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The Democratic Republic of Zamalek: The Return of the Prodigal Son (Part II)

Back home for the first time in four years, Marc has to confront his father and find his own place in the new Republic

Before reading, for some background, you can check Part I here and the group profiles here (from computer)
Part I and group profiles (from telephone)

August 22nd 2012

Georgette Menzaman is restless. She is pacing around the apartment, waiting impatiently for the doorbell to ring. She ventures one last time into her son’s room to ensure that everything is in order “Sapi!!! You forgot to put the bottle of Evian next to his bed! Yala Yala.” The Filipina maid rushes out of the kitchen and places the bottle on his bedstand, “Sorry Madam, Mr. Marc normal like take water himself from kitchen.” The doorbell finally rings. Georgette’s heart skips a beat; she had waited for this day for so long.

Like every other morning, Georgette woke up at 10 am and had her coffee served to her in bed. After getting dressed, her chauffeur drove her to the Guezira club to meet her best friends, Doris and Ninette. A beautiful woman in her late forties, Georgette never worked a day in her life. She had met and married Robert at a young age and since then had devoted her time to outsourcing responsibilities to others. Since learning how to use the internet, however, she had become a sort of influencer on Instagram, attracting followers with her tips on ageing gracefully. Her bio reads “Afraid of Jesus, menopause and the poor”.

The three women are sitting at La Pergola chatting and gossiping as usual. But Georgette’s mind seems elsewhere. Ninette leans towards her and puts her hand on her shoulder “It will be OK cherie”. Ever since Marc had left Zamalek, her friends have been careful about bringing up the subject. And now that he is coming back, they aren’t sure how to react either. All they know is that she has suffered from being estranged from her own son.      

Georgette is now standing at the entrance. She pauses for a second to gather herself before nodding at Sapi to go ahead and open the door. Upon gazing at her son for the first time in four years, she bursts into tears and throws herself into his arms shouting “Mon fils!” Marc returns the affection but seems more reserved with his emotions; he clearly still is rancorous about the incident that drove him away.

Marc then greets Sapi warmly before asking his mother about what happened at the Pub. Georgette is still looking at her son “You’ve grown up my love! I like your beard but it is un peu islamique!” Marc shakes his head and says that she hasn’t changed. He then gazes at the study guarded by three security men and asks if his father is in there. She confirms that he is before explaining that a group of men from Kolo Haraam attacked the Pub with Molotov cocktails but that Robert luckily survived because he was in the bathroom “The bathroom is not far from the door so he escaped with minor burns” She sighs before continuing “but Bedanous didn’t make it and two other people lost their lives…ces islamistes…des baRbaRes je te juRe” 

Robert Menzaman, whiskey in hand, is waiting for his son in the study. The door suddenly bursts open and their eyes meet for the first time in years. Robert smiles and tells Marc to come hug his father and take a seat in front of him. “How are you doing dad?” Marc inquires, “Lions don’t fall easily son. Your mother always told me to stop drinking but that freakin’ whisky saved my life haha.” Marc then asks where the Milk Sheikh is now and what his father is planning on doing.  Robert gets up and walks towards the window “That coward is in hiding mon fils but not for long. I will have my revenge” Robert takes a deep breath, turns around and sits on the desk just next to his son “That little slut’s father tried to kill me. Don’t you see that I was right? I told you that this family is toxic and now you see why I forbid you to continue seeing that little whore. I hope that now we can finally turn the page. We have plenty of things to do you and I for this country”.

Marc gets up abruptly from his chair and shouts at his father that he had already ruined her life and forced him to move abroad, and that he didn’t come back to Egypt to relive the same pattern that forced him away. Robert counters:  “That’s your problem son, you run away when the going gets tough. But now is time to forget your petty love blues and focus on building this new country with me. It’s a fight between the open minded and the barbaRes. And we won! We are the fucking kings here!”

Marc ripostes “You are a dictator dad! And you certainly are not open minded. Being open minded is not what you allow yourself, it is what you allow others”. Disappointed by the conversation with his father, Marc is convinced that it is impossible for them to reconcile. He isn’t strong enough to confront him further, though, and decides to leave the house to get some fresh air.

Downstairs from his villa on Ismail Mohamed, Marc lights up a cigarette and digests the heavy return home when all of a sudden he feels a silhouette approaching him. It is Taymour Galal, an old school friend. Taymour had always been a quirky character who regards himself as a “poet in a world of vultures”.  He represents the youth that has lost faith in everything: the grandeur of a nation, the truth of religion, the superiority of the elite, the utopia of the West etc…

Taymour is surprised to see his old friend back in the island “No way! The president’s son himself! It’s been ages! Can you believe all that has happened here? Fuck all this shit man” Taymour asks Marc why he is sitting alone. Marc explains that he just had a fight with his father and is thinking of returning to Canada. He doesn’t want to be part of this charade, he adds.

Taymour smiles and shares that he has formed a new group “You know believing in nothing used to depress me but now I find it liberating. If nothing is real, then everything can be created. Come let me show you.” He guides Marc into a discreet alley that leads to an abandoned villa. On the door, a motto is inscribed: “Imagination makes reality tolerable. Reality makes imagination indispensable."

"Welcome to the Salvador Dalis", Taymour exclaims enthusiastically.