Monday, September 3, 2012

Revolution of Pirates / A story of thugs and the Egyptian Revolution - Mahmoud Mansi

Revolution of Pirates
By: Mahmoud Mansi
Sucking the perfumed air through the nostrils of his nose, he roared upon the waste of his wealth. The smell of rubbish always made him feel home, and reminded him of how much he loathed this home of his, but he had no enough room for choices and feelings.

This perfume was a blend of rotten food, decaying animals, human waste, nature’s pollution and bacteria. It gathered the secrets of homes and evidence of massive amounts of misused money… but rarely when one finds money in its real monetary shape that is birthed in the central bank, cherished and nursed in the other banks. He sarcastically wondered: why would people prefer to find excuses to spend or waste their money? These piles of garbage are all packs of wasted sacrificed money that he could have had in his pockets instead, to feed his hungry family and not sadistically watching it fed to the mouths of the ungrateful streets.

He kept walking, not away from this perfume-like smell, but deeper and deeper into it, until he reached his house. Strange those who own money, they find luxury in buying what they don’t need and in throwing part of it, and paralyzing the rest in their bank accounts.

One can learn much from staring at others’ rubbish and crap, analyzing what they need and what they don’t need, knowing their capabilities, social class, morals and what value of information they carry, exactly as a physician can know from the solid and liquid wastes of a human being, scrutinizing them in a laboratory. One would sure know the amount one eats, the amount digested, the amount needed, one would know which body function is not working well, and if this person is greedy or not… The laboratory of human beings is their garbage can. This was the way AbdRabo thought, a robust Egyptian, living in a society that was never introduced to either his country or to the world, a society that only exists in Egypt, yet unnoticed by Egyptians, they are only classified under the wrong names. The government gathered all the wastes and garbage of the city and threw them in this area. AbdRabo and his people lived among these piles of dirt and found a way to survive there. He and his kind were like the roaches that fed on the harmful bacteria growing within the society. They were found there for a reason, an ecological one that balances everything, though people might see them ugly, disgusting, useless and they might be very much loathed and neglected too. However, one of the businesses AbdRabo’s family ran was the collection of the different elements of garbage and making it useful in one way or the other, it was the only kind of wealth they could collect.

The facial details of AbdRabo would not matter much, though they look very special and inspiring, however what matters more is the story which created such details over time. Events in life do have a way in sculpting the way one looks, and they do leave a permanent print on these faces. Babies usually have the same face when birthed, and then it changes. They do fool us with the DNA bullshit and such scientific theories, not knowing that life creates science and not the other way around. AbdRabo, a simple Egyptian man, unknown, not existing to the whole world, but a thinker with great philosophy of which if written or implemented would perhaps make him the richest man on Earth, or a dead corpse laying on its back and refused by the people of the same Earth.

He entered his home to find it twinkling with loud voices. He ignored all the sources and delved deeper into the grave of his own, until he found all his family, friends and neighbors celebrating. He did not know the reason indeed, strange to suddenly find people in your house, but he was used to that. He walked through all while trying to keep himself as invisible as possible until he would reach the door of his room, but of course he failed to keep this rhythm to the very end. For sure he would fail, even though he was enshrouded with his Arab veil, yet some people in life do shine as a shooting star does and captures all the hearts when seen by its viewers, especially when one makes a wish. It was his cousin who spotted him first and stopped him to pass a warm salute and a sincere ‘congratulations’.

“We finally did it cousin!”

“What is it exactly that we’ve done?”

“The Revolution! The Government! The System! And how can we deny that this is all because of you our great godfather…”

“And this is why you mother fuckers are making my house as crowded as a pig yard?”

“Pigs! God forbid, it’s just that there is no better and suitable place but yours…”

“And I thought this was an engagement party or a proposal…” AbdRabo pushed his cousin away with anger that everyone in the room noticed. He stared at them, with his elegant power and earned pride, revealing the fierce eyes that sometimes tend to be unkind and said, “Are you coming to congratulate me before we even start working! You think this is a revolution which occurred? You think this is the shit that would bring us back our buried rights? The efforts we have put into this revolution will only bring their rights, but never ours, the people who live above us; the human beings, but to them we are only animals, donkeys, horses and cows that pull and transport their heavy stuff, and we will remain this way to those who are valuable and those who are not as long as we feel happiness for something that never affects us, for something that we never owned before, exactly as – excuse my language – a dog does when he moves his tail just because his owner is happy or excited about anything silly. This revolution was done against the government and the system, and against our enemies there, but it was not sufficient at all, because the lost rights we possess are nearly countless. The dirty government planted its dirt within the hearts of people, not only on the surface of their bodies. The government knew that this would happen someday, thus through delegating their sick minds to some of the people, this would make their evil live for longer. Our hands are spotless from their hypocrisy, and I want to tell you that our rights will come pretty soon, but starting in our homes by praying is not enough at all. God deserves more than that! Not to worry, we will find much time for celebrating later, good night people…”

