By Kev Richardson
Mainstream/Historical, 299 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
A true tale of how an Egyptian born son can be educated to achieve honours in his chosen university studies, yet denied the right to turn them into a career.
Every Egyptian child adopts at birth its father’s nationality, so many find themselves a foreigner in his land of birth. Another law denies foreigners in Egypt, the right to work. With neighbouring Sudan in an ongoing civil war, this young man risks assassination if even visiting his father’s country, let alone wanting to reside and work there.
What can he do when even visas are denied Sudan’s citizens to any western country, simply fearing being ‘smothered’ by countless Sudanese wanting to flee the mayhem?
In this case, a visiting westerner takes up the challenge of finding a way around this poor fellow’s political dilemma.
She nodded. “Yes, son. For the sunroom.”
Ali and his mother were going through the house, attaching coloured Post-It tabs to every item of furniture.
Yellow designated leave-in-the-house, green meant deliver to her father’s home, pink designated being sold at auction.
They were under no time limit to quit the Sudan government property, yet the hint had been ‘within a month or two.’ They were moving only a few streets away to her parents’ home, where tradesmen were currently closing this door and opening a new one in other walls, that the el-Haq duo had their own apartment of four rooms plus a kitchen and shared bathroom.
Madame el-Haq was now agitating even more strongly that Ali began thinking seriously of marriage.
“There is garden space enough that the new apartment can be extended another room, son.”
“Yes, Mother, but again I must insist that I do not yet marry. Any son born to me in Egypt will grow up with my dreadful impediment to life’s happiness. I simply cannot cast such a slur on any child.”
“The Sudanese problem will one day be over, Ali, when you could take your family to Khartoum or El Fasher. We have talked on this so many times.”
“Yes, Mother, and every time finish realising that the ‘when’ of it can never be gauged. Only when I can see myself safely welcomed into Sudan will I marry. If you do not want me living with you, I can take my own apartment somewhere, or go back to university and further my education.”
“I should miss you dreadfully if you moved away, Ali, but a man of your age continuing to live with his mother is not Allah’s way. It must attract suspicion of homosexuality to cast doubt on my father’s entire family. A bachelor son in his twenties should be marrying.”
“Well, until accepted in the Sudan, I cannot. But if you fear slurs, Mama, I shall take the University course. However, I would prefer time to see what happens in the Sudan, also to keep appealing to the British Embassy.”
Ali was silent a long time. We have been through this so many times, every time ending up deciding nothing. I could enter the monkhood, yet I cannot devote my entire life and spirit to that. I envy Evan the freedom he has, yet whilst I could be self-employed like that, I must depend on what money I could earn from outside Egypt. And changing foreign money has a limit, one too small to grant me a livelihood.
Every which-way he looked, there were barriers.
How long can a man keep sponging on his family and maintain pride? Suffer the ignominy of having no career or even purpose in life? Man was not made to live so. Life here can only continue demeaning.
He realised that family money, while continuing to give him a comfortable life, did nothing towards giving him personal satisfaction.
My studies in physics have me qualified to be earning good money, even one day to receiving some notoriety. Surely such is every man’s dream—every man but one born in Egypt of a Sudanese father!