Thursday, December 1, 2011

It wasn’t my revolution until I got gassed

Today seems to be the last day of November 2011, it is not seems, but better just be skeptical about that fact just as well as everything else. Tomorrow brings December, and on the 13th I will be 25. In less than two weeks I should be celebrating a major birthday, number of years that seems significant, I was sure that should be a major birthday because I will be 25, I’m not sure about that number of years as much as I am sure about the only fact I choose to believe in…2011 is different. I find it under-estimating to simply say the clichéd the world is going crazy, I believe there is something cosmically different, a certain kind of balance is not there anymore, and as simple as “different” sounds, I find it very expressive to how all differences are not that “different”.
So hard to put that year in words, simple reference can be mentioned…what I saw in theory had nothing to do with what I feel now.
It wasn’t my revolution until I got gassed… My revolution- not meaning a personal one I go through in life- Jan25th revolution is my Nov19th revolution, with all respect to all suffering and winning we have been through, revolution is not one for me if I didn’t go through it fully hearted, being a feminist and a troubled young woman I have no choice but that the personal is political and vice versa.
Nov19 was my cousin’s engagement and another day with the flu that left me at home, neither partying nor protesting but boiling with anger.
Nov20 I went down, with an activist who is now a friend, but with a misuse of twitter, I have put my number publicly and so unintentionally, started a tiny level of coordination between some people who wanted to send supplies to the field hospitals and some of doctor friends there.
Nov20 I got gassed for the first time entering Mohamed Mahmoud to help those out there fighting and getting gassed by spraying their eyes and faces with the medical options given by the doctors.
Nov20 and 21st were warzones…for me they were warzones I was able to handle and take in. The only troubling fact was how a few streets away from Mohamed Mahmoud and when that civil war taking place was further pushed to Falaki Square, there were traffic stops with policemen giving traffic tickets as if nothing is happening.
Absurd reality is what I saw.
Nov20 and 21st were humane for me; I wasn’t scared from the gas or the presumable rubber bullets, I was scared from being beaten, from physically confronting someone who might use excessive force on my body.
I wasn’t scared to tell my parents I went in Mohamed Mahmoud, didn’t make sense to me that “they” the 77 activists would object, I simply chose not to see the fear in their eyes and chose to take my mum’s question about what she would do if I was shot by a bullet as a comic one that I would simply reply to that I went near the gas not near the bullets. I simply chose to disregard my dad’s worry that someone would call him and tell him something happened to me. I simply found comfort that in the hour or so I spent at home before sleeping I would look at my nephew from afar so that I would keep the gas away. I chose to listen to my sister’s inquiry about certain personal livelihood details while running to the field hospital to get more spray because regardless everything it made perfect sense. I chose to disregard sexual harassment even though I work on sexuality and sexual rights because I felt that gender and feminism are much more –in my humble opinion – than; girls get harassed and guys get bombed. I chose to feel the guilt for spending that much time away from my mum, who needs me because it made perfect sense, I chose to feel bad for an acquaintance who was with us the first day when I heard she got spasms because it made perfect sense, I chose the people I was with because I had no other choice, because I would never make any other choice given I could, because I would be dead by now if it weren’t for them, because they make a perfectly sensible nuclear dynamic. But then, perfect sense only seems complete insanity.
I don’t make any sense to me most of the time, mind games seem one hell of twisted surviving mechanism.
Nov22 was different. The day was long… when there was no more sun, I went with someone to Mohamed Mahmoud, we were bombed, we suffered from temporary blindness, and we went to a near restaurant owned by one of the bravest women ever. I was feeling very tired, I couldn’t speak but made sure that my parents thought I was fine, I couldn’t feel my heart beats but I wanted to believe I was self-composed, I suffer from weak bronchial to start with and am a heavy smoker. I am over dramatic. But I was feeling very tired, something was seriously wrong. I was trying to feel composed. The person who was with me while the bombing was taking place left and I shed two tears. I called Yara, told her I felt my heart was going to stop, I felt I was going to die and she hurried to me with Ramy. She sent him to buy milk and carbon tablets, these are the things we knew would help, there were acquaintances there. I started having spasms. They made me lay down. There was a doctor there. They started calling friends. Yara was holding my legs, the doctor gave me a shot and some acquaintances were taking turns blowing air in my way, my friend’s friend was holding my head. The spasms were very severe. They had to hold my body tight and especially my head. The spams were very strong and my head might have been injured had that friend not held it hard enough not to hit the walls. My friends came. My friends came for me, they saved my life. The saved my life at least by the way they were worried, my friends (family) saved my life each by doing what they knew best, a friend, Pence -family…Only seem fair to believe they are my family, Nazra ,as home is where the heart is…, full stop- drove through the gas to take me to a hospital. I wasn’t left alone, friends answered my phone telling my parents I was fine but taking a shower from the gas. They took me to the Coptic hospital. They went through a fight and gave their own IDs and not mine because we were told hospitals hand in people who go by effects of “Tahrir”, they were there.