After this night speech, AbdRabo went to the bathroom and washed his hands, face, arms and feet, then went to perform his prayers. His wife speaking to him in a mocking way, “I wonder, is this the Isha Prayers or the Sunna ones after midnight? Sheikh AbdRabo!”

He laughed with a grim, “And what difference would it make woman! as long as I am bowing to God in both cases? Do you think God Almighty will leave one of his servants bowing before Him, and will wonder if he or she is bowing for the sake of Isha prayers or the after midnight ones?”

“Wouldn’t you think that it would have been better if you peed the beer you drank first?” She laughed.

“(La takrabo al salah wa antom sokara)[1], ya homarah[2]!”

The wife continued laughing and lighted the Bekhor[3], “The world is taking your mind away these days, not only the contemporary world, but all the years that passed by, the past of each one of us. We are all handing you our burdens to lift for us, we all confess our weakness, but we are all living within the castle walls of your thick and wide heart and contemplating every single particle of feelings flowing within the chambers of your castle. Come here my dear…”

He looked at her in silence, but his eyes glittering like those of a child, and then he surrendered to her hug.


The beggar moved to the pavement that captivated more attention and sat there to start her new day, as she believed that a human being must see at least a small particle of misery with each day. She used to say that to her granddaughter while teaching her the codes of the job and its importance, “My sweetheart, our mission is difficult, there is no engineer or doctor that could perform it.”

The little girl answered, “But grandma, I don’t want to learn begging.”

“Silly you, I am not telling you to become a beggar, I am merely teaching you something that would add benefit to you in any field you want to work in. I’m teaching you a gift not a skill, and who knows, maybe – God forbid – life tightens and darkens your path, same as it did with mine…”

The old lady remembered all this while flashing a sweet smile in the spot she rested in. Through this ‘job’ of hers, she was only asking for a favor or a kind of help, either the other party responded or ignored. “It’s a job that is full of honesty and provides good feelings to the people; the givers…” she thought.

She kept being stable waiting for God to lean the hearts of the passersby, but no one donated with even a simple look, “Maybe people do not need such good feelings anymore…” she thought. “Those dogs only admire spending their money in gambling and games only, but to them we are not even worth a good word.”

She stood up and went back home, leaving her work behind.


AbdRabo walked to the Kahwa[4], wearing all black, where he found Belya[5] telling him good morning while carrying a Sheesha[6], “I prepared it loaded this time our master, and please be generous and accept it as a gift from me…”

Hashish has its own time and mood Alewah[7], make it a plain cup of coffee, and let us hear the Fatha[8] from you.”

AbdRabo started tasting the coffee until he finished half of the cup while profoundly being in depth with something unfamiliar to his observers. He acted as if he stopped thinking when his followers showed up, each wearing a different outfit which reflected the different jobs and endeavors each was going through.

They said to one another, “Strange, the master came early today, and he is not smoking the special thing…”

AbdRabo stared at them, “You are late…”

“But we came exactly on time, and how can we ever dare to be late on you?”

“I didn’t mean myself, but you were late in your decisions, and I came early today to light this candle and let you see what lies beneath it…”

Ahmed spoke, who was one of his best friends and most loyal followers, not only a cousin. Ahmed was silent the whole time, although his heart wanted to say much yet his tongue always controlled itself. This was all part of his personality not only part of the current situation. However after the internal endeavor he managed to unearth part of his thoughts, “But… I think we waited because we wanted to, we are not late at all.” He said so because he felt some agony behind AbdRabo’s stony tone.

