In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat – Book Review

Iman Mersal’s In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat takes the reader on a quest to unearth the reasons behind a young author’s suicide. Mersal is captivated by the author’s only novel, Love and Silence, which she comes across by chance in Sour Al-Azbakiya. She was drawn to the author’s surname, which resembles that of the award-winning novelist Latifa Al-Zayyat. Mersal assumed a relation between the two, but later learned there was none.

Love and Silence was an obscure semi-autobiographical narrative of grieving woman in the 1950s. Inspired by Al-Zayyat’s own grievances, the book illustrates a young woman’s search for a way out of her despair and into a hopeful future. While Al-Zayyat’s depression consumed her and took her life before the age of thirty, she afforded her protagonist a happier ending. Upon learning of the tragic fate of the author, Mersal made it her mission to track down her story.

Read full review

The End of Summer


As the summer comes to a close

Its pages leaf to a fall

The little girl sleeps in her crib

Protected by frayed walls

Her caregiver hums a sullen tune

As the wind whistles from afar

Blowing the branches off weary trees

And carrying along a lonely lark

It flew a great distance from its home

Hoping for shelter from the mighty wind

Standing patiently on the window sill

The small bird began to sing

A priceless gift on such an eve

A lulling harmony for a sleeping babe

Fleeting as it often is

For it disappeared behind the moving drapes

With the summer idleness now past and gone

All must start their lives once more

As the caring givers protect their young

And the lost birds learn to soar


The Daily Post’s prompt “Priceless”


Untarnished Love 

The purest of loves

Is untarnished by people
Been holding me close

For years it has grown
So deep within it branches

A softness, a peace
Its safety has provided

It is mine alone
Impossible to deny
Cannot replicate

Falling back on it
This love shall always protect


(Wednesday 19th April – Tuesday 25th April)



  1. Each week I will post one word that will serve as an inspiration for a poem.
  2. This poem can be of any form and any length.
  3. You can choose to use the actual word in your poem or a synonym or simply convey its meaning, that’s up to you.
  4. Copy URL of your post to the comment section OR Pin Back (preferably).
  5. You can also contribute a word to the challenge, and I will link it to your blog the following week.



A few months ago I chose to quit my job for a better opportunity. Unfortunately, that opportunity didn’t work out and I ended up being unemployed instead. For months I regretted my decision, convincing myself that I shouldn’t have taken the risk, that I was fine where I was.

My choice was based on a foundation of stress, so maybe if I had pushed through it the result would have been different. But the truth is you can’t undo life-altering choices, because they are what make your life. The small daily unconscious choices, along with the monumental decisions, they make up the days we spend on this Earth. Sounds obvious doesn’t it. Yet quite often we forget the reasons behind our choices, because we’re blind to the effects they will have on our future.

Back to my example. At first I perceived my unemployment as a failure, but now I realize that it has been a true blessing. During this free time, unburdened by the stress of a full-time position, I was able to relax. I dedicated time to my hobbies, took care of my health, engaged in new activities, met different people and gained some perspective. In the end, it was my choice that brought me to where I am today and for the first time in almost a decade, I can honestly say I understand what it means to be calm.

Navigating the Egyptian Job Market

I recently quit my job in pursuit of a different career path. We are taught in “Job-Hunting 101” that you should never quit your job unless you’ve secured another position or opportunity in its place, and I followed these instructions with particular care. As I’ve just mentioned in my topic sentence, I quit to purse a different path: education. The plan was that I begin a graduate program at the start of the new academic year (September), however this plan crumbled due to forces that were beyond my control. As a result I had to withdraw my acceptance and start looking for a new job. But in a country like Egypt this is one of the worst sentences you ever want to hear, let alone utter.

Ask any fresh graduate or unemployed 20-somthing year old and they will recite their tales of woes about the treacherous job market, especially if that poor soul holds a degree in the arts, the humanities, social sciences like me.  While youth unemployment has become a global epidemic, the situation in Egypt grows bleaker ever year. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any jobs in a city (Greater Cairo where I live) of over twenty million residents, the problem is vastly more complex.

Looking for a White Collar Job in Cairo:

Most Required Majors (seriously most by far): Business, Marketing, Mass Communication, Finance, Accounting, Economics, Computer Science, Computer and Electrical Engineering. [Job-specific majors, like medicine, are not included]


The majority of jobs in Cairo are corporate jobs. While I have nothing against corporations, not every single graduate wants to work in business.

Location & Transportation: to say that transportation in Cairo is an inconvenience is like saying that childbirth is a mild discomfort. Whether you have a car or commute using public transport, you will find the experience irritating at best and entirely intolerable at five. Between the traffic, the increase in oil prices, the lack of parking (it has been a running gag for years) and the sheer size of Cairo (including the suburbs), transportation is a real obstacle when looking for employment. While some are willing to sacrifice time, effort and money because they are desperate for a job, many can not.

Take it from someone who spent twenty years in long commutes: 2-4 hrs each day  depending on traffic, and on very rare occasions it took even longer.

Salary (the monster in the room): Low salaries or salaries that cannot cover one’s expenses are the norm across the country, particularly when you’re just starting. Employers assume that because unemployment is rampant that people would accept any salary however low, and most people do. But some employers take this to an extreme, including those who don’t provide employees with formal contracts, others who think that employees shouldn’t be compensated for over-time or for running company-related errands, and so on and so forth. This kind of mistreatment has a detrimental effect on the employees psychological well-being and the quality of the work he/she produces (very common problem).

Lack of Variety (finding the right job): like I’ve mentioned above, it’s all about corporate jobs. Why? Because they’re the most stable, with the most reasonable salary-schemes. And when you live in a country with an unstable economy, you need a stable income. But if you’re not interested in a corporate job, well then you’ll face a serious struggle.

Now that I’ve provided my own amateur assessment of the Egyptian job-market, based on personal experiences, please let me know if you have any career-related opinions in the comments below. And while this article is country-specific, some of these issues are universal, so don’t shy away from commenting just because you live in another country or region. 🙂