Pence and Mozn drove me to Salma’s to spend the night. I wanted to go to any friend who lived in downtown, I wanted to be there, but as the doctor said if I smelt gas there will be serious consequences. Much serious than the bronchial infection I had. I couldn’t go home like that. I had to spend the night at my friend in Dokki. I was already half sedated. I had a doctor friend (Shady) in the field hospital that was with us on phone all the time, to make sure I was okay. I went to Salma’s, had enough minutes to tell my parents I’ m still at Yara’s because it wasn’t safe to leave and I didn’t want to change the story we already told them. Salma’s mum, was trying to help me get settled, I felt something was wrong, I felt the room was getting smaller and my head was itching and something was on my back. I kept calling for Salma who was getting me water for the medication. For the moment I was left alone, I called Shady, telling him something is seriously wrong, he told me I had to sleep it’s a side effect from the gas. Everything that happened in the next hour and half I only remembered after, dozing off from time to time, I suffered from paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal attempt, I had no control over what I felt or said. As I now remember, I believed Salma gave me water with gas and that red coughing medication was blood for the vampires, Winnie the pooh poster wanted to eat me like the honey it was eating, I threatened Salma that if she didn’t get me an ashtray I would beat the life out of her, and I had the chance between the lapses to call Mozn and tell her she had to come and take me because they were beating me and electrifying me. I then totally lost it and didn’t even know Salma, my 8 years friend had to sit in front of me and try to make me remember our college days, Salma after everything she was going through had to stand between me and the window because I was convinced that from her flat on the 6th floor I could simply get out of the window and go home. Mozn came I didn’t know her and shouted at her, she shouted back, I started crying , she took me in her arms and I started crying hysterically. I told her they wanted to kill me. Mozn and Salma took me down to Pence’s car to go to the hospital; I wanted to get out of the car. I didn’t believe them, but they didn’t lie to me, they took me to a near hospital, by then I started gaining consciousness, a doctor prescribed tranquillizers for me. We drove Salma home, and drove to Maadi to Pence’s home…I slept.
Nov23rd, I insisted on going back to downtown, sitting outdoors but not near the gas, went back to the same restaurant as if heading back to the scene of the crime, I didn’t feel I was ready to go home yet, and my parents still thought I was at Yara’s.
Since then and I am wondering, if we consider what is happening as chaos, how come there is this level of composition that is preventing us all from carrying weapons and tearing the police and army to pieces. I believed that the only way out is violence, I wanted to literally kill any police or army officer I would see. I still believe armed attack is the only way, it just feels sad when my friends tell me that this kind of chaos doesn’t bring about armed attack because it needs the most radical organizational efforts that no one is ready for, I thought that fear and anger would bring people to arms but apparently not! I go out now with my own perception of self-defense and fear the moment I might use it. I am over dramatic, but I want my right back and the right of those I saw get shot and gassed. Being back at the restaurant there was gas nearby, the one thing I fear most in my life now, I fear it because my respiratory system is chronically damaged, I fear it because I can’t fight it or hurt it. I had another panic attack. My dad called, he was nearby, I told him what happened, he picked me up and took me home. I chose to see the fear in his eyes, but didn’t choose to accept it nor what he said that we can all do different things according to our own qualifications or limitations. I will not choose to see myself impotent.
I went home to mum, she took me in. She said she is thankful that it wasn’t as bad as she has been expecting.