“Don’t spoil the surprise and fire blank shots or I will fire a hole in this soul of yours,” AbdRabo said then he looked at Belya, “Now is the right time for the ‘special mood’…”

One of the listeners said, “You made us curious indeed. You know quite well that we are real MEN, always behind you, even if we will have to cross through Hell or even if it was the destination itself, exactly as the soldiers of the Pharaoh walked right behind him into the heart of the Red Sea. Of course I mean metaphorically speaking, with respect to our good intentions.”

Ahmed hit the guy who spoke with his elbow, while on the other hand Belya finally appearing with the sheesha. AbdRabo calm as ice, manipulating the coal of the sheesha while going on with his conversation, “We are actually going into the heart of the sea, but we are tough, we will come out of it with all its treasures carried on our back for our country and children.”

“And where is this Solomon treasure that we are speaking about?”

AbdRabo finally drew a very calm and sly smile on his face while sucking the first smoky air of his sheesha after he spent minutes trying to tame its taste as much as possible. They all observed him as they started laughing with relaxation.


Fire dominated the place, and flames cursed its inhabitants, reddish streets, exploding sounds, alien voices, reeks of fear, adrenaline, hunger, satisfaction… this was only a launch of a Molotov, and these descriptions were merely the reflection of one’s sick mind and cured heart.

The narrow streets were crowded with people, undefined people, but mainly they all looked like AbdRabo and his fellow gang, yeah they did, same alike faces, language, skin color, body, and of course the same savage, uncivilized spirit… that is what an observer would have said, just an observer, just another reader checking the world under a veil of eyeglasses with a slight taste of sarcasm, right before going to sleep or on the way to work, that is when life becomes just another comic book that is far away from one’s daily routine until reality would accidently or intentionally reach the front door and break it without knocking or taking permission… that is exactly what happened to the government in the first revolution, and that is exactly what is happening now in the underground revolution, AbdRabo thought and shared with his followers while burning the street together. This was him indeed, standing as usual, roaring as he always did when excited, his brothers were around him and in front of him along the extension of the street, all swaying their weapons as if they were tribes of cannibals. There were sounds of gunshots and louder ones of the Tok-Tok songs. One of them walked proudly while wearing a dozen of female necklaces, stolen by his bare hands that never touched any kind of a shiny metal ever. There was a sword in his right hand, swaying it as his ego accelerated, same as the degree of humiliation in the rich ones did. On the other side of the street there was a drunk gangster walking along, and while holding his bottle and dancing with it between the flames of fire he shouted, “Today we will finally live, breathe and sleep, and from now on, with each night that passes we will keep you up and worry you with our snoring.”

Images of anger were surely captured by many photographers on such a night, taken without cameras, but imprinted in the book of memories that does not need a tangible picture for memory recovery.

Insanity was in the air, half of the Earth celebrating and the other half in agony, only this time it was flipped.


Not very long after the implementation of AbdRabo’s plan did he gather all his people; all the wives and husbands, widows and widowers, and served them this speech:

“Our parents refused to clean us and make us work for them, they refused to teach us the words of books of which we need not, but they indeed taught us manhood and raised us up till we became real men; poor, hungry and stubborn… all for a reason, which is being a living proof for the crimes that has been happening against us by this infernal society from before our birth. These crimes defaced our fathers and grandfathers. We were raised this way to only understand what has been happening in this country, not only understand but experience what it feels like, so that when this day comes; to finally unite and rise, we would not only tend to defend our rights, but the rights of those people who are filling the hollowness of our graveyards and feeding them their lives. We will finally have the chance to write the real history of this country, the forbidden true one that was never written in books or spoken in public. True, we are folks who are not educated at all, yet we are never fooled like all the engineers, professors, doctors, hawanem[9] and bakawat[10]… today our voice will echo in each home in Egypt, and will vibrate in each Egyptian heart…”


Chaos was the new seed that finally endeavored to penetrate its crust and conquer the earth with its roots. The thugs were everywhere and their voices were louder than ever. Fear of people was smelled by all creatures. The ‘Baltagiya’ became the new topic all the news channels and papers gossiped about. Those thugs made it internationally too, when the foreign media spread their deeds and delivered their piracy to the other half of the world.

AbdRabo looked upon his kingdom, beyond the crowds circulating around him, to check upon those who were far from the center of his power, at those who were roaming within the farthest of his kingdom’s boundaries. He found one of his followers lifting a sword up to the level of his eyes and staring at the falling drops of blood slipping from its blade while madly laughing. He looked more to find others who gathered upon one of the felool[11] hitting him, taking his money then leaving him go away.


