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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Private Post : The Betrayal of Life

A few days ago, my friend O. passed by and picked me up after work because he wanted to go out and talk and stuff. We passed by Mc Donald's and picked up a couple of large cokes (It was hot out), and then we headed out to Heliopolis (a neighborhood in cairo) to meet our friend Peri. Peri wanted to eat something, but had no idea where she wanted to eat, so O. suggested this new place called "Makany", which means "My place" in arabic, because it had excellent salad and light food, which is what we were feeling like having anyway. So we agreed to go there to check it out. Something new to do, you know? Anyway.. We get to the place, and it’s pretty cool: it has this awesome layout, the service is friendly, and the food seems inventive yet delicious. Everything is ok, except, for some reason, I couldn’t feel comfortable. There was something bothering me about that place, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I then walked outside, walked in the back and saw the street that the restaurant gave its back to, and the stores there, and suddenly it all came back to me, and I finally figured out what was bothering me about that place. It was Aunt Gigi's old house. Hmm, let me explain, since you probably don't know who she is. Aunt Gigi isn't really an aunt of mine, but rather an old friend of my dad. She was this fun and crazy woman that loved kids, and me and my sister used to go to her place all the time, because it was right next to my Dad's work. She always had the best candy, she always had the best TV shows, she was always funny and fun and always knew cool stuff. She used to read the tarot cards to my sister all the time, and she is the one who taught me how to read them. She however, for some unexplained reason, refused to read mine. One day I remember I begged her to do it, and she relents, opens the cards, and the after looking at them she takes them away. She tells me that she won't do it; that my future is better to remain unknown to me. The woman was divorced, and had two daughters that almost never visited her, and an ex-husband that was an asshole, and who did nothing but try to make her life hell. I could never figure out why things were this way, but I guess it was because the woman was like a big kid. She wasn't a grown up in any way, shape or form, and that's what me and my sister loved so much about her I guess. As far as we were concerned, she was one of the best things that ever happened to us. Then one day my dad came home and informed us that Gigi died. Just like that. Brain aneurism. No one could do anything. Gigi was no more. I remember that I cried for her, and I didn't cry for my grandfather who died just a few months earlier, because I loved her so much. It bothered me for a while, the fact that a woman like that was gone like that while her jerk Husband was still alive, and then like everything else, I forgot about it and about her. Life moved on, and new memories erased old ones, which slowly faded away. I guess they are designed this way for a reason. Just the way of the world, you know? That was 12 years ago. And here I was, sitting in her house again, and it's no longer her house. In my memory I can see the old living room and the big dinning room where I used to run around as a kid, which now are the seating area in the restaurant; her bedroom where we used to watch TV and the meditation corner where she read her cards, which is now the Kitchen and the fridge; the set up she had in her Garden where we used to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunny summer day, which is now the restaurant's garden. I can see it all, and I can see that it's all gone. No trace of the history of the remarkable person who occupied this space for 20 years before dying 12 years ago. Just a nifty hip little restaurant, where all the waiters speak to you in English and the coffee costs three times what it costs in coffee shops. She was GONE! You don't think about stuff like that, you know? You don't think of what will happen to your house after your death: you figure your kids will live in it! You figure that the place that holds the memories of a life no different than any other except that it was yours would carry on that memory forever. That's part of what you leave behind, and you figure people will respect it. But they don't. A fresh coat of paint, some new furniture, some new tenants, and every trace of you having ever lived there is gone. And the joke in this particular case is that it won't be a place where a new family will come and make their own memories; Instead it's a place where people come, eat, converse and leave. It's a place no one really occupies: Just a brief stay and we will be on our way. We got places to go, you know? Heh, come to think of it, this case in no exception, because that's almost exactly what it's like to live in a real house. That's what people do in houses, right? They come, they eat, they relax, they have conversations or fights or whatever, and then they are gone. Nothing personal; we are just motes of dust you see, with lives so short we might as well not live at all. I guess that's the real betrayal of it all: That there is nothing personal about it! Just the way things are. It would be semi-acceptable, or at least understandable, if this eradication of our memories was done out of hate or malice, but the fact that it's done out of nature, out of the need for money, that you are doomed to disappear just because it's part of the cycle, that's the true betrayal of Life : That it goes on without us! As if we’ve never lived at all!

