“Goodness, Gracious” “What in god’s name is going on?” Fireworks, screams and shrieks but of happiness and what’s that sound? My mobile oh my god, it’s ringing off the hook! Gosh how long have I been sleeping?  13 hours now that’s what I call running away from reality if you’re into that fancy shmanzy dialogue. Out of bed we go it’s my mum now what? Since all this started she calls fifty times a day with the same Soap Opera every time “Come Home, You’re in danger.” “Hello mummy, what’s that? She’s HAPPY, that’s a nice change from hysterical, scared and frustrated which were the norm the last couple of weeks. “Emily thank god, you picked up, he’s gone honey you can go out now, and it’s over.” She managed to get that through then the line went dead.

Who’s gone? I sat on my bed for a couple of minutes trying to make sense of what was happening around me, the screams of joy in the street, what my mum had just said, the Mabrouk on the TV screen that has been running for the last ten days, oh my god, he left, he’s gone. I jumped out of bed and danced around the room in pure joy, gosh I must have looked mad. Finally Freedom, at last but it hadn’t come easily it had a heavy price on the Egyptians, all those people who sacrificed their lives it hasn’t gone to vain. All these weeks, all those phone calls people I love demanding that I come home telling me I wasn’t safe, they had no idea I had never felt safer.

My friends always called me the tough girl from the Bronx, the girl who has been standing in protests all her life, the girl who refused the fact that she wasn’t safe in her own neighborhood, that she could get shot anytime and anywhere. All my life I have been hearing one lie after another from congressmen to politicians to presidents, nothing really changed in so many eyes we are still the niggers that entertained them in the Battle Royal. Everywhere I looked I saw poverty, unemployment and drugs. Blood was everywhere so, I wanted out, Egypt always interested me, I applied in college and as soon as I got accepted I came right away. Of course I got a lot of No way in hell are you going half way across the world and a lot of awesome and a few are you mad “Are you going to leave America?” Well I wasn’t exactly living the American Dream people.

When I first came to Egypt I was surprised gosh they have cinemas! The more I knew the more I felt that something was out of place. Why are all those intelligent and kind people silent? Why are they not fighting for their rights? Why are they being so passive? When the 25th Revolution broke I wasn’t surprised like many others actually, I was glad but, that’s just me where I come from when you believe in something and fight a fair battle to win, things tend to get very messy.

My ginger colored skin and how fast I began to learn Arabic made me feel right at home in no time. I felt safe, I felt like I finally found somewhere that I belong when my mum told me to come home I just couldn’t, I felt like I would be betraying all the people I came to know and love, the supermarket guy who always greets me good morning, the guy selling the papers who I argue with everyday on tragic events worldwide ignoring how he stutters and all the words I can’t make sense of, the brave young men who guarded my apartment building and stood up to thugs and robbers, the people who sacrificed their lives for Freedom I felt like I was betraying every noble cause in the world. No I said I am staying here and there is nowhere else in the world where I would feel safer.

When I went down to Liberation Square, I saw the Utopia that I have been dreaming of all my life, this is where I want to bring up my children, this is where I want to live and this is where I want to die. As I raced downstairs and starting walking in the streets of Tahrir and as people congratulated me, I wanted to be an Egyptian if you were in that square you wouldn’t have wanted to be anything else. Today I wasn’t the tough girl from Bronx today I was Home and I was Free.

Marwa Arafa