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Do You Hear What I Hear?

In a city of noise, silence can be deafening, as Sally Sampson found out on Wednesday night when a nationwide curfew forced us to listen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing something only to lose track of what I’m saying three sentences later. I’ve taken breaks, walked around in circles, listened to music, all in the hope that somehow the words will come to me and I’ll know exactly what to say and how to say it. So far, I’ve started a poem, a short story, a letter to Obama and I have an idea for a short film brewing at the back of my mind.

And yes, there is certainly a lot I could say given the current circumstances. Truth be told, I have never had so many ideas, rants, hypotheses, questions, monologues etc. going through my head at once, so I know for sure that what I’m experiencing is far from writer’s block.

I could say a lot…and I usually do, but the thing is everyone has something to say right now, don’t they?

Everyone is saying something or another, giving an opinion, yelling angrily about the circumstances, expressing fear, conveying a sense of determination, confirming a particular standpoint.  The foreign press have their self-righteous biased coverage of events, and they continually try to tell the rest of the world that Egyptians don’t know what’s best for them.  Everyday folk, who weren’t very political in the first place, are entering into conversations and debates that make them sound like the commentators that are featured on CBC and ONTV.

Everyone has an opinion…And rightly so! Don’t get me wrong; as long as a person is educated and their opinion is backed and substantiated by fact and reason, I am happy for them to maintain and share their views with the world.

However, there is something that very few have taken the time to acknowledge and maybe that’s why words simply don’t want to flow in and through me today. Something keeps interrupting and preventing them from spilling out onto a page.

You’ll know what I’m talking about if you had to make your way back from work last Wednesday in the middle of the day or if you had to walk even the smallest of distances when there was no one in the streets. The air was thick with it.

The Silence. 

I think it is impossible to forget it. That loud, deafening silence that descended on the streets of Cairo on Wednesday rings in my ears and haunts me to this very moment. I have never known anything like it in my life. It wasn’t a silence of peace or calm. It was a silence you only witness in movies that depict the end of the world. There was a sense of anticipation and foreboding and the hush that descended on Cairo was heavy with it.

Since I walked through the streets on Wednesday, I feel like that silence has possessed me. And since I saw the footage of the bodies lying in the streets, since I saw the pictures of the churches that were set on fire, since I saw the death tolls rising on the news, silence has become the soundtrack that accompanies me everywhere. And that’s not an exaggeration.

For me, I liken it to the theatre. In theatre, the action of the play and the dramatic impact made by the actors on the audience is not only achieved through the words of the script, but also through well-timed dramatic pauses. Silence is a language of its own that is universal and it can touch all of us if we lend it our ears.

In Egypt, a dramatic silence has descended and it has impacted me more profoundly than all of the words, all of the rants and all of the opinions flying about all over the place.

I’m not only acknowledging the silence, however; I’d like to use it to honour Egypt and every single person who has stood to defend her from any individual or country looking to manipulate the circumstances to further their private agendas.

There is often more said in silence than we give credit for. Perhaps that is something to ponder next time people are screeching their opinions as the events continue to unfold…

And now, it is time for me to be silent also.

God bless you Egypt and God bless your people.