Whenever I recall that scene, I regret and promise myself not to do it again. That was long time ago when we used to spend the summer vacation in our village in the heart of Delta, coming from the cities where we stay in Tanta, Dessouq, Alexandria and Cairo. First, we were being welcomed then we go on our plans for the vacation; dressing in the ironed clean white Galabeyas, eating the delicious food that included meat or poultry, cooked-in-milk rice, fish, local pies or Feteer Meshaltet, soft bread, backed-with-milk-and-butter buns, eggs, cream, cottage cheese and honey.
Then evening sittings follow; those settings that extend until dinner – main meal in the countryside of Egypt – is due. Then some of the elderly people take seat over the elevated desk softened with cushions while the rest sit on the colored weaved rugs or Hasir. The Primus stove, meantime, is always on non-stop holding the teapot above. Also, hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes are distributed. Then discussions, which varied from current events, to Fiqh issues, agriculture and sometimes jokes and unusual situations, start.
At sunset, meaning at the evening, those used to wake up before sunrise and who were knocked out of exhaustion at the end of the day start to flock; those who spend their day in picking the cotton leafworm; implanting rice seedlings; breaking corn stalks for feeding the cattle and ruffling the dry forage before them; irrigating, ploughing and leveling the land; and moving the dry mud and locally-made fertilizers; dung mixed with dry mud and hay. Putting the cattle into the barns, they come to sit at the edge of the talking assembly. Every time they join, unfair derogatory comments, which I later realized how rude and inhumane they were, used to shower them. First comment was usually a rhetorical question saying: “Have you washed your hands, X?!”… or “Have you had your prayers today, Y?!”… “Pay attention to Bilharziasis and don’t go often into the water canal”… “Don’t forget to give water to the buffalo or cow every now and then even if it’s tied to the water wheel”. Afterwards, dinner trays holding fancy feasts of food were served. Here, knocked-out hard working people favor those of the talking assembly and ask them to start first, outstretching their hands feeling shame for their hands are cracked or “work-roughened harsh” and their nails thick and filled with dirt.
I can see the same scene almost repeating now, as one sees the committed hard working people stuck behind lines of sandbags and in trenches, other hard working people working in factories, laboratories, fishing boats and all places of arduous work and efficient production, diligently working in silence and paying souls, blood and strenuous physical and mental efforts to defend the country and build it.
Meanwhile, those fake so-called gentlemen, activists and those who call themselves experts giving their opinions in everything, in addition to those talk-shows’ presenters paid in millions, dressing in their most elegant suits, wearing expensive watches, necklaces, Bally-brand shining shoes, cravats of well-known brand names, appear on the screens to tell those productive hard working people how awful they are, then they start to bla bla bla with their “expert” opinions in every field.
I still remember that incident that was live broadcasted recently when an expert in human rights – that was after the second terrorist attack of Rafah – kept stressing the necessity for postponing enforcement of the sentences handed down against members of muslim brotherhood terrorist group for three years. He kept detailing and analyzing until a phone call from a father of the martyred soldiers interrupted him. The father talked in great pain and sorrow about his martyred son who had just completed his military service and had come back to deliver his military stuff and cash his reward to get married when he and his colleagues were killed while taking off the bus.
The bereaved father asked that famous “Mr of human rights” whether he or anyone of his sons enlisted in the army or even produced any effort for the country equal to what he, his martyred son and the rest of his sons gave to the country, or he just took a good afternoon nap following his sumptuous lunch, had his shower and came to talk, not only about how to give up the rights of our martyred sons, but also to pervert the course of justice by his appeal to postpone enforcing the sentences for three years; time left for president Sisi in the presidency.
Afterwards, the bereaved father cursed human rights using a word some consider as obscene. At that time, I wrote an article here about this, the thing that severed the relation between me and that mister for long time as he accused me of being downright rude.
For years, I have been burdened with this issue or dilemma concerning the gap between the hard working people, who present their souls, blood and strenuous physical and mental efforts in defending and serving the country, and those “chic-looking” people good at delivering fluent eloquent speeches mostly void of any essence that can help revive the nation’s renaissance and praise the striving hard working people, for we have to bridge this gap.
In such regard, I do feel awfully sorry to cite the example of what the Zionists did prior to their occupation of Palestine and establishing their state. They used to distribute the emigrants in kibbutzes and moshavim. Everyone was working in cultivating the land while rifles were hanged over their shoulders, including university professors, doctors and everyone no matter their prestige, status or occupation was. The lesson was that the one who devotes effort in farming the hard granular land and protecting it will never let it go.
For all this, I do wish that shifts of guarding and grueling work can be set for all those “talking people” so that they can know what it means to be knocked out of exhaustion out of cultivating land, working in factories and fishing in boats; what it means to fall into sleep feeling worn out of working hard, not even able to eat.
God bless all those who pay their lives, blood and physical and mental efforts for defending the dignity and freedom of this country.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on November 16, 2017.
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