The rest of AbRabo’s speech:

“Out there, we hear them speak about human rights and racism, and here we are cursed to live under the authority of people who are not aware of those who are living above and beneath them. We became hungry and no one filled our stomachs, we did mistakes and no one punished us, we died from diseases and no one mourned us. The religious sects accused us of infidelity and called each one of us a kaffir, and the businessmen bankrupt us, and from the forbidden they deprived us. Our children couldn’t buy the decent wine, so they sniffed glue, they couldn’t have sex so they rapped…”


AbdRabo lit a cigarette with pride and said, “Now we can start celebrating. Now we have the right to.”

He drove one of the stolen cars and a few others joined and followed him. They were all drunk and firing random shots from their pistols on the buildings and in the air, and sometimes at the vehicles of one another. “The country belonged to the government for thirty years, and in eighteen days it was owned by ones who called themselves ‘the people’, but in one day only, it became ours…”


They gathered once again in the Kahwa, but this time each was wearing normal clothes instead of their work outfits. For this became their new job and endeavor. Even when they gained much money from robbing the banks and people, but this was never defined as an enough bribe to buy their morals and the revolution they started.

“What is new, folks? What shall we do with this treasure of gold, money and pride?”

Ahmed said, “We will fill with them our hungry stomachs and offer some medicine to our bodies so we can complete our fresh journey.”

AbdRabo threw one of the golden bracelets on the floor, “Satan will not bribe us as he bribed them and shut their voices off. Now let’s have a tour to visit the museums that we have never seen of our beloved new country.”


Two of the thugs were speaking under the shades of darkness and between the shadows of the monstrous buildings of the city. One of them wondered openly within the solitude of the street, “Is it true that El-Mealem[12] wants to attack the museums?”

The other replied, “Brother, have you ever seen the monuments of our country?”

“Only on T.V…”

“This means we are still not sure if the things we see in the local channels are our real monuments or not? We never saw what is beyond the walls of the museums, we barely memorize their names. Maybe the government is fooling us in this too? Maybe they are all fake monuments…”

“Yeah why not! Have you ever been to one of these museums?”

“There was once a time when my mind was blocked and everything was odd, the trees seemed like angels of death and the air they breathed lacked ambition. I knew that it was not a day for a struggling fighter like myself, it was a day for one who was already written in the pages of destiny as a victorious being. I knew that it was not one of those days when you can make money or even earn some, thus I decided to take the day off and walk aimlessly. I found an old prestigious building and I knew it was a museum, and I became sure when I read the sign. I still don’t remember the name of it though. Anyway, while I was waiting for my turn in one of those ‘lines’ that slaves in the old days used to row in them in order to get their meal, clothes and exchange a few meaningless words and silent looks with those who have authority. I barely handled the feeling till I noticed the looks that other people gave to me. They were staring at me as if I carried a different religion and belong to another country, as if the clothes I am wearing are not of a human being. I felt naked, I felt like an Aawra[13] right among them. I simply walked away and returned to my home instead. I never felt that these monuments belonged to our country. I have always felt that they were understood and owned by others…”

The other man thought and contemplated, “So this would not be stealing?”

He chuckled, “Is it possible that one can steal from himself you drunk freak? These things belong to us, and now we are calling for our long forgotten rights…”

“Huh, so true. It would have been much logical if they judged the ones who took our monuments out of the country that are spread all over the world where each tourist is a witness on this robbery!”


In the murkiness of the museum, while the slight light was glaring upon the ancient statues, the faces of the ancient kings and queens seemed like the only source of light, sparkling like pieces of gold. AbrRabo stood there stating back at them with his eyes sparking back.

“By the will of God we made it. It’s true that we vanquished our enemies, but the final artistic touch that should be left in end is still missing. This will be the mark that they will always remember us with. I have sent a letter to the ones who are responsible, demanding that WE would have our own political point of view and create our own political party where others can listen to us and criticize our plans. We will have this chance that one day we will have the ability to ask for our rights as Egyptians and make this country better with the philosophy of our ancestors along with ours. Think about it, we are the ones living down, we are the ones in direct contact with the earth of this land, but they are the ones living in high towers, moving from one place to another while breathing the air-conditioned air. And one of the biggest pieces of evidence is that we have added a new word to the world’s contemporary dictionary, which is ‘Baltageya’. None of the educated ones of our own country succeeded in adding or even removing anything from the global world. They had no influence at all, as if our country didn’t even exist on the map of this world. We have to attack some more areas just to assure the success of our revolution, but without causing any damages this time…”


Five of the thugs walked through one of the city streets, fearless among the other people, each was carrying a sword and an armor. They first started by making noise and terrorizing the natives of the street with their loud curses. The Civil Resistance descended from their homes and circled around the thugs, each carrying a different weapon. Both sects started a fierce fight and the natives killed two of the thugs.

