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Dear Bawab...

An open letter to the most important man in most Egyptian girls' lives...

Dear Bawab,

Seeing as I will forever be unable to share these many thoughts, feelings, and questions with you, I will put them up here, in the hopes that one day, your son will be a rich doctor who can read English (call me!), will stumble upon this gem of a letter and question whether it was intended for his dad. Perhaps you will respond with your own letter. I really hope you don’t because I can imagine you would have an avalanche of largely unkind things to say to me, and, seeing as I would like to continue in my delusion of us getting along swimmingly, as per our trite eye-contactless smiles whenever we cross paths, I would really rather not hear them.

Let's start with the obvious question; do you hate me? When I walk out of the house, all dressed up for a night out, short skirt included, do you look at me and think I'm a harlot? I'm not, I just dress like one. Kidding! But from your standpoint, is the fact that my legs are bare a horrific atrocity on par with killing puppies? When I come home between the hours of 4 and 7 AM, do you also think I was out engaging in scandalous activities? And, the more pertinent question is, is there any way to convince you that, when I get home after the sun has already risen, I wasn’t out all night but actually maybe went for a nice morning jog and am just returning? In heels and with smudged black eye makeup. That’s how I like to do my running actually.

There have been a number of occasions when I arrived home at an hour way past your bedtime, and I try and tip-toe past your bedroom area in the entrance of our building, because I know you're asleep and I don’t want to disturb your slumber (I also don’t want to face your disapproving stares). But I know you see me. I know. Just so you know, it requires a significant amount of effort to tip-toe in heels while under the influence, so I hope there's at least an inkling of appreciation on your part. I try, I really do.

There have been other such occasions when, gifted genius that I am, I've forgotten the key to our mutually shared building gate, which you lock as soon as the clock strikes twelve, an act I can only take to mean that you believe that no respectful humans in our building should even arrive past that hour. So naturally, my only solution when I get locked out, is to bang like a maniac on the gate (keep in mind, I'm inebriated) until you have to get up and open it for me. You give me a scathing glare that could melt the polar ice caps but I smile and apologise and hope that you'll forgive me in the morning if my smile is wide enough and I say sorry enough times.

I would never dare bring a guy up to my house under your watchful eyes. But what about when a guy living in the building brings a girl up? Do you think aywa ba2aaaa or is it still a firm 2ellet 2adab weh safala in your mind? 

Moving on. When I order several meals a day, do you think I'm a spoiled little shit? Or when you and your fellow bawabs are cleaning the floors in the building entrance, and I stand there apprehensively not really knowing what to do because, well - I don’t wanna get my shoes wet, and you swipe the water aside for me to walk, in your mind are you thinking Who the fuck does she think she is? Do you secretly wish you could dunk my damn head under the two inches of water and drown me? Don’t lie. Bet you do.

Here are some things I feel and wonder about you and your life: I never see you eating, and the building never smells like food. Where do you cook your meals? Are you comfortable in your room/home? How many people are you in there? I see kids around often, and your wife. Are they always there? Is it bigger in there than it looks outside? Where are you originally from – like, did you move to the city? You must have because city folk wear pants and shirts, but country folk wear galabeyas. Speaking of which, do you own any clothes that aren’t galabeyas or is it a Dexter’s Lab kind of situation? What would you be doing, if you could do anything? These are the questions that keep me awake at night. I really do wonder, and I wish I could ask you, but alas, we don’t have that kind of relationship.

I know you’ve made friends with my drivers, and you guys sit outside the building and chit-chat. Do you talk about me? I sincerely hope those guys have nice things to say about me – I AM NOTHING BUT A DAMN CUPCAKE TO THEM!

To be honest, I avoid you at all costs because well, I can't face your disapproval. But really, I never ask you for anything. I don’t ask you to park my car, and will instead drive around the block 33 times until I find a spot. I don’t ask you to get my laundry or to get me stuff from the koshk or run a variety of errands for me, which I know other people ask their bawabs to do. Instead I either do these things myself or I relegate these tasks to my drivers because they're in a constant rotation anyways (as opposed to you, who's just a constant in my life) so if they despise me, it's all good because they probably won't last that long anyways. I try not to trouble you even when I'm struggling down the building stairs with a massive suitcase that weighs more than our combined body masses. My parents tell me to get you to help but I insist on doing it myself so as not to rub salt in the festering wound that is our relationship. I JUST WANT YOU TO LOVE ME. As a general rule, I avert my eyes when I see you because I fear the hatred emanating from yours would incinerate me. But who knows, maybe you are amused by me? Perhaps, you even like me. I do enjoy your fashion choices. Galabeyas have character. Perhaps one day in the near future we will share some foul and ta3meya together. My place or yours?


A random Egyptian girl



Main image sourced from BBC.