A Diary of–

14

14 years old

Newly enrolled

In the ninth grade

And I’m feeling ambitious

This is high school- things matter

Sara, this high school

My father said

Better start thinking about what you want to do

When you grow up

You

Are a young Egyptian woman of the 21st century-

The possibilities are endless-

I’d take a shot for that basketball hoop,

“Sara you could be a basketball player”

I’d dress in my fanciest dress and throw on a pair of pearl earrings,

“Sara you should consider fashion”

Anything,

Anything I wanted to be, I knew I could:

Dreaming was encouraged in our home

15

15 years old

And I’m being told

To really choose my courses wisely

Think about what you’re going to be, Sara

Think about what you want to do

And find a way that you

Can define your own view of success

So I turned to my father for that one

A good education to learn from

A job to provide security

A boat to sail

A family to love

That

Was all success could possibly be

Well I wanted something just like that-

A life of plenty,

One

That was just so comfortable

I’d never have to think about instability

One

Solely revolving around a sun of hard work

Emitting rays

Upon rays

Upon rays

Of monetary success

16

16 years old

And this life of gold

Is slowly starting to confuse me

My father’s work was going well

But it seemed like he just wasn’t

More fights with my mother

More ice-cold spaghetti

More harsh nights where my sisters and I would question,

What more

Could Dad possibly want?

But it wasn’t quite about that:

What he wanted or what he didn’t

In fact a year later

Is when it hit me

That there really is a hitch in society’s focus

A year later

Is when I realized

That we

Could work to restore this focus

And so

17

17 years old

One day prior to my birthday

My father is appointed governor of Alexandria

Double the celebration,

One would think,

But that isn’t quite the reaction I got from everyone else:

“The new governor? Why on Earth?”

“Doesn’t he know he’ll earn less than a fourth of his current salary?”

And the one that really got to me:

“There’s a reason they call them public servants”

Pause-

Don’t lose your temper ya Sara

You

Are better than that,

“It isn’t about money”

I calmly try to explain,

“He’s chosen to take-on this position

For something more”

“Well your father clearly doesn’t understand what he’s in for-

Egypt just isn’t ready for a hip, young man with a tattoo to be governing one of its provinces”

“What are you talking about? Abooha moz, that’s all that matters!”

Pause-

I try to recollect my sanity

Is this really all they think about?

Well what about sacrifice

Compromise

All

Of those selfless terms

Do they mean

Nothing

To this generation

Of Westernized Egyptians

Only taught

To think tangible thoughts

And dream tangible dreams.

And don’t get me started

On my mother

My sacrificial

Endlessly supportive

Mother

Who never wanted anything more

Than to help my father work

Towards this beautiful sunset

That they believed

Could be our future Egypt

But instead of encouragement

Instead of resounding support

My mother endured ignorant comments like

“She’s always stuck to her husband”

And “I thought a new governor was appointed, not a governor and his wife”

“Maybe she’s just jealous

Of all of the attention”

Really?

Forget that she’s willing

To lend a hand

Forget

That every meeting or conference she’s attended

Has had something

To do with her own interests

Long before Dad’s position

Was ever in the picture

Forget

That she

Is a living, breathing symbol

Of everything

An Egyptian woman of

The 21st century

Should be

18

18 years old-

Well

I still haven’t seen the day

But I know

That if we continue to view success

Through that one

Restrictive

Superficial lens

Then I know

Then I’m sure

I won’t

Want to see

The day.

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