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Progress

This is part two of the series ‘District of the Heart’ by Myrna Abbas. To read part one, click here.

I could tell they were both good people, as they sat there waiting. It was no surprise. One can always depend on us Egyptian folk, always so humble and incredibly hospitable toward strangers. I had missed that. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth, and suddenly, my memory came rushing back. 

“I don’t live here. I’ve been living abroad for most of my life,” I started. “I don’t understand how I got here.” I scrunched my eyebrows together, deep in thought, trying to understand this crazy predicament. 

Abdul Rahman stood up slowly, and walked over to a wooden table wedged into the corner of the small room. He began slicing something, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I realized I hadn’t taken in my surroundings. The room was small, with a small bed in the centre  I was sitting on an old, oriental rug. I ran my fingers along the tattered edges of it, they felt rough and crusty. Tracing my fingers along the flowery design, I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia. The right corner of my mouth lifted in a smile. 

“We had a similar rug to this one,” I began. “Back home in Cairo.” I paused for a moment, something had dawned on me. “I can’t believe I didn’t ask this before, but where exactly are we?”

“Ismailia, my child!” Fatima was beaming at me. Despite the lines of maturity that were etched onto her face, her beauty astounded me. Her eyes showed strength, but the strength was masking the years of pain she carried with her. I looked down and realized she was still holding my hand. 

Abdul Rahman walked over to us, carrying a large plate in his hands.

“So you’re from Cairo!” he exclaimed. “We’re finally getting somewhere.” 

A sudden tangy, sweet aroma filled the air around me. I closed my eyes and took in the beautiful scent. 

“Mango,” I breathed. 

Abdul Rahman placed the plate before me. The bright yellow fruit lay in slices, its ripeness evident in colour. My mouth began to water, I hadn’t realized I was so hungry. I looked up at Abdul Rahman and Fatima, they were both smiling, waiting. Fatima nudged her head forward, gesturing for me to eat. Without another second’s hesitation, I grabbed a slice and indulged myself in the delicious flavours that flooded my taste-buds  Before I knew it, I had wiped the entire dish clean. I froze, as my cheeks burned with embarrassment. 

“Thank you,” I whispered. 

Fatima and Abdul Rahman giggled. “Don’t be silly, my dear! You must have been so hungry.” 

Abdul Rahman began to speak, “Would you like mo-”

“No!” I interrupted. “I mean, thank you. I’ve had more than enough.”

Abdul Rahman laughed, the corners of his eyes wrinkling as his cheeks lifted. 

“Very well,” Fatima said, as she rose to her feet, taking the dish in her hands and heading into another room. She had a slight limp, yet still walked with total grace.

Abdul Rahman walked toward a crooked, wooden window. The brightest light came streaming in as he pushed the shutters open, creating a loud squeak. I squinted as the sunshine lighted up the entire room, and Abdul Rahman gestured for me to stand. 

“You probably want to wash your hands,” he said. 

I stood up quickly, suddenly swaying to the left. A sharp pain shot at the back of my head, and I found myself releasing a loud cry. 

“Ah!” I grabbed my head from either side and bent over in agony. Abdul Rahman was already by my side, bending down to look at me.  

“All that time you spent stranded in the desert really took a toll on you,” he said, wrinkling his forehead in concern. I uncurled my spine and stood still for a moment, dropping my hands at my sides. 

“ I’m okay now,” I whispered. I lifted my right arm and lightly touched my mango-covered hair. “Great.” 

“Don’t worry, Amma has already set up the bathroom for you.” He made his way to what I assumed was the front door. “I’ll be outside.” 

******

As I stood before the bathroom sink, I looked into the cracked mirror in front of me. My face was stained with dark yellow streaks, a mixture of sand and sweat. My lips were chapped, hardened lumps of blood clustering between the skin. My hair was tousled beyond comprehension, and I noticed small knots hidden between my chestnut coloured locks. What I assumed used to be a plain white shirt and blue jeans, were now a sickly, yellow shirt and greyish, tattered jeans. Despite my horrid appearance, my hazel eyes were bright and awake. They twinkled with fear and curiosity; panic and confusion. 

The cool water felt like silk between my fingers, as it streamed out of the sink’s rusty faucet. I curved my fingers and turned my palms toward the ceiling. I waited for the water to create small puddles in my hands and splashed it onto my face. Without warning, I found myself gasping for air. I reached for the sink, trying to find something to hold on to as I fell to the floor. My vision began to blur, as I clasped my hands around my throat. I tried to scream, but no sound came out as I felt water quickly filling my lungs. In that moment, I realized that I was drowning.     

This is part two of the series ‘District of the Heart’ by Myrna Abbas. To read part one, click here.

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2 Comments on Progress

  1. I’m really, really enjoying this story! Engaging, excellent writing.

    Like

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  1. The Path | Egyptian Streets شوارع مصر

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