Thursday, September 20, 2012


Sitting at a restaurant waiting for my friends who are never, NEVER on time (or even fashionably late, just really late) and writing down random thoughts that have been floating around in my head.
1.       I always feel like I need to apologize to everyone walking or standing in the sun while I cruise past them in my comfortable, air-conditioned car. I think I felt more comfortable when I had to take the bus because then I was on the sidewalk with everyone else.
2.       A golf course built overlooking something that resembles a shanty town, a neighbourhood of people who have no idea what golf even is. I wonder what they think of it, those dusty, raggedy children walking back from school alongside its back wire fence. To they even see it at all?
3.       It’s not nagging or complaining. It’s just that sometimes your head feels so heavy from all the thoughts, calculations and drama that you just need to lay it down on someone’s shoulder to help carry the weight.
4.       Dusty shoes from all the walking and pants that are a little too short. How much do you make at the end of the month? Do you wish all the time that you had just a little bit more? Do you wonder how it would feel to be able to buy everything you want, even if you don’t really need it? To drive one of those shiny new cars and park it in front of a big and comfortable house? To not have to answer those questioning looks from those who depend on you for their living?
5.       Everything is written and is meant to happen because He decided it will be so, so we can’t complain about it. And it was probably a blessing that it happened to someone who has always shown such good nature and bravery, and still does despite what has happened. A combination of ill-luck and fate, without which she would probably have turned out a well-off, satisfied and happy woman, her children around and her a husband by her side. Instead, she always has and always will be struggling against the tide, walking into an unknown future, alone.
6.       Walking back from the Haram through a dark and incredibly noisy tunnel with large suction pipes overhead and every single vehicle honking its horn, making a deafening noise that threatens to punctures one’s eardrums or split his head in 2. The path can only handle one person at a time, so we walk in single file, stepping over trash and dirty water and trying to block out just a small part of the noise before it drives us crazy. A long, long time later we reach the end of it, and step out into the open air, a cool breeze, and finally, silence. As they step out from the darkness and noise into the quiet light of day, they breathe a sigh of relief and look at each other. Then, the elderly man affectionately puts his arm around his elderly wife, and they continue on their way together.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freedom of Speech? *yawn*

Over the years, people have found it more and more necessary to express their rights to ‘freedom of speech’ by insulting other people/institutions/religions/ideas. As if that’s what freedom of speech is all about. Since there are enough people demanding an end to world hunger, war, social determinants of health, racism and deteriorating education, then everyone should turn to Muslims. It’s actually getting quite boring, listening to the Prophet (SAWS) being called a paedophile, terrorist and womanizer. I mean, seriously, for the hundreds of people who have made it the mission of their lives to insult and keep on insulting him, haven’t you been able to think of a different line? For people who know their rights, you’re not being very imaginative. And for people who have been studying Islam and know it so much that you have deducted that it’s the reason behind everything bad in the world, you’re not being very accurate either.
I will not comment on the Muslim world’s reactions to the repeated insults, because I have my own reservations about retaliating by killing embassy officials and burning down property. And the terrific Twitter marathon responding to that idiotic article by whats-her-face in Newsweek pulled the rug out from under the 'mainstream of contemporary Islamists' anyway. And anyway, the whole point of projects like that stupid movie, the French and the Danish cartoons and such is to piss people off and get as much of a violent reaction as possible, because that just puts the insulting material in the limelight and makes their authors famous. And it’s not just people who make it to the news that make a point of ‘speaking their minds’ and ‘saying it like it is’; there are loads of ‘open minded’ people, many of whom are Muslim (and far too many of whom are Sudanese), that find it necessary to point out as often as possible that Islam and our Prophet are so and so. It makes me sick, to be honest. Not enraged, not upset, but sick. Seriously, if this is the best use you can put your time to, then you’re not really worth a minute of mine.
What I want to say is this. The man you so easily throw mud at is not one we need to defend, because he is beyond what you ignoramuses will ever reach. It didn’t harm him during his life and it won’t harm him now that he’s dead. Try as you might to sink as low as possible with your prehistoric notions of fairness and freedom, you will not change the facts that define him as the greatest man to have lived. But just to try and simplify things for what sorry excuse of a brain you have, let me explain what I can. What you brand as child abuse and womanizing, was a practice that was acceptable at the time but is strange now. Just like marrying your cousin was acceptable in the US a century ago, and is now outlawed in 30 states. But of course, no one is accusing Fred Roosevelt or Charles Darwin of incest. Unlike what many people would like to believe, he was not a mindless killing machine with nothing on his mind more than primitive animalistic desires. He forgave those who harmed him, he never once raised his voice or hand to a child, woman or servant, his home was so modest that it bordered on poverty. He instructed us to take care of our neighbours, to smile in the face of passer bys and to remove stones and trash from the way of others. He taught kindness to animals and to always give alms to beggars even if it was obvious they don’t need it. Our religion teaches us to live in a clean, honest and civilised society. Rather than wallow in crime and chaos, let people act like animals randomly coupling and giving off illegitimate offspring with no rights to claim or ties to define them, and define people’s worth by the colour of their skin, Islam teaches us to treat our brothers and sisters like we would like to be treated, not to talk about others behind their backs even if what we’re saying is true, and that taking a single life without right is just as bad as taking the lives of everyone. And most importantly, that women in Islam are treated as delicate glass bottles, easily harmed so are to be well taken care of, who go through unimaginable hardships during pregnancy, childbirth and raising so that Paradise is under their feet, and that a man is blessed who affectionately puts food in his wife’s mouth.
Maybe he ordered the massacre or millions of innocent civilians under the guises of ‘fighting terrorism’ and bringing peace to the entire universe. Oh wait, no, that was the US government who did that. Ok then, so he raged ‘holy wars’ and burned down the enemy’s homes and temples and tortured them, their women and their children in the most horrific and unimaginable way that there are entire museums just to portray those devices. Nope! Those were the Christians! So he spied on, kidnapped and put in cages anyone who just happened to look like someone, locked them up for years without trial or justice, lied about killing and raping people who they had come to ‘save’, backed up people who have taken over other people’s land and stinked up the entire region, and various other atrocities. Nope, just the US government again. So when some moron makes a cheap movie about my Prophet, I don’t bother much, simply because I have more important things to do that, unlike vandalism, actually fall into my duties as a Muslim. It’s hard enough trying to be a good example in today’s world of media-led wars against Islam, and we really can’t fall into the same trap again. And these idiots running around blowing people up are just making things more difficult.
So please, spare me your unimaginative and ignorant views of what my religion and prophet actually is, and practice your ‘freedom of speech’ where it is needed. Like demanding equal representation in parliament for Coptic Egyptians, or keeping your trillions of war-fare dollars at home to support the failing American economy, or whatever.

