Monday, January 28, 2013

The Road Less Traveled.

Do you fear death? Ever wondered how does it feel to be between life and death? Ever been in a place and the next moment you were someone or some place else? How many of you have been to hospitals to undergo operations, and took anesthetics? Can you recall that feeling when the doctor looked at you and told you, '10, 9, 8, 7, 6...' and before this is all you remember; you wake up forty minutes later, or after two days depending on the operation itself?

Well…some people just don’t wake up.

I have been wanting to write this post for years. Maybe I didn’t for a reason. I don’t know why I have been delaying. It’s funny as some people will be mentioned in here who would not have made it had I wrote it years ago. It is sad that I know as days go by there will be people who would have been included had I delayed writing it. But I will just write this now because, maybe, I will not be here tomorrow. 

Some people leave us, but they are not forgotten. At least for me. They are in my prayers every day. They are in my thoughts whenever I am on my own for a long time, whether I am on the plane or driving all by myself while listening to music along that road. The road doesn’t necessarily mean the road in your street. The road is an idiom to life. The road that many have pursued and ventured but never made it home. The road less traveled.

Will you honour me in a Facebook page when I die? Have my pictures and share certain memories we had? If you do so, will it be for a week or two? Will you remember to post something there on my birthday? Will you wake up on the anniversary of my death and write down that it has been ten years since I departed? I don’t think so. This is life. The majority of us forget. Most of us will go on with life and remember the lost ones whenever their name is mentioned. I am against that. People who are gone should be remembered. We shouldn’t let people remind us of them, because it us who should have them in our hearts and minds every day.

The people I will mention here are listed in no particular order. You might know some and probably haven’t heard of others. Some of them don’t even have Facebook pages because they either died way before Facebook gets created or because of other reasons I am not quite sure what they are. Most of those Facebook pages are lousy anyway, as the pages only contain spam advertisements, which is kind of depressing. Just the odd post every now and then from someone. Some pages are just dead that if the person being honoured here wakes up from his death will wish to die ten thousand times again in shame and despair.

Writing about them here is the least I could do because even when I die and no longer blog, still, this blog will be alive, and people will read about them.

I will not share pictures, even though I want to, but I don’t have pictures for some of them and it’s unfair for the others.

- Ramy Hodroj

Date of Birth: 1984
Date of Death: June 2002

Ramy or RAM as I liked calling him was the first death i had to deal with for someone who was present more or less on daily basis in my life. Ramy used to be with me in school. He was two years younger than me. His brother Adel is my friend, and his cousin Mohamed has always been in my best friends circle. Ramy used to come and sit with us at the same ahwa (Sadek Cafe), especially during his last year of school. Ramy was a very humble person and was always smiling. In the last summer he survived (2001), he was in Rhodes, Greece, at the same time I was there. I remember bumping twice into him. Once at the Diesel store and we bought jeans together, while the other time was in front of GAS nightclub in which my friends and I had VIP passes while he was standing in a very long queue and we told him to join us.

Ramy was in a coma for around a month before he dies. He was accompanied by Karim Badawy another good old friend of mine and Ramy’s best friend at the time. From what I know is that both were in the car cruising and they hit a big light post that fell on the car. Both Karim and Ramy went into a coma. Ramy didn’t make it. Karim was conscious few months later but he wasn’t the same. Ten years have passed. Karim’s condition improved a lot by time and he’s now happily married.

I am not quite sure if the Hodroj family are in contact with Karim. I think they are not. I am not in a position to judge or disagree, but I am quite sure that Karim still suffers from that night where he was driving that car and not only lost his best friend, but a big part of himself too.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ramy Tobgy