15 Comments:

At 6/16/2005 04:10:00 AM, Blogger haal said...

SM, what a post!

It is very touching how all the little corners that carried your Aunt gigi's memories were erased so quickly and replaced by a commerical, hangout, semi-fake place. I sometimes feel that this is what's so cruel about Egypt: the ability of just erasing history and faking new stuff instead. No only that, the superb ability of Egyptian to 'forget' and 'mashee halak.., elly faat maat ya gada3, el hayy aba'a min el mayt'. Drop people from history (like Mohamed Naguib for instance)with cold blood....etc.

Anyways, the way you described how she didnt want to read ur cards reminded me of Haleem's song, el-fingan reader! Hope your path is not masdouud.....

 
At 6/16/2005 04:34:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

I hope so too ya Haal! I hope so too!

 
At 6/16/2005 05:18:00 AM, Blogger Egyptian Person said...

This reminds me of Anakin Skywalker "Clouded, his future is".

 
At 6/16/2005 05:29:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Thanks EP. You people sure make me feel great about my future! Thanks a lot!

 
At 6/16/2005 07:38:00 AM, Blogger thewiz said...

Hey Sandmonkey, moving story, kinda sad. But also, kinda happy. Your Aunt was child-like and loved to have fun. She is gone now but her house stil remains. . . .and people come to have fun. Some kinda Zeitgeist thing but it is cool how her spirit remains in the house.

 
At 6/16/2005 08:04:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

All absolutely true. This happens everywhere, not only in Egypt.___ Some people do put up pyramids in the hope that they will be remembered.

 
At 6/16/2005 08:27:00 AM, Anonymous Karim Elsahy said...

KIMOKAZI THE PAN ARABIST!? HAHA YOU SON OF A BITCH YOU JUST LOVE GETTIN UNDER PEOPLES NERVES DONT YOU... One Arab World will do buddy.

 
At 6/16/2005 09:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandmonkey...People don't just vanish with no trails. Everyone leaves a trail...for good or for ill.

I know you won't believe me but someday...Egyptian kids will study you and GM's blogs. Scholars will debate your meanings.

Me? I don't have a blog. I did some research that is now footnoted in books and discussed. I also was the driving force behind the preservation of 21 acres of parkland. One of the things that really shook me was when I realized that I will have more impact on my spouse's life than anyone else. What a responsibility.

Never assume that we don't all leave footprints forever.

 
At 6/16/2005 10:55:00 AM, Blogger littlewhy said...

You know who Khufu is, right? You need to build yourself a pyramid, Sandmonkey.

 
At 6/16/2005 01:15:00 PM, Anonymous Highlander said...

SM , touching post. next time reming me to read your palm or tarot cards pal.

 
At 6/16/2005 02:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the biggest imprint that can be left is to turn a house into a home. Only memories live everything else dies and dissapears. That's the cycle of life

Mestekah

 
At 6/16/2005 05:17:00 PM, Blogger JohnL said...

We all change the world and so live on.

Aunt Gigi's impact doesn't end here, or ever. If you need proof of that, you're looking at it, pal. Her home didn't become a restaurant; it became the world.

Regards from America.

P.S. Maybe she wouldn't tell you your fortune because she knew you'd be too influenced by what you heard.

 
At 6/16/2005 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

She would have LOVED the idea of her house being turned into a hip little restaurant. People coming and going, pausing awhile to enjoy, and then moving on. What better monument to her than that?

An you Sam, you're the icing on the cake. You not only came there, you remembered her and all she meant to you.

 
At 6/17/2005 05:04:00 PM, Anonymous brenda said...

She lives on through you and your love for her. Love doesn't end. If you've ever been in the presence of someone you love while they are dying, you know that nothing else in the world matters. Not their house or possessions or money or job or anything. Everything else falls away except the only real thing in life which is love and which doesn't end because our bodies do. Nice post. Very well-written and touching. Gigi would be proud I am sure.

 
At 6/18/2005 03:38:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

SM,

This post touches the topic of family ties pretty much. Heritage and continuity homa sona El 7ayat.

I'm glad in a way you were not old enough to understand her pain and sufferings due to an abusive husband and ungrateful kids.

 

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