What is to become of that boy?

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I know I will provoke most of you and will probably get no one on my side; but bear with me. Yesterday; feeling incredibly bored and really wanting to go out on a Friday evening, also, now that we are blessed with a curfew-less weekend; I thought I will go have a walk by the Nile. Spending all my life in Nasr City, walks by the Nile were very rare and greatly longed for. I got ready, took my car and drove on my way to 6th of October Bridge to find that most of the roads leading there are blocked. I did not want to go back home and really did not feel like going somewhere else. New Cairo would have been an easy choice but I really wanted to go some place where I did not have to be surrounded by concrete and honestly just wanted to be closer to a picture of Cairo that is dear to my heart.
Anyways; I got stuck for some time in Nasr City, then took the Ring Road aiming for Giza and due to my very poor sense of direction and not being able to read the signs very well before taking and exit- both of which I blame only myself for – I took the Maadi/Autostrad exit and thought to myself “it’s not a big deal, I am going out for a stroll anyway!”. I then drove through Maadi to Corniche (not an easy task for me) then drove to Manial and parked my car for a walk by the Nile. I had been driving for around an hour and a half so it took me some time to get my land legs back. I sat on a weirdly clean bench and due to a long experience in walking the streets of Cairo; I instantly shoved my headphones into my ears and started listening to loud music. I can easily ignore people’s verbal harassment this way.
The air was really heavy and was severely saturated with smoke. I could hardly breathe and was too tired to go anywhere else. And it hit me, that all through my life, I never really faced any difficulties, at least not any special difficulties. Okay, I had a hard time on my way to and back from college, I suffered for a while to find a job but none of that compares to this; and what is this exactly?
While driving; I was looking for any place I could park and walk and I kept on thinking; I can’t breathe here, I don’t feel comfortable here, I don’t belong here. And I couldn’t believe it when I felt that I did not like Cairo anymore. There was no special place for me. And for the first time in my life I felt that living abroad may not be such a horrible idea. I know I am provoking almost everyone now. But you just got to understand; I am not suffering in Egypt. I honestly don’t have most of people’s problems so far and my life is mostly easy. Of course after my usual phase of self-reproach and reminding myself of how selfish and spoilt I am and how ungrateful I am being, I remembered the little boy I saw this morning while I was walking.
Ok, you will hate me even a little more now. I recently started going biking on Friday mornings with a friend and this Friday, on my way back home after biking; I decided to take a walk. It was eight in the morning and fairly cold. There were a group of young people running and a group of bikers unloading a truck full of bikes and a little boy. A bare-footed little boy of a maximum five years of age sitting on the stone cold pavement playing with a broken toy, next to his father who sells vegetables and has a wooden box built for both of them and lined with blankets which made me think that they probably live permanently there especially that there were pots and a burner. The boy was incredible happy and not even noticing the tons of bikes belonging to the people next to him. This boy reminded me of another story that happened ten years ago. I was at my aunt’s and it was winter and really cold. It was also Friday and I decided to have my warm, delicious coffee in the balcony while being wrapped up in all sorts of wool when I saw them; two little bare-footed boys one slightly older than the other, both being less than seven years of age. One was carrying a bucket full of water and the other holding the rags and they started sweeping the staircase of the building in front of me.
I really can do without all the patronizing comments that exclaim at my alarm of “regular happenings in Egypt”, because that being regular or “norms” is what is frustrating me in the first place.
Needless to say; I felt like a worthless piece of **** recalling those two incidents. But my heart truly aches and it is harder to breathe day after day and I don’t even know what to do. If Cairo is so unlivable anymore for us, what has it become for them? Maybe we have different expectations and aspirations, but what about basic human needs. I know this is old as hell, I am even bored of me writing it down. But my heart aches differently this time. There was someone to blame before for all this social injustice. There were reasons that made us all think like victims who could not change the circumstances, but now, who else is there to blame but ME?
And what is to become of that boy? Will he become that microbus driver that fought with me and kept on banging on my car threatening to break it because I crossed him? Will he become one of the guys carrying knives, blocking roads, stealing cars and raping women? Or will he become one of those guys sleeping in the streets at night, bare-foot, with no covers in the middle of the night in a cold, windy winter? Will he be one of the people wrapped in blankets on a used wheel chair at the gates of a government hospital waiting to be inadvertently killed by an ill-skilled doctor? I am old enough to be his mother….. What do I do? What do I owe him? I can’t look the other way. My head got stuck in his direction and my eyes are fixed on him.
Is it enough that I go to work and do my part? Should I demonstrate for his rights? Will that change anything? Has it changed anything? Should I wait and see him grow to become my kids’ servant? Should I accept that to be his fate in life?

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