Gentle footsteps caressing the tile of the floor… A tender knock on the door, one that can only come from a mother, was supposed to wake Badr from his sleep.
It was a minute past 5 AM. His mother was punctual as always. How ironic would it be that she would lose track of time on a day as important as this one? Of course, that was impossible. Badr can always rely on his mother. That was one of the few things he was sure of in this world.
Today, though, the wake-up call was useless, for Badr hadn’t slept. He had gone to bed quite early for a summer night. And for the first couple of hours, kept shifting endlessly, looking for a comfortable position that he never found. So, he finally got up and sat on the ledge of the window gazing up to the sky.
It was a full moon, called in Arabic Badr. It stood in the middle sky, reigning the mighty city of Cairo. He could see most of the city from his bedroom on the 4th floor. The moon was giving him a chance, thought Badr, a chance to say good-bye to the place that held him in its streets for 17 years, a chance to engrave a picture of the city into his mind.
To the west, glistening between two buildings, was the unmistakable Nile. The river held a mystical spell on Badr, unlike his Egyptian friends. Even though he had spent his entire life in Egypt, Badr didn’t call it home. He came from another land, a country he has never visited, but was the birthplace of his ancestors. Still, this beautiful city charmed him and he knew he was going to miss it.
Quietly, he opened the door. His mother greeted him with a smile that couldn’t hide her puffy eyes. Badr wasn’t the only one that had a sleepless night. His father was in the kitchen, trying to read a newspaper. Although, the way he threw it to the side, when he heard his son’s footsteps, proved he was clearly disinterested.
Rushing back to his room, he checked his passport and his Visa. He had a feeling they would be exactly where he left them 10 minutes ago. But, science was getting advanced; someone might have figured out a way to teleport them… No, they were still there, either science hasn’t reached such a point yet or maybe his documents weren’t important enough. One thing was for sure, his paranoia will soon drive him crazy.
A huge dish of Feta Cheese & Green Fava Beans with Crackers on the side awaited him on the kitchen table. There was noway this food was going to fit in his stomach but his parents tried non the less. Badr didn’t resist. He won’t be tasting his mother’s cuisine for the next year so he tried to get one year’s supply in one breakfast… By the time he had finished, the sun’s arrays had already conquered most of the sky. He was leaving soon.
His mother went to wake his brother and his sister. His brother Samir was sleeping in the same room, just like the old days. He had left years ago to work as lawyer in Alexandria. It was hard to get 2 days off work, but there was noway he was going to miss his younger brother’s departure. Jumanah, on the other hand, had just finished her first year at the nearby Engineering school and still lived at home.
At least, his parents wouldn’t be lonely, he thought. Deep down, he felt guilty for leaving his parents. Even though they kept saying they were proud of him, he knew his departure saddened them as well. Making his parents miserable was something his good nature refused to do, but still he wasn’t going to let this marvelous opportunity slip away.
That was the closest he ever got to selfishness or ever will. Or so, he promised himself.
His suitcase was already packed and stood in the hallway next to the door. His room was meticulously ordered. He had spent the majority of the past day pretending to clean it whilst he was really absorbing all the memories that were triggered by old photos, a diary he had from his early teen years, his scrapbook… He was reconnecting with his past because he was afraid he was going to lose his identity.
This wasn’t the time to do some soul-searching nor was it time to get cold feet. His flight left in 3 hours and the airport was one hour away. His brain was ordering his legs to move but his heart kept overriding the orders. And so he lingered. His father and his father took his suitcase to put in the car. Any minute now, they will return and he would have to leave.
Moments later, they came back. Everyone was standing in the hallway waiting silently for him to make a move. He took a deep breath for his heart was beating madly. And taking one last look at the flag hung on the wall, he left home.
6th October Bridge, from Wikipedia.