Egypt and the Candle
Yasmine Mahmoud Fakhry
“While there may be conspiracies by governments, there are no boundaries for love and friendship to grow among people.”
I didn’t know when my Italian friend Elisa gave me a candle as a symbol of friendship that this candle would be more than just a souvenir. For years, I have stored the candle to remind me of the good old days I spent in Italy during the cultural exchange. I bet Elisa herself never thought when she gave me that candle it would light up the corners of my living room many years later.
As I was watching the candle burn, I remembered how I felt when I arrived in Italy and although Islamophobia was on the rise, I received a warm welcome that was carved in my memory for good. Sitting in the darkness of my living room, the tiny spark of the candle reminded me of Carpineto Romano. In this small town, which is about 80 km south of Rome in the middle of the Lepini mountains, I learned that love and kindness are not necessarily found at home, by the people who look like us, or those we grow up with, but sometimes it is found far away from home. It was the first time I had been to Europe, and I was unsure how Europeans would react towards a Muslim woman who wore hijab and looked completely strange to them. I didn’t know that in this small town which was far away from home I would meet my forever best friend Anna, from Portugal, and Omar who is originally from Carpineto Romano, and that we would be the three Musketeers.
Many will say that the West is responsible for much of the darkness, investing in chaos across the Arab World. The truth is, the havoc wreaked on the Arab World by the West has been supported and upheld by Arab dictators who hold equal responsibility. While there may be conspiracies by governments, there are no boundaries for love and friendship to grow among people. At the time when our own people who share the same language, culture, history, and race became intolerant and indifferent, and while our regimes have become unresponsive to human needs, the light from this candle was the hope that I survived on. Elisa’s candle stands for the friendship, love, solidarity, and compassion that grew between us. The smoke from the candle has created a gentle warmth that makes me recall the sense of love and warmth that have once touched the bottom of my heart.
As the candle was melting quickly, the memories disappeared and I realized that the darkness will soon be absolute and I will be deprived of the light. The flickering flame coming out from the small block left from the candle made me gloomy as I thought, how long will it take Egypt to light up again, and what else can dictators or a corrupt regime do to make our lives more miserable than before?
We were brought up to think that Egypt was the cradle of civilization. My parents told me that no matter how far Egyptians traveled away or wherever they lived, Egypt was the place they called home. How can this place be called home if it is not cozy, warm, or full of love, and how can this be called a civilization when people are left to stumble in the dark?
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