Next morning talking with my dad on the phone, I made it clear I didn’t understand how the man who used the cheese they fed them in prison to write on prison walls would tell me I couldn’t defend my rights as I saw best. I told him being overweight didn’t prevent me from running as fast as anyone, having weak lungs I would do it all over again and will not let anyone take that away from me. I now know I can’t face the gas, but that’s just one weapon they use against us.
Nov24th I went to work. I felt bad. I didn’t want to feel weak but was still scared of the gas, I couldn’t understand how anyone wouldn’t see the gravity of the situation but didn’t want any pity, I felt ashamed at myself feeling that troubled and unstable when people were losing their eyes and get beaten and arrested and still go on. I felt bad because I couldn’t and still fully can’t concentrate, my perception was (till yesterday) very slow. I felt that part in my brain responsible for processing information wasn’t working (still not fully functioning). I felt mentally dysfunctional. I felt guilty and self-pity. I feared the moment I would collapse. I felt bad for those who were and are still there for me, putting them through hell.
Nov25th, I went to the square and to the prime ministry sit-in. same feelings, different day. Same worry when passing by a street that smelt funny, same stops I had to take to use the inhaler. I had the same lack of sleep and coughing in the middle of the night with drops of blood.
Nov26th, I went down the square and to the prime ministry, nothing different…same fears of going home, same fears of not being around my friends, same feeling of the need to be self-composed and the same incapability. Only with more tensed feelings and edgy mood.
Nov27th, I went back to work, we all did. I spent the longest hours possible at the office, not necessarily doing something productive, but incapable of leaving the office, feeling as a burden, feeling retarded. Fearing the moment someone would snap at me that they had enough of it. I tried to work, I did try.
Nov28th, I couldn’t reach my polling station, it was a maze and I wouldn’t have been able to stand there for hours, my back didn’t hurt much, but I had problems standing for long or sitting because I had string in my back. I went to work. Same dilemma, same trials to work. Same shame from the women human rights defenders, but I snapped, I cried, hysterically in Doaa’s arms … She said I had to cry, asked me if I cried since Tuesday, I did for my lost ear-ring, the cigarette, for the trees that are not there anymore around my home, but not for me, she insisted I’d cry, I did … home, I cried in my mother’s arms and slept with tears in her arms.
Nov29th, I voted, I went to State Council with our team working on Samira Ibrahim’s case against the military council virginity tests. Went back to work, while parking I spent 10 minutes trying to understand the hour the valet wrote on the piece of paper he handed me and then I fought with him because I believed he wrote the wrong hour but it was a simple and correct 1 o’clock. I tried to work, I did try, but then I snapped, I cried again. I couldn’t leave work until 10:00pm, took Fatma and wanted to take 6th of October Bridge but couldn’t go through Abdel Monam Riad square; we went to Dokki and had dinner for the second time. I couldn’t go home, had a couple of rounds around Tahrir and made Fatma take a cab and went to Tahrir. I parked in downtown, called Omnia who was in the square and decided to meet her. I went there because people were being beaten and I didn’t believe its right to leave, but I went when things were already calmer, but I had to go more than anything because I couldn’t stay scared. My friends knew and had me go home, I was intolerant to Yehia’s fear for me, I understand he was worried about me, but I couldn’t handle feeling impotent. That moment didn’t just get me over my fear if that feeling is true to start with, but mostly I cornered myself, if I made a conscious choice to go down the square again against everyone’s judgment, if I chose to act brave while I was scared like hell; then I can’t wake up next morning with the same weakness and need for excessive care. I went home, made them sure I was safe and slept… thinking, if I went back I can’t reverse the little strength I regained if that feeling is true to start with, if I went back then I can’t go back to the time before midnight with all the psychosis I carried within, still neurotic but a little back.
Nov30, today I feel much better, I am much more focused, more relaxed and still tired and troubled, still over dramatic and intolerant to feeling impotent still feel guilt and self-pity, and no one can see me through my eyes no matter how hard I try simply because it’s not sane no matter how much it makes sense.
I got gassed and had my revolution, but it won’t be a full one until we can dance.
I had my revolution and hope it doesn’t end at that!!
Wednesday 30\11\2011

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