Mama Makes More than Facebook’s Money in her Fundamentalists Muslim/ Christian Egyptians’ Social Network
Joining my mother’s network is so simple. Easy to use. Besides, it doesn’t allow any offensive names from any group against the others like “Against Islamists” or “To Those Who Worship a Wooden Cross”.
Mama is able to invite her connections to huge family meals in Ramadan. Neither my father, Baba, nor her worried about the price.They clicked “Like” with their connections. Joining this network has uncountable benefits.
You need to know how this story is “linkedIn” it to the title.
I miss Ramadan in Cairo when two telephones and one A. C. in the same apartment were luxury.
Mama was in the kitchen preparing food. The window was always opened so she can talk to our neighbor Tant Gamila.
“August is coming; so hot this year”, Mama said
“We had a difficult one last year as well.”, Tant Gamila said.
“No, no, it wasn’t as difficult.”, Mama said.
I said: “Mama, I want money to buy El-Eish before El-Forn gets very crowded”.
Mama to Tant Gamila, “God help the bakers. They work in front of the heat of El-Forn all day to bake El-Eish. Would you like Ibrahim to buy some for you? Don’t send your son Samir. He is sick”.
Tant Gamila, I am making pasta today. No need for bread with it. Thank you.
I took the money as usual, then went to my friend, Tarek’s building. I shouted his name. He looked from the balcony. I said: “Come with me to El-Forn.
We met Hany, then stopped by his building. He shouted, “Mamaaaaa, Mama?’
His Mama answered with a frowning face: ”What?” It’s the last episode of the show. She might have watched it more than four times and every time she would cry when the actor dies. She’s watching it while preparing food.
Hany: “Mama, Do you want bread? I’m going to the bakery with my friends.”
“Come upstairs. It’s hot. You have been out all day. You’ll get sunstroke.”
“Mama, we’ll come back quickly. The bakery isn’t crowded now.”
“Come up means come up.”
“Mama, please, I won’t get sick.”
His mother said: “What did I say?”
Our friend would look sad and about to cry because he can’t come with us.
We said: “Tant, please, Tant! let him come with us, please, please, please Tant, just for us this time,okay? huh, okay?”
Hany: “Okay, Mama?”
“Ugh, okay, Hany, but you’ll see……”
“Tant, he wants to come with us. Now, he won’t enjoy if he’s afraid. Please, please, please”.
“Ugh, okay, you return quickly. It’s hot.”
“Thank you, tant, Yay! Yay!”
The first floor neighbor looked from her balcony pretending she never heard the commotion asking “Are you, habibi, going to El-Forn?”
We look at one another with a face, “Ugh, yes, tant!”
The neighbor: “Get me five loaves on your way, smooch.”
Our daily routine going to El-Forn was playing.
Mama and other neighbors used to keep their kitchen windows opened. They talked about everything. Our neighbors might come by for a quick salaam and kisses when a relative is visiting. They might also bring a big plate of desert because they know all our relatives and we know theirs.
We come back late from El-Forn as usual, dirty feet and messy hair. We were yelled at, “What is that look?”
Same answer: “Mama, I played literally two minutes on the way. I am late because I was waiting long at El-Forn”
“Were you waiting in the middle of El-Forn’s chimney? Look at the dirt on you from head to toes. Go! Go shower.”
My father, in Egyptian, means “Baba” got home early that day. He is a co-founder of her social network.
Mama talked to Baba after he showered and said, “I don’t like the way Gamila looks. The Cancer Medication is awful.”
Tant Gamila called Mama from the window and asked, “I don’t feel well. How do I look?”
Mama: “Like a moonlight, honey. Touch wood. More beautiful than the other day when we went to Bahga’s son’s wedding. Honestly, that hairdresser of yours and big hair he did on us besides the heavy makeup, made me avoid taking pictures. Remember Gamila, when that arrogant priest wanted to kick us out of the church because our ululation, the joyful sound Egyptians make with their tongues, was too much. And Bahga came begging us to stop until the service ended. You did a louder one and told her to be happy and not to listen to him. I was about to jump on his stomach, hehe”
Tant Gamila didn’t laugh but said, “I’ll call my husband to come home. If something happened to me light a candle for me at The Virgin Mariam’s Church”
Mama said: “Girl, I am not gonna envy you because you’re beautiful. Don’t worry.”
Before breaking our fast in the sunset, Tant Gamila’s husband was screaming. Mama ran bare feet to their building. Baba went and came back quick with Samir. Baba said: “We will eat fava beans when it’s sunset. Samir will be with us. It’s the lentil fast. We can’t eat the chicken”.
That night Mama’s face was all wrinkled like an old woman. I felt the teers coming out of her heart not her eyes.
Mama was sobbing. She told Baba: “ First thing in the morning, I’ll go to light a big candle for Gamila in her church . You don’t object to that. Now I care less about you critisizing Sufi Muslims practice.”
Baba said: “I can’t object to it because it is not your or my religion. You will go because Gamila gave you a trust to deliver.”
Mama never stopped crying back and forth between our apartment and her friend’s. In the morning she had the will of her friend’s done.
Mama was back by the time Tant Gamila was on a glass cart pulled by six brown horses. In front of her Music. Mama shouted: “Go in peace, honey. The big candle will last until tomorrow morning. You look Gamila. I swear always Gamila even when you are leaving” The word Gamila means beautiful.
The network that Mama Co-Founded with Baba was strong. Mama’s connections of all neighbors we shared El-Ish with were at our apartment on the day of my father’s death in Ramadan with huge catering meals and a bag full of cash telling Mama: “My sister, my money is your money. you take what you need. Never asked to return any of it back. El-Ish in Egypt refers to the bread but literarily means the living.