Date of Birth: 1986
Date of Death: End of 2002

Ramy Tobgy died in the same year Ramy Hodroj died in. Ramy is a unique name. I am pretty sure we all don’t have many ‘Ramys’ in our lives. It is funny (in a sad sense of course) how death can be related to one another without you notice. Ramy used to be with me in school too, but he was a kid in my eyes. His older brother was a year younger than me, and during high school was a very good friend of mine, especially that him and my neighbour were best friends. I don’t recall Ramy and I ever talking except a few times, but he was present in my life and with the people around me. He was dating a girl whose elder sister was one of my close friends. His best friend was Karim Badawy’s (read above) brother. It was quite intriguing and known to everyone that Karim Badawy and Karim Tobgy (Ramy’s brother) are best friends (and both had the same name) and each of them both had a younger brother (Shehab Badawy and Ramy Tobgy) and both were best friends too. When Ramy Tobgy died, his brother Karim was devastated, but the guy who was truly shattered was Shehab his best friend. I still remember how Shehab who was also 16 at the time (just a little kid) was crying his eyes out at the funeral. I really felt sorry for Shehab, because his best friend passed away, and his brother was still in hospital at the time (Karim was still in hospital at the time from the accident – read above). 

From what I know, Ramy died during his sleep. He just didn’t wake up. He was home, and it was in the holy month of Ramadan.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Hassan Zaki

Date of Birth: 1982
Date of Death: Summer 1998

Hassan has a weird story with me. His father, Uncle Said, was one of my father's best friends. They met in Oman where my dad lived for over a decade. They were inseparable. Said had two kids, Hassan, who's my age, and Tarek, four years younger. Moreover, Hassan and Tarek are the step brothers of one of my best friends, Ayman (a member in my closest fifteen). I lived in Oman for two years, and in those years I met Hassan and Tarek. Hassan wasn't an easy kid. He was nine and his parents just got a divorce, and clearly you could see he was very affected, especially that he didn't move with her. This was probably the first time in my life that I understand the importance of psychology on little children. Hassan was an angry kid. He was always angry. He was always agitated and not easy to deal with. Tarek on the other side was the total opposite; he was a sweet dove. I have to admit that Hassan wasn't my favourite at the beginning, and I always used to dread it when I am spending the day with him, and Tarek was still a kid so I couldn't just neglect Hassan and play with Tarek. After those two years in Oman and after returning to Egypt, I used to go visit my father twice a year in short stays, but something was different, when I used to meet Hassan, he wasn't that angry kid anymore. I guess he was 'growing up' and being more friendly and not an introvert. He became very nice and very open and outspoken. He was one of the few people I used to now dread leaving behind when I return to Egypt. It was summer of 98 when I woke up on the call by my friend Ayman who was living with me in Egypt. Hassan died the night before after being run over by a car. He was riding his bicycle going home from his mother's house when it happened.

Oman is known for the high road accidents rate and is ranked in the top 5 countries in the world when it comes to this. I didn't cry when I heard the news. I went automatically to my parents room as my dad was on vacation at the time in Egypt to wake him up and tell him the news. My dad was devastated. 

I will never forget Hassan. I will never forget our nights together playing video games or our sleepover nights or the arcades at the malls. I will never forget the amazing villa they lived in. I will never forget how he had his hair dangle on his face or that picture frame with him and his brother that was hanged on top of the TV. 

I pray for you every day. RIP my childhood friend.

- Hussein Serour and Delia Ezzo

Date of Birth: 1980
Date of Death: August 1999

it gives me the chills every time I remember that day. Again it was Ayman who gave me the news. Hussein and Delia both went to the same school with me. They were two years older, class of '97, or in other words, the 'cursed' class, as seven girls and boys from that class died in the past decade. Hussein and Delia were the first to though. Hussein lived in the street beside me, shared the same school bus, and his younger brother was my cousin's best friend. They (Hussein's family) owned the infamous Al Dawar Restaurant in Lebanon Street that serves the best 'feteer' in the country. It's funny because Hussein was a very 'cool' kid growing up. He was one of the 'bad boys gang' in school, you know, the boys we younger ones always look up to. It's funny how Hussein bonded with me, and I felt very flattered back then it was just crazy how can someone with his 'status' enjoy the company of someone who's considered a loser. He used to sit beside me on the bus and talk to me, listen to music with me, give me advice and tell me stories about teachers, women, etc. whatever I didn't know or have access to back then in the 'growing up school life'. We also bonded because he used to go to Oman himself as some of his family lived there, and it was (and still is) very rare when you actually find someone in Egypt who knows the difference between Amman and Oman, let alone visiting the latter. Hussein had a voice that only radio presenters have. That very rich deep melodic voice. I worked for some time with one of Hussein's best friends. He told me that Hussein's mom organises a birthday party every year on Hussein's birthday and invites all his friends. He never went to a single one; his excuse was that he couldn't bear being at Hussein's house when Hussein himself is no longer there. I totally understand where he's coming from. I hope one day he goes. I also hope his mother still organises those birthday gatherings.

