. Some people tried to attack her, but yours truly ate them alive! I chatted with her a bit, she told me that this is all she does all day. I saluted her and thanked her for what she is doing on my way down. The minute I set my foot down, I looked through the window and saw her mover her way to the other side and start again, I smiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked out of the station, it was so windy, my skirt was wrapping me twice. As I stood at the top of  the stairs, I saw the Coptic museum right in front of the station. I took one look at it and decided I wanna go there. So I made my way down the stairs slowly, I hate stairs, every time I am making my way down any, I imagine myself falling down. It was close to 2 pm and the museum closes at 4 pm. As I got my wallet out to pay for the ticket, the museum looked so prestigious that I was sure the ticket would be a little fortune, it was beautiful even from the outside.

 

 

The ticket lady asked me, “Are you a student?”

I answered, “Yes.”

She said, “Well the ticket will be one pound please,” my jaw dropped.

I gasped, “One pound,” she replied, “Yes, special prices for students.”

I asked naively, “Why?”

She laughed then said, “Because people got the meaning of student all wrong, student is a student of life, while he studies from books, he has to see and experience everything for himself, so the government gives him affordable prices so he will be encouraged to come and check all the sites out even if his college or school doesn’t encourage that sort of thing.”

I said my thank yous and left.

But I just couldn’t help to think about that as I made my way to the gate, it might be trivial to many but to me it was astonishing how something that was set two hundred years ago can catch the essence of life and learning this much. But I was a little blue thinking who will actually take the afternoon off to come to Old Cairo and visit a museum. I laughed out loud thinking that it cost me two pounds (counting the metro ticket) to spend the afternoon in this beautiful place. It takes not less than fifty pounds to hang out a while in a coffee shop. As I made my way through the first room I recalled the quote,

“Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone to Love, Some to loathe, and You’re Set to Go.”

 

I was in the second room when something astonishing happened, as I was cherishing a medieval curtain with God and Christ embroidered on it, the “Azan” (Muslims Prayer Call) rang through the museum. There I was in the midst of Coptic artifacts hearing the sweet voice of the Mosque Imam. I smiled and wondered what all the fuss the media and intruders make about Muslims and Christians getting along is all about? I mean to me right then and there, the “Azan” went perfectly with monks and priests. In a very weird yet peaceful way they just did.  

 

 

This Fresco is one of the things that caught my eye and just clicked I later googled it and it dawned on me why it did. Although my first instinct about it was different in a very similar way I guess.

Fresco
Tebtunis (Um el-Beregat, Fayoum), 11th century.

This unique fresco represents Adam and Eve before and after their fall from grace. To the right they are depicted without genitals, innocent and unashamed. Next to Adam a horse tied to a tree symbolizes the control of evil. To the left Adam and Eve hide their shame with fig leaves after eating from the forbidden tree. Next to Eve’s head a snake symbolizes the fatal seduction. A Coptic script along the upper edge of the fresco describes their banishment from the Garden of Eden.

They had no shame till they sinned, they walked earth naked of worries before clothes. Now looking at my life and you looking at yours do we have that priviliage of walking naked with no shame? Or are we all burdened with sin and disgrace? Even if we seldom mention it. What first caught my eye was Eve covering her breasts and not her vagina, as if saying I have no shame for being a woman. I am a woman and for that I am grateful, blessed, and honoured. 

 

The aroma of the museum was fascinating like magic, there was just something so mystical about the place. The women’s (nuns) clothes were beautiful, embroidered and colourful. Had me thinking why , most movies and shows brings nuns out wearing grey, dark, and bleak. You can be modest and beautiful. God is beautiful, he wouldn’t want his children to be anything else.

A quote on a manuscript caught my eye,

“.أذكر الرب من له تعب في ملكوه السمواة “

“Pray to God you who has his share of misery, he shall hear you, in his kingdom in the Sky.”

It’s beautiful isn’t it? Sometimes the matters awe lays in it’s simplicity. Actually most of the time it does.

As I made my way through the exhibits and got to the second floor, my legs were  screaming for a break. I went around and about for a while then found a bench and sat down. Behind me was a huge glass window, the wind was so strong, I thought the glass would break. I wrote this:

“The wind rattles as if telling me to wake up.Telling me that this is a bad bad dream or  is it trying to yank me away from my fantasy world to hit me head first with the harsh reality. Here I am (I have no idea honestly what brought me here, and no sarcastic voice don’t say legs) on a bench in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, so far from what is currently being called my Home. No, no, no, shut up. Oh my sarcastic voice is just telling me that my own legs bring me to these predicaments time after time. I think the glass will smash right behind me or is that just the banging in my head, I don’t any more. All I wanna do is cry. I need a hug. I just need a hug. Something needs to be lost in order for you to go out and look for it, right? Maybe it’s just an illusion of a loss that is distracting me from all the crap I need to clean up after. Maybe this and definitely Maybe that but what’s the solution? Am I Lost? Or do I just prefer even the Illusion of Loss to actually trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with me. Maybe I like being Lost, because it simply means that I just need to be found. Easy fix, right? Maybe I am just looking for Love in a Hopeless Place…Hopeless Place. I feel like I am something dead on another just as dead.”

I wrote that and recently a wise friend of mine told me it’s all about Love you know all your problems revolve around Love. 

I made my way out but looked back and promised to come back again when I am a little less Blue. I had get my clothes in order so I headed to the WCs. Now you’re gonna laugh your heart out, now. A maximum six year old boy was standing there telling me two pounds and a half  “madam” (Of course the madam thing is what pissed me off), I just stared. A fee to enter the public bathroom! I asked him who put that fee, and he told me the officer who pays him daily to stand there collecting the money. Yeah, I know, FUCK! But I paid, and then hurried out of the main gate. Nah! You think I would get out there without a soveineir, I hit the gift shop first and got some beautiful pictures and postcards. As I walked by the outside walls of the museum, pigeons were everywhere flying and complimenting the sky. I looked at God’s skies, shed a tear, and forced a smile upon my lips. 

You’d think my day is done but well it ain’t. We have three more stops I mean it’s only 4 pm. But let’s carry out from where we left off tomorrow, shall we?

To be Continued…

Love, Hope, and Faith

Marwa Arafa

Monday 30th of January, 2011

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