“I will die today, so Egypt can live tomorrow”

“I will die today, so Egypt can live tomorrow” read a placard held by one of the protesters in Tahrir Square as I sat in front of my computer for the second consecutive day. A stream of pictures – of people waving flags and chanting – flashed nonstop on the television screen a couple of meters away from my desk. I was keen on knowing how my Egyptian friends looked at the unfolding drama, through their Facebook status messages and twitter feeds.

I was eager to know what was going to happen.

Then, there was the news of Mubarak’s address to the nation. But, alas, after a much-awaited speech, the Farewell Friday dawned with much anger and huge disappointment.

It was the third Friday, 18th consecutive day, for the thousands of protesters. As the day wearied away, I began to attend to other domestic affairs, losing interest in the on-going saga. I watched the Egyptians in Saudi Arabia, praising Mubarak and his 30-year regime on television.

The revolution seemed going nowhere.

I remember Hussain. My copywriter, a good 15 years ago, in Dubai. He had just joined the agency as my team-mate; it was his first time in the real world of advertising. We were pitching for KFC business. Sitting opposite in my office, he would occasionally pause to light his pipe and we would wander in to conversations that took me to the mysterious past of the Nile civilization. We would brag about our pasts and heritage, share our thoughts and agree on alien invasions – for one obvious reason: the intelligent people who built the pyramids or the flying machine that took Ravana to India, no longer existed. They were abducted: there was no other way to explain the common stupidity that prevailed in our countries. The chaos, the madness and the people’s optimism to rise beyond adversity, brought Egypt and my Paradise closer to each other. Hussain and I became very good friends. We had ancient civilizations to boast about and Western Empires to blame on everything that went wrong.

Sometimes, in the middle of a sentence that he was crafting, Hussain would stop to protest. “I cannot lie about this lump of lard. It’s unhealthy, horrible and shouldn’t be sold to kids. How dare you’d expect me to say that KFC is finger likin’ good..?” he would grumble.

Like many thousands of people who gathered at Tahrir Square today, my Egyptian friend was a God-fearing man. I had to brain-wash him and nurse him back to the deceitful and manipulative world of advertising, in many such occasions.

Then I remember the pretty ones from our network. Rezan and Yosr carried the evidence that Cleopatra or Nefertiti were, in fact, real people. They were gorgeous, beautiful people, inside and out.

Maya, Heba, Rania... my colleagues of yesteryear – they are very much like the Sri Lankans. They are happy people, who have learned to be optimistic amidst the constraints and restrictions. We faced common threats, we behaved in similar fashion in many ways. If their car bumped in to another – which is a common occurrence in jam-packed Cairo – they wouldn’t even bother getting the police involved. Their cops were as ‘good’ as ours.

In the last few days, leading to the events that brought down Hosni Mubarak, there was some unbelievable spirit of solidarity building up. The youth of the Arab World was with the people of Egypt. One of my dearest friends wrote “Viva La Revoluciona!!!” on her wall while another friend of mine sat sleepless throughout the nights, waiting for the change to happen. These were young Saudi women, supporting a cause. “I’m proud of my brothers and sisters of Egypt” read another message. There were many millions of similar sentiments expressed in Arabic, on Facebook, YouTube and every imaginable mode of communication.

Egypt, needed change.

And change has come to Egypt. In a most unprecedented manner, with minimum blood-shed, a revolution has taken place right before our eyes.

In the God-fearing, system-abiding, Arab World, this is much more significant than anywhere else.

“There are many lessons behind the days, long hours, and the events that took us all through what seemed like a never ending emotional roller coaster... FAITH!! We never have to loose FAITH in JUSTICE, we need to take all those lessons along to next stage :)” – wrote one of my Egyptian friends, on her wall as fireworks lit up the night sky in Tahrir Square.

The picture is ‘stolen’ from here: http://kalamu.posterous.com/


  1. Love the post. Egyptians are smart and have a lot of perseverance, and I hope they'll be able to create a real government 'of the people, for the people'. :)

  2. egyptians are bad ass. that is all.

  3. It really did feel quite magical to watch it unfold right in front of our eyes.

  4. Chavie, the biggest question is, who’s next? In the political chess-board, we have to see which move America makes - taking in account the Israeli-Egyptian relations and its impact on the region. Another pro-American government with some strings attached..? My uneducated guess is, “Of the people, for the people” seems quite far at this stage.

    LOL@ Gadgetgirl

    Jerry: True. I would have liked to see some more blood and body parts tho. This ‘revolution’ is far too Gandhi-like. :P