Delia Ezzo, one of the most beautiful girls ever to grace our school. I didn't know her personally, but most of my peers didn't, yet we knew who is she, and her friends, who are like her, unknown personally to us. In school, you know the names of all the seniors, especially the dangerous/naughty guys and the pretty girls. 

Years pass by and I end up working and even supervising Delia's younger brother Ahmed at work. I didn't even know Delia had a brother. I was very happy and thrilled when I found out. I wanted to tell him, 'Man, I pray for your sister every single day for the past 10+ years' but for a reason or another I didn't, but we did talk briefly about that night that took away his sister and Hussein. 

It was a random summer night in Marina (North Coast), that road that took away many lives, summer after summer, eating our youth and burning our elders away. It was one of the very first accidents to occur on that road. The car accompanied three people; Hussein Serour, Delia Ezzo and Mahmoud Makadi, who was driving. Mahmoud Makadi who was in the same class of '97, the only survivor of the accident. Mahmoud was Delia's cousin and Hussein's best friend. How many of us drive cars in the summer going from a place to another taking our cousin and friend with us? All of us do that. 

Just as I spoke earlier about how deaths can be related. When that accident happened, my friend, Mohamed Hodroj was in the car behind them. Mohamed saw the accident live, and pulled over and rushed down to check the passengers, being totally unaware of who was in that car. He told me that the bodies were outside the car, and he recognised them instantly and was in shock. He told me Mahmoud was screaming with his cousin's name, Delia, and his best friend's name, Hussein. Hussein and Delia died on the spot. 

Mohamed's Hodroj cousin died three summers after, in another car accident. (read above)

I sat with Mahmoud Makadi a brief thirty minutes back in 2001 at university. He was a shadow of the Mahmoud I knew in school. If you didn't know him, you would wonder what kind of issues this man was having. I feel sorry for him. Losing your best friend and cousin while you were driving, living in guilt all your life, I am sure he wishes every night if he could turn back time. 

Mahmoud got married last year. Delia's mother, who happens to be Mahmoud's aunt, was there. Do you think it crossed her mind that in another world, maybe this would have been her girl's wedding? Maybe. 

Delia is survived by her best friend, Yasmine, who gave birth to a beautiful girl and named her after her. I hope Delia's mother lives to see the day when little Delia gets married.

I pray for you two every day. RIP angels.

- Ahmed Banhawy, Ahmed Moatassem and Stephanie Rabbat

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1984/1986
Date of Death: August 2002

2002 was a very sad year to a lot of people. It was a turning point in the lives of many, including myself. So many young lives were buried and souls were taken away by our Master. Many of us turned to God for repent, because many of us feared we will be next on the list; the list of death.

Ahmed Banhawy was younger than me. He was a kid in other words. His older brother, Mahmoud, was a common friend, but was still younger than me. In spite of his age, Ahmed was one of the popular kids, or let's say, the most popular kid in his age. He was known by Bam Bam, and also Superman as he had the Superman 'S' logo as a tattoo on his back, at a time when the people in Egypt walking around with tattoos were equivalent to the number of non-smokers now. Banhawy wasn't only famous for his tattoo at the Gezira Club, where he spent most of his time there, but he was the sort of guy you would see everywhere. He was a sports freak, had a body full of packs that turned heads and admiration from all the ladies in his age back then. He was a party animal. He was an artist. He was the kid that would stand for his friends and would be feared from his rivals. He was the kid that girls would pay to spend time with him and the one some of them would be afraid of falling in love with him.

I never talked with Ahmed, except once in my lifetime. This happened like a couple of years before his departure. He came amongst a group of friends to my ahwa (Sadek cafe) and I actually didn't feel comfortable sitting with a bunch of kids. That was it.

In August 2002, Ahmed Banhawy accompained with a group of friends, coming back from Hurgada if my info is correct (or going to Hurgada) had a terrible car accident. All I remember is that they were four in the car. Only one survivor who goes by the name of Omar, or Darwish, or neither. I never met that person, nor do I know how he feels. But he lost three of his friends/best friends, I hope he prays for them every day. I am sure he does. God be with him.

I knew Ahmed Moattasem by name. He was a famous young kid too. He used to go by the name 'Dunz'. I can't remember how he looked, maybe because I never clearly saw him before he died, but I recall he was tall and dark. As for Stephanie. She was a fine girl. I wouldn't know her if I meet her in Heaven, but I remember she was very beautiful. She used to go to the infamous Lycee Francais school in Maadi.

I pray for you three every day. RIP little angels.

- Mohamed Ahmed

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1985/1987
Date of Death: February 2006

Bibo, that's what he used to go by, and that's how I got to know him. Bibo was a water polo champion at Heliopolis Club. An artist and a painter. He led a very happy chilled life amongst friends and family, and his forever friend, Ziggy the dog.

Bibo was a victim of childhood and adolescent carelessness and immaturity. Usually teens do crazy things, especially when they are accompained by a group of other crazy teens along. Starting from throwing food at random people in the street and running away up to speeding while driving and shutting their eyes for ten seconds; all sorts of crazy things. 

Bibo and his friends came up with a new game. A game of ultimate and fatal brutality. They used to stand on a chair and hang themselves with a rope dangling from the ceiling for twenty to thirty seconds before cutting the rope off. They had heard that this game gets you high and allows you to experience things beyond this world. They used to play it regularly, until that late night in February when it was Bibo's turn to stand on the chair. With a smile on his face, which no one knew it would be his last. After twenty seconds passed, Bibo's friends didn't cut the rope. Teasing their best friend is the only thing they had in mind, even him begging didn't get them back to their senses.

Bibo died as a casualty in a house amongst his friends, leaving away his lovely parents, gorgeous and rebellious one-of-a kind sister, and Ziggy the dog who proved to be more loyal than his own friends.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel. I hope you still have those thick sideburns.

- Fadel Sammakieh

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1984/1985
Date of Death: September 2006

The power of love. That's how I got to know Fadel. I only got introduced to Fadel months after his fateful death.

I am a great believer of love and stories of love, maybe because I really loved before, or maybe because at one point of my life I knew I had the one, maybe because I grew up watching both my parents symbolising the meaning of love every day to me.

I got the news of Fadel's death through a friend who told me that an AUCian had an accident on the road to (or from) Sharm El Sheikh to (or from) Cairo.

That was it.

Months passed and I was browsing my MySpace account, which was the least from the social networking websites that I got the grip of. The only reason I created an account there to follow the news and updates of The Smashing Pumpkins, my favourite band. It was towards the end of 2006 when I was out of a relationship that meant a lot to me, I used to log on MySpace to check my ex's brother's page, hoping that I could come across a picture or a post or anything that would connect me to her. That never happened. But another thing happened that night. My heart teared out. From her brother's page, I clicked on someone, then to someone else, then I found that name 'Fadel Sammakieh'. I am very good with names. If you tell me a name, I will never forget it, not in a million years. And that was an odd name, how many Fadels or Sammakiehs do you know? In my case, only one, which was deceased and I learned about him from my friend. I clicked on his page and I saw the most beautiful face of a man. A face of an angel. A smile of a cherub. A glow of a diamond.

Muslims have been taught the story of Prophet Youssef since their birth and how beautiful he was. We never saw him. But just like those who saw Prophet's Youssef, I am blessed to have seen Fadel, even if it was after his death. I haven't seen a more prettier and soothing face ever since.

The page was full of Fadel's pictures. With his family, friends, and most of all, his girl, Salma. Going through the page, and reading the posts, I learned that it was his girl, Salma, who created this page for him. I rememeber reading that very first post saying that she is the creator of this page, to honour the memory of her boyfriend, fiance, lover, brother and best friend. I kept reading post after post, memory after memory, learning all about Fadel and Salma, about their breakups, problems, how she used to forgive him and how he used to run to her whenever he needed a shoulder to cry on. I used to read with tears and agony inside of me knowing that the person who wrote this is probably crying at that very moment. She lost the love of her life. And he can never return. 

During that time also, I had just created a Facebook account (all of Egypt did too around the end of 2006) and I searched for Fadel and found a group called 'In Loving Memory of Fadel Sammakieh' which I automatically joined, and I found Salma, and I contacted her, and told her how much I am affected by what she did on MySpace and told her that if she ever needed anything or someone to talk to, I will be right here. She replied with a thank you, and I assured her that Fadel is in a better place. I don't know why I contacted her, but I really felt that I had to tell her how I am touched by what she was doing. 

What Salma did, in my eyes, was the strongest and most passionate of bonds a lover could do to their partner. I always wondered if Salma will ever date again. I used to check her Facebook account every year, even if she wasn't on my friends list, and we had no common friends in real life, but I always checked her profile, thinking maybe I would see something in her profile pic.

I checked her pic last September in Fadel's anniversary. She was in a white wedding dress. She was still veiled (she got veiled after Fadel's death). She looked happy. I can't blame the girl for getting married. After all, I am sure Fadel would have wanted her to move on with her life, and I am sure Fadel's family too would have wanted the same. In a Utopian world, her, remaining single, would have been understandable. But this is Earth. I am sure Salma didn't forget Fadel. I am sure she prays for him every day. I have to say that when I saw her picture in the wedding dress I was a bit knocked back. I got hit by the word 'Life'. Life goes on as they say. 

Who knows, maybe if Fadel was still alive he would have married someone else.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Omar El Tarouty

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1983/1984
Date of Death: Sometime between 2000/2002

Omar used to go to school with me and was two years younger. He used to be with Ramy Hodroj (read above) in class. I briefly played water polo with him in the few months that I tried the sport. He was very popular in school, due to two things: 1) his elder brother who was a year older than me was amongst the best footballers in school. 2) Each class year had around 80-100 students. Those students were divided into several groups. Each class had the 'most famous group' which are labelled the 'naughty boys' aka the kids who have it all. The naughty boys of each class year were friends with one another, they were the chosen ones, just like Hussein Serour in his class (read above). Omar was a solid member of the 'naughty boys' in his class year.

I have few memories of Omar. I remember he was fast. He was very fast. I remember he had a muscular body, just like his brother. I remember he left school and flew to the US to attend high school there. And that's where he died. I don't know much about his death. I even found out he died by mere coeincedence, probably a year after. I don't even know how he died or where was he buried. Nothing.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Abd El Salam

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1983/1984
Date of Death: Sometime between 2006/2008

Same age like Omar and Ramy. Same class year, but a different school. Abd El Salam used to go to Port Said school. Port Said school always had the most dangerous kids, at least when you compare them to kids in our school. We were sissies compared to them. Very rarely when you would find Alsson and Port Said students getting along. But that class year (class of '01) were best friends. They had a major alliance. Their gang had 20+ names, and every Thursday you know they were going to cause trouble at the Gezira Club. They were walking in the footsteps of the gang one year older than them, which was led by my neighbour.

I never dealt with Abd El Salam. I actually never dealt with most of the people in this group, except the ones who used to go to my school, and I never liked most of them to be honest. They were all about trouble.

Abd El Salam was big. He was not fat, nor full of muscles, but he was big. He was dark too. Darker than most of the people you know, and he had sweet hazel/green eyes.

I don't really know how did he leave this world, but it was shocking when I heard the news. I used to always hear that in spite of his (and the gang's) troublemaking history, Abd El Salam was a sweetheart.

I am pretty sure of that, Abd El Salam was dating a girl called Lina who used to go to school with me and even though I only shared a few brief conversations with her over the years, nevertheless, I could tell how sweet she is and that person in her could never be with someone less of compassion and heart.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ayman Abou Samra

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1983/1984
Date of Death: January 2007

Just like Ramy, Omar and Abd El Salam, Ayman too was a member of that class. Ayman was an integral part of the naughty boys gang if not their leader. Ayman was always the most popular kid in his class, and was friends of older school classes from a young age. Ayman lived in the street right behind me, and so we shared the same school bus. He was best friends with my neighbour, and therefore I used to see him all the time; at the school, club and in my building.

I have several memories of Ayman. During Ramadan we used to envy him because he didn't fast, and this was due to his illness. He was born diabetic and had to take a couple of injections daily of insulin. How fickle we were. That illness that deprived him from fasting and made us envy him was the illness that took him back to the Creator. He was probably the first person in my life that I meet who was a diabetic, after my grandfather.

I remember going with him to the Sphinx theme park, the only time I went to that pathetic place. We went to jump on the trampoline. He was very good! I was only jumping up and down, but he was doing all sorts of acrobats in the air, I still have the image in my head, feels like a video clip of an old 80's pop song.

Ayman went to the same university like me, and in my last semester I was taking a journalism elective which he was enrolled in. I remember the day before the final exam we met in Zamalek at Beanos Cafe. I was very good in that course and was explaining the chapters to both Ayman and two other guys. Ayman scored high in that final.

After graduating in 2002 I rarely heard of him, and the number of times I used to bump into him were very minimal. All I knew is that he was dating a girl called Sarah, and they were in love.

Ayman died a few days after his birthday during his sleep as he entered a diabetic coma.

I met Sarah two months ago. It was a work meeting. She's wearing a ring in her right hand (i.e. Engaged). I wish her well. I am sure she prays for Ayman every day, and just like Fadel, maybe if Ayman was alive today he would have ended up with someone else.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Reem Abaza

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1975/1977
Date of Death: August 2007

Reem was Egypt's social butterfly. Literally. Anyone who was born in the 60's, 70's and 80's knew who Reem Abaza was. She was in all the magazines. Every single lifestyle magazine had pics of her. She was present in all the popular places and outings. She was the daughter of Maher Abaza, former Minister of Electricity. She was also a very good friend of my brother and she's his wife's cousin. Actually she was the girl who introudced my brother to his wife back in university in 1997.

Reem's death shocked Egypt, especially the female gender, who are young and full of life, seeing someone they took as a role model and an idol suddenly leave. Reem died in a car accident in the North Coast. I was in Milan. I got the news through an SMS the next day. It was shocking. Later I learned she was in the car with the man who was going to marry her. He was driving. 

How cruel life can be. But Reem did spread the love to everyone around her, and this was her purpose in life. She had a mission and it was her time to go back home. To the universal home we will all go to one day.  

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Yasmine Roushdy

Date of Birth: 1975
Date of Death: September 2009

My boss for two years. What more can I say? She interviewed me for the post in July 2007 and a week later called me up and told me to come and discuss the offer. She was probably more excited that I am joining more than I was. Her office was right behind mine; which didn't sink well with me at first because she could monitor everything I am doing and browsing (but that's has always been the case with me, always getting those desks that leave me in the clear to everyone).

Yasmine supported me all the way. Even though we had our arguments, and disagreements, just like any manager with their assistant, but we never had a 'big bang' argument. She is probably the most organised person I've met. She was very tidy and clean, never did I ever enter her office and find it unorganised. She used to wear D&G's Light Blue perfume, and was an early riser, the first to be at work. She used to take care of her weight more than any person I've met. She was a hard core yoga practitioner, and used to tell me stories all the time. She was an avid traveler, I don't think I've met anyone who traveled like her. She loved all sorts of places and destinations. She even attended a concert and shook hands with Michael Jackson during the 'Bad' Tour in Berlin. She was the one who told me about Allen Carr's book, 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking' which changed my life and inspired me to write my own book 'Sorry, I Don't Smoke', and forever I will be grateful for that. I used to enjoy overhearing her phone conversations with her grandmother the most. She used to call her 'Memmes'.