The reaming three returned back to AbdRabo with shame stroking their faces. AbdRabo looked back at them with contemplation and passion, “Tell me what happened? Where are the rest of you?”

“We followed your orders and went to the area you told us about, and we found its natives attacking us with weapons similar to ours. They were not afraid of us! and they killed two of our own…”

AbdRabo laughed like a demon with flames of mystery and rage circulating around him until he fell from his chair. When he rose and shouted, “We made it!! Our revolution has finally been victorious!”

They all looked at him with curiosity and doubt, “How come?”

He put his hands on their shoulders as he said, “Now every citizen of our country is carrying a weapon. Every one became a Baltagy[14]. Our revolution is real while theirs’ has not settled on a distinctive shape yet. Who is more Egyptian now?”


AbdRabo endeavored to make this political party of his own people official in order to implement the demands of the real Egyptians who finally made it through the thick layers of the earth until they reached the surface, the same demands of their grandfathers, until one of those days when he was coming back from this work, he was brutally attacked by the army soldiers. They tied him up the same way wild animals are chained right after being captured, and AbdRabo finally fell, before he even had the chance to rise. He fell with shame eating him alive, the shame of not being able to fight for one more day, while vociferating with all his energy and dignity, “Execute me you sick bastards.”


The beggar sat on the pavement in company with her sadness. Her little granddaughter arrived while dressed in her little school uniform to sit on the lap of her grandmother.

“Why didn’t you go to school my dear?”

“I don’t want to go to the school again grandma…”

“And why so? Don’t you know that Baba[15] would be so happy if you did?”

Baba will be happier if I worked with you, especially that he is not here and we are in need of money…”

Her grandmother hugged her so tight, imprinting a kiss on her tiny cheeks, “Do you remember what I have taught you before?”

“Yes grandma.” She jumped from her lap and sat right next to her.

Some passersby suddenly showed up, and some of them looked with empathy and love towards the two beggars and gave them some money.

The child looked up at her grandmother with happiness glittering through her eyes for finally being able to earn money and do something with a tangible effect. The grandmother smiled with kindness and wisdom while saying, “This sum of money is the biggest proof on the success of your father’s revolution. People started to feel and support us. I want you to always be proud of your father for he is a great man. The deeds he performed in the darkness of these streets changed the path of Egypt, but the newspapers do not dare speak about such incidents, because they cannot be put into words in the cheap frame of an earthly article or essay, long and wide, seen by everyone and understood by none. This is a language of angels my dear…”


The Egyptian man carrying the Egyptian expressions walks in the Egyptian street. His tough facial terrains express his tiredness. While appearing to be so thirsty he goes to the juice shop to find it closed. He knocks on the door and insists. He keeps knocking several times, but no response at all. He loses hope and walks away. He keeps walking until reaching a very empty place, away from the city, away from the country, away from Earth. He starts spinning in circles with his dress flying in the air around him… He is silently praying now with each spin. He never stops, he never gets tired, he never gets bored, he never dies…

[1] (Do not come close to prayer when you are drunk…) Quote from Verse 43, Chapter 4; Women, The Holy Quran.
[2] Female donkey.
[3] Incense, also believed to have a spiritual effect.
[4] Oriental Egyptian coffee shop.
[5] The assistant of the master of the coffee shop.
[6] Water pipe.
[7] Egyptian nickname for Ali.
[8] The Fatha, first Chapter in the Holy Quran, also read when someone passes away.
[9] Aristocratic Lady.
[10] Plural of ‘bek’ which was an ancient title below ‘pasha’ and used nowadays to refer to someone rich or in a higher authority.
[11] An Egyptian word spread after the revolution that refers to the followers and supporters of the old system.
[12] Master in a certain profession.
[13] It is a word that refers to the sexual organs of a male or female that should be covered, that when exposed they cause shame.
[14] Single for the word baltageya.
[15] Papa.

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