p.s. Have a look at these articles:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bora Majayaha Wala 3iris Majahjah: 2

Abshir ya 3aroos! I mean ya 3arees!
Ok before anyone says it, this is not a rant about being single. And now that I think of it, when did I ever rant about being single? Anyway, the other day I was discussing the never-ending topic of marriage and all the difficulties we as Sudanese women have to face with regards to it with a friend of mine: having to put up with the endless looks of pity from people of all ages, the advice from people who have absolutely nothing to do with you, the accusations of al3izeil (yi3azilkom inshallah….. a7aaaaay ana bas) and how eventually there will be nothing to na3azil from, etc., and of course the occasional proposal from someone who is just so wrong you have no choice but to decline. This last part is the trickiest of all: it automatically means you think there is something wrong with them, when the only thing wrong is that you don’t feel the same way. And it means that you think you’re better than them and/or their family. And, it means that you, as a single woman, think you actually have the right to say no to someone who went through a significant ordeal to propose to you. At one point in the discussion, I easily stated that if I were a man, I would have been married ages ago. At which statement, my friend easily replied that what was the guarantee that this person I intended on proposing to would agree, and would feel the same way as me, did not find himself better than myself and/or my family, and thought that, as a single man, they actually had the right to say no?
Which got me thinking about how things would have been if women were the ones who proposed in our society? To tell the truth, I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. I imagine if it were the case, there would be a whole lot of single people out there. Just like there wouldn’t be any more than one child per family if men were the ones to give birth. I mean whatever the reason for rejection, if I were to propose and be turned away, badeha 6awali fi washaha da! He lagya? I mean badeho fi washo of course, since I would still be a girl proposing to a guy. Maybe I wouldn’t be so violent, but I would definitely go underground for about a hundred years until I forget about it and maybe resurface and try again. But then, even if he says yes and it works out things could still go wrong. He would want a fancy and expensive wedding and insist on having everything his cousins and friends have, even if I can’t afford it. And then he would want to go on holidays all the time, or refuse to live with my family and insist on having ‘his own house’. And nag that I don’t get him presents or buy him new clothes and phones and stuff like his friends’ wives do. And he would drag me around all over the place visiting his annoying relatives and get offended if I mention the fact that I have work or studying to do. His mother will be all up in my face every time we have an argument because he’ll be telling her all the details. And when we have kids he’ll be dumping them three times a week to go and get his ‘me time’ at the gym or playing football or staying up with his friends playing playstation and all those other pointless things men consider as entertainment. He’ll try to change my look and secretly get rid of the clothes he hates me wearing, and he’ll buy me his favourite perfumes to passively force me to wear them. I'll have to put up with his horrific cooking and when I ask for some tea or something it would be like I had asked him to get down and give me 50 pushups. And then, when things get really bad, he’ll blame it all on me and my inability to care or understand what he has to go through every day. Yeesh!
Bari yakhoy! Bora majayyyyaha wala 3iris majahjah!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sudan: In Yer Face!


