Every time I sit down to write I find myself drawn to this night.
I tried very hard not to start with it. I tried to start my story with a more colorful day but my mind just won't let me.
Maybe what I saw & felt that day makes it impossible for me to start from any other point in time. Maybe my story was meant to start with that day: February 2nd, the day of the camels, or for me, Bloody Wednesday.
When I left Tahrir square in the morning I left it feeling light & happy. I left it a festive place: running kids with the Egyptian flag painted on their faces, flying kites, a guy selling heart shaped balloons and thousands of smiling faces. We were chanting "The people demand the removal of the regime" .Victory was close, a few more laughs, a few more chants, a few more cold but cozy nights in Tahrir and Mubarak will be kicked out.
When I left the square, I was happy, smiling randomly at passersby.
I wanted to run home, upload all the pictures & videos I have and return quickly to Tahrir. We were going to have a family gathering there at night. The first one in months, my brother & his wife were flying back from South Africa cause they couldn't bear being away when all of this was happening.
I couldn't wait to be back. It felt like leaving a new found love impatiently anticipating our next meeting.
I went home, took a shower, started uploading the videos, turned on the TV and froze.
The scene that greeted me was surreal. Camels & horses storming in Tahrir square, some protesters attempting to stop them, others running. It was total chaos and in all that army tanks seem ridiculously useless.
I called my family to check on them, my mother -like always- laughingly insisted they are all fine, but I couldn't stand not being there. So I grabbed my phone, called the doctors on field to check what medical supplies they need and headed back to Tahrir.
My first stop was the field hospital: Ruptured eyes, broken limbs, all sorts of cut wounds, and already 3 were dead.
I saw Shadi, the young brother of my childhood friend, and one of my young sister's gang , he had stitches right above his eye & a swollen bruise. He smiled & hugged me, assuring me that all will be well.
I braced myself with his smile as I entered the square. But no smiles could have prepared me for the change that took place in Tahrir.
It was a war zone:
Masses of people running back & forth,
fire balls dropping at us from the sky,
non stop banging on metal, like drums of war.
and on the side army soldiers motionlessly watching.
Then the real horror began!
|Typo: I meant army not intervening|
I heard the shots, saw people running to the battle front by the Egyptian museum, ambulance storming in as 3 were carried in it, severely injured. A forth person followed, but as this one was carried, loud chants of " La ilah ela Allah" – No god but Allah- could be heard, informing us that we've just lost another, that another name has just been added to our growing list of martyrs.
Finally the army soldiers made a move, they went inside their tanks & locked themselves in!
The shooting continued as masses of young men walked bravely to face their death unarmed, grabbing anything from the trash on the ground to use as a shield.
Nothing sadder than watching young men triumphantly facing their deaths, to liberate us from the lunacies of a greedy dying man.
The battle continued for hours, more than 10 people died and tens were injured that day to win us back our freedom.
Tahrir could never be the same place after this night, and I have irrevocably changed. I developed a deep rooted anger towards the army for not preventing the death of innocents, but I also gained a warm glow of blind faith in the people of Tahrir. They are my people and among them is my Egypt.
When morning finally arrived people of Tahrir greeted it with songs & laughter. It was such a heartwarming scene, hundreds of wounded limping people smiling, chanting, & saluting one another for making it through a bloody night.
Then crowds started filling Tahrir square. I ran to the top of one of the buildings overlooking the square and I saw them: Thousands marching like in pilgrimage, all seeking Tahrir .
I cried as I breathed in relief: Our battle continues, we'll bring Mubarak down.