“We had barely drifted out of Alexandria’s harbor when I heard my father cry ‘Ragaouna Misr!’ – Take us back to Cairo! It became his personal refrain, his anthem aboard the old cargo ship…from The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit“
Just as the Call to Prayer greeted us at midday on arrival a short 9 days ago, it woke us this morning to bid us goodbye as we rushed to pack our suitcases and get to the airport to board Egypt Air Flight 985 nonstop Cairo to New York. Carefully wrapped perfume bottles, colorful scarves and other treasures unavailable to us in the bazaars in the U.S (otherwise known as “malls”) were placed into our bags to greet us on the other side. The side where memories sometimes need tangible items to awake their wonder.
The cry of our hearts has often been that of the fathers’ in The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. “Ragaouna Misr!” Take us back to Cairo! Our children could verify that this was our cry for 7 years after leaving in 1996. And leaving a piece of our heart in the form of our daughter gives us more reason to want to return, to be a more consistent part of her world .
But arriving in Cambridge, my heart is satisfied. We are indeed where we are supposed to be. Unlike when we uprooted our family, we now recognize that though the cry may be loud at times, we are given the occasional gift of a visit to rekindle our hearts and spirits. Though we may still cry out “Ragaouna Misr” – sometimes like the Israelites and other times in a far healthier way, sometimes audibly and other times silently – we are living where we are for a purpose. Even as the cry comes up to my lips, I walk in and put a kettle on for tea and smell the scent of home. Right now that home is Cambridge, Massachusetts surrounded by our memories, pictures and life thousands of miles removed.
All photographs taken by Cliff Gardner, who climbed to the farthest point on the minaret.
- These are the Moments – Alexandria, Egypt (communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com)
- Once You Drink From the Nile, You are Destined to Return (communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com)