Sunday, June 27, 2010

down memory lane :: the magic palace

It was dark, the roads muddy, and I was struggling in my step as my sandals got stuck in the mud. I yanked them, one came off. "EWWWWWWW" I screamed. My uncle grabbed my sandal and carried me the rest of the way, as we approached the one dim light bulb hanging by the mud-built wall, I saw black large bugs flying into the bulb. "EWWWWWW" I screamed again. "What are these?" I started to cry. "blind flying beetles" My uncle replied casually. "No worries, they're more afraid of you, than you are of them". "EWWWWWWW, I want to go back home, I don't want to stay in this disgusting mud built house, and scary, creepy farm" I continued to cry. "Ah, not too soon, if you leave now, you'll miss seeing the magic palace" My uncle reasoned with (five year old me).

My eyes widened, and my cries stopped. "What magic castle?" I inquired.

You'll see, I'll take you to see it first thing in the morning.

But why can't we go there now, why do we have to spend the night in this disgusting mud-built-house with flying blind beetles. Why not go see it now.

It only appears in the morning, that's why it's magic, you see.

So I waited.

My sleep was interrupted once by a casual snake that slithered in our bedroom. My uncle's wife beat it with her wooden slippers once on the head, and we all went back to sleep.

5:30 am:

"Wake up" a voice whispered. "it is time"

I rubbed my eyes open, held my uncle's hands and walked outside the mud-house... and walked, and walked some more. There were no more flying beetles when we came out. The skies were purple, changing gradually to lighter purple, pink, orange pink, and then... it happened.

"Look, here it comes, it will appear any second now, pay attention" propped my uncle

The sun came out at first shyly, but then it gained confidence and sprung it's golden rays all over my uncles thirty fedans of lush orange, mango, and tangerine fields. I could have sworn I saw a Palace appear amidst all the trees and then POOF... it was gone.

"Do you still want to go home now?"



* My Uncle studied agricultural engineering in his youth, and acquired thirty fedans of desert land somewhere between the Cairo and Alexandria desert. He spent his youth taming the land, until it became a green oasis in the middle of the desert. We used to visit every summer, and ride his two donkeys (Samy and Samya). My cousins-- his two sons loved the land just as much, but they didn't care much for inheriting their father's job. The land is now sold, my uncle is happily retired. If farming is tough in America, multiply that by a thousand and you can get a slight idea about how rough it is to farm in no rain land. We've been doing it for thousands of years though. God bless the Nile river, our pulsing vein of life.


No comments: