Friday, January 9, 2009

Triumphant Sun, Pt. 16

I hope to be bringing regular updates throughout the New Year - 52 minimum, inshallah. That's my resolution, and I'm sticking to it if it kills me.

It may yet kill me.

Also, if anyone who was in Egypt can remind me of the name of those delicious fried-dough pastries people had for breakfast, I'd be much obliged. I can't find a reference in my blog, diary, or on the internet.

Edit - fateer! I remembered.



Evan munched contentedly on his fateer, watching the flow of pedestrians eddy and flow around the chaos of the sidewalks. An old woman leaned against the cracking plaster of the wall down the street, wrapped in black rags and a white hijab, proffering a lined hand for alms. Her eyes gazed into the middle distance with the vague confusion of the almost blind. Evan counted out the change from Hamid and placed it in her outstretched palm.

Shukran, shukran ya basha,” she began to thank Evan.

“No, it's nothing.” Evan walked to the corner and finished his breakfast, leaning against the dusty wall. He felt a vague sense of guilt eating next to the blind woman. She couldn't see him and his meal was as common and basic as they came, he couldn't help feeling over-indulgent as he licked the last of the honey from his fingers. The sun was beginning to peek over the rooftops, sending bars of light cascading down the street, and on an impulse, Evan decided to take a cab down to Islamic Cairo. He wouldn't find a lead there – far from it – but at present, the dry heat and buzz of the city made him wish for nothing more than to sit in the shade of an alley and pass the day smoking shisha and reading.

Evan knew he ought to try to hunt down someone at the Mogamma, but the idea of spending the day in the faded, claustrophobic rooms of that hellish building was too daunting. He stepped to the corner and flagged down a taxi that was slowing to a halt in front of the café across the street. Ducking under the sill, he slipped into the bead-covered back seat.

A woman stood frozen in the opposite door of the cab, half crouched in the act of entering the car. She wore a broad, brightly patterned teal headscarf that draped loosely around the lower half of her hair and western jeans tucked into high leather boots. For a moment she made as if to tug her scarf up around the loose waves of hair gleaming blackish red in the sun, then dropped them to her side and seated herself beside him

“Sorry...” began Evan in Arabic.

“It's fine. I'm going to the American University,” she said brusquely in English. “You?”

Evan was taken aback by the sudden switch in language. “How'd you know I speak English?” was all he could blurt out.

She looked him up and down, her grey-green irises raking quickly across him. A smile twitched at her mouth. “It's obvious. So, where are you going?”

The cab driver turned around and stared at the two. “Excuse me, but where to?”

“The American University is fine,” said Evan. “That's close to where I'm going.” He turned back to the woman, still staring at him with suspicion in her eyes and amusement on her lips. “Sorry, but I'm very inconsiderate. My name is Evan Rochester.” He proffered his hand.

She shook it lightly, her hands dry and slightly cool. “Samira Mohammed Crane.”

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