People keep asking me why on earth I came back to Sudan. And by people, I mean every single person who comes across this piece of information. People who don’t even know me (which is never a deterrent for Sudanese people). I find it tiresome, trying to convince them that this was a choice I made with a sane mind and not on a whim, and that I have no regrets about it. Everyone is so up into this idea that Sudan is not a place that anyone would voluntarily stay in, let alone leave a stable life and job in the Gulf to come back to it, especially with everyone flying in the opposite direction. But like it or not, Sudan is the only place in the world we actually belong to. You could change your nationality, your hometown, your colour, but you’ll still have extended family with the name of 7aja Bakheeta and 7aj Alnijoumi, people you would rather forget you’re related to but people who will show up in weddings and funerals and run the show. Your ancestry will not be traced back to George Washington or King Fahad no matter how hard you try to attach yourself to those people and call them your family. Your parents will still have childhood memories of riding a donkey to school or swimming in the Nile. And you will always feel a pang of irritation and shame every time you see Omar Albashir giving a ridiculous speech followed by the never ending chicken dance, because, like it or not, he’s still YOUR president.
So please, let’s get over this whole ‘I don’t belong to this country and I want nothing to do with it’ act. Sudan has always been the way it is, and it’s not changing anytime soon. Driving is still like a destruction derby, the heat is always the closest one can imagine Hell to be like and the dust and dirt everywhere is what gives the country its authentic look. Any procedure that involves a governmental facility will always take 3 days longer than you think, and you will be charged 5 times what it should. Any event that involves the healthcare system will always end up as a story that should be broadcasted in ‘Infamous criminals of all time’. People cut in line even if there are only 2 of you standing. Everything costs a hundred times more than anywhere else in the world, and you can expect the price to double tomorrow morning.
So once you understand that these things are normal, and therefore expected, you can then proceed to look at the good things, and actually consider this country as a place to spend a part of, or all, your life. This is the one place where you will not be banned from education or employment because you’re ‘an expatriate’. You could be banned because you’re not a koz, because you don’t have friends and family in high places, because you don’t fit the look. But not because nas albalad are the only ones allowed. You don’t need permission to travel, buy a car or go to Hajj. No one can ever attempt to walk all over you because they’re a ‘citizen’ and you’re not. You could have 1, 2 or 10 jobs simultaneously without someone telling you that they technically own you and therefore you can only work for them. You stand in line at the airport with the citizens, not pushed to the side with all the ‘trash’ because of the colour of your passport. There are weddings to go to, all the family gossip reaches you fresh from the oven, and you run into old classmates wherever you go. The things that you read in the newspapers actually concern you. Come Ramadan, or any time of the year, you see hundreds of opportunities to give to people who will really appreciate it, and it feels so different because these people are a part of you. The food and Pepsi taste better, the fruits are sweeter and you don’t have to spend a single evening at home if you don’t want to. And best of all: everyone looks just like you, so no one will look you up and down and call you ‘ya zol’, and people will actually sit next to you on the bus without looking like they’re sitting next to a ticking bomb. And for entertainment, there's something for everyone: arts and photography exhibitions, music and dancing classes (samba, zulu and ragees 3aroos!), museums and parks, restaurants for all tastes and pockets, aerobics and karate, swimming and Nile cruises, horse riding, writing groups and concerts.
I came back home because this country is my country, and no one can convince me otherwise. I will not spend my youth a slave to someone else, unable to enjoy or relax, and not even saving money to make it worth the trouble. I admit that I have many more advantages than hundreds of people my age: a stable and beautiful house that we own so no rent to worry about; a healthy family who are financially secure and therefore no one dependent; stable means of transport, and a job even if it doesn’t pay me as much as I would like. Sudan isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well get used to that fact and try and divert the effort you make running away from it to making it a more enjoyable experience. When I announced my decision to move back home, a friend told me that Sudan is what you make of it, and that is so true. It’s been only 5 months since I moved back, and I have never been happier. In fact, I sometimes wish I had made this decision sooner, although maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated this place as much if I had. This major efflux of young men and women, especially doctors, is unavoidable, and I can’t say I blame them because almost everyone has a financial gain, especially men. But if money is not you’re one and only priority, then I think people should step back for a while, and actually consider living in Sudan, if only temporarily. Get to know the place and get to know your family. Get a job, no matter how meagre the pay. Try and give back and help pull this place out of the dirt, because no one else is going to. This is where our families built their lives and where they will eventually come back to rest, so we owe them and the country that much. And if everyone keeps on running away, then who will be left to fix what’s broken and build this place into what it should be? It’s not just about the money, and it’s not just about me, me, me.
Alsudan warak warak, 7at6eer mino wein ya3ni!