Yasmine was another social butterfly like Reem. The people who didn't know her personally were more than the ones who did. Any social ocassion you knew you are going to bump into her. Everyone knew how Yasmine Rousdhy looked thanks to the lifestyles magazines. 

It was Ramadan 2009 which I last saw Yasmine in. It was a Monday and we (all the office) had Iftar at Carlos, Le Pacha. She had been quitting smoking for a while now, and that night I even offered her shisha and she said no. She was travelling to Syria the next day to spend the last few days of Ramadan and Eid holidays. Yasmine was seeing this Italian guy, and they were going to get married within a year.

Yasmine died on the last day of Ramadan in a car accident in Syria. The Italian guy was driving.

He lived. She died. Both were going to get married.

Both Yasmine and Reem knew each other, but no one knew they were going to die the same way, in different countries, two years apart.

Yasmine changed her Facebook profile picture before she leaves to Syria to a picture of herself wearing white and sleeping. Speaking about signs?

I pray for you every day. RIP my angel. And just like the frame in Memmes's house with your picture and a quote from the Shawshank Redemption on it, 'Some birds aren't meant to be caged', you deserve to be free.

- Am Rabea

Date of Birth: Sometime in the 1960's
Date of Death: October 2012

Rabea is his name. Am is the Egyptian term for Uncle/old man. Rabea was the office boys manager in my old work place, the same company with Yasmine. He was the most friendliest and by far the funniest man. He might have only prepared amazing sandwiches and bad tea, but he controlled every thing in the company. The General Manager only trusted him. He controlled everything, and he had answers to anything. He made our lives easier. He helped me in many thing s at work, yes, public relations. He helped me to be organised and always plan ahead. He was by far the most educated 'uneducated' person I've met. He was there for me and everyone whenever we needed him. He used to be the first name on my mobile to wish me a Happy Birthday. He was the first at the mosque when my father passed away. He used to call me all the time after I left work to wish me luck and used to keep telling me to pass by him at the office anytime when I am free because he misses me. I used to tell him one day I will. And that day never came.

He used to cook for us every Ramadan all sorts of Egyptian famous food. We used to go out after work sometimes to eat at a place called Bahha.

Am Rabea was a chain smoker, and this gave him heart problems and he had to undergo several operations and he even quit smoking, and was only weeks away from doing another operation before getting a stroke and dying on the spot in his home around his family.

I saw him one month before his death at the wedding of one of the office boys. We were dancing and singing and you could never tell that this funny man will die in days time.

I will never forget you.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Karim Nofal

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1979/1980
Date of Death: Sometime between 2007/2009

A member in the cursed class of '97. Karim always had a smile on his face. We weren't ever close, but we did travel together before to Siwa in a school trip and I got to know him more and he was very funny and full of fun. I don't think I saw him after his graduation. I guess he was living abroad. In 2000 I dated his cousin for a week. I don't even know anything about her now. 

I learned that Karim died from the papers. I don't know how. But the obituary had his picture and he was smiling the way he always did. I still remember his Green Jansport bag, as I had a similar one. 

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Mohamed Khalil

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1979/1980
Date of Death: Sometime between 2009/2010

Jessie's brother. That's how I always referred to him. Jessie aka Yasmine, used to be with me in class since forever. Mohamed, her older brother, was two years older than us. I never really liked him back in school. I never liked any of his Maadi gang to be honest.

Mohamed was in the same school year with Karim Nofal, Hussein Serour and Delia Ezzo.
The cursed class of '97. I never saw Mohamed, or Jessie, after graduating from school. In 2007, I learned that Mohamed got very religious and works for Etisalat and he is married and all, then I heard he is suffering from rare type of cancer, and has been fighting the illness for some time now.

It wasn't long before Mohamed left us.

A year later, Jessie's husband passed away. Not to mention that her elder brother (not Mohamed) died years back. So