I’ve been living in this city since the day I was born. I know the culture and I have a feel of it; it’s a crucial part of my life. But for the past four or five years I’ve been determined on leaving. I felt that my time here was limited that I was meant to live somewhere else, not sure where, but somewhere more accepting. You see I have many problems with living here, some more complex than others. My number one issue, though, has to be the people.
I’m aware of how general a term that is and how much it may not make sense, but I’ll explain. The population of greater Cairo is approximately 20 million people, give or take. It’s one of the densest urban areas in the world and one of the most polluted. That leads to an unfixable traffic catastrophe and more garbage than the city can hold. Leaving the house every day is a tedious task for everyone, regardless of which form of transportation they choose to take. All that is in addition to extreme inflation, which devaluates the money, adding more of a burden to people who’ve had it up to their eyeballs in problems.
However, this brief background doesn’t explain what I mean by having an issue with the people. I’m used to the crowded streets and have grown accustomed to the traffic, still hate it though. But what I can’t tolerate is the constant judgment and brazen interference in other people’s lives. People’s lives are like a circus act, trying to balance between obligations and expectations. Society expects people to stand on a wire and effortlessly balance these two things with perfection, which is impossible! It’s outrageous to even conceive that such a life is possible. As you walk down the street, there always watchful eyes looking out to see if you step out of line. This creates an atmosphere of extreme frustration and oppression that no one can endure. One may pretend, put on a mask and spend their lives hiding, but it will certainly not be truthful. I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone, but it is the case for a great majority of the citizens of this city.
Back to the topic at hand, it hit my today that the only way I can be content with living here is if I do so by my own rules. I don’t think it will be entirely possible, but hypothetically it would be a step forward. If I could have my own place, take charge and responsibility for my own life. Be a mature responsible adult before being in a committed life-long relationship. Why is that I have to wait for a husband until I can be independent? It’s such an archaic social structure. Why can’t young unmarried men and women live on their own, outside their parents’ house? Why does there have to be a negative stigma behind that, especially for women?
I detest this culture of dependence and I hate that I’m sucked into it. I would like to not have to move away to have a life that I can call my own. I would appreciate it if people would mind their own business and accept the differences of others. I would like to see this culture as non-patriarchal, non-misogynistic, less destructive, more accepting, more proactive, more productive and more respectful.
Do I dare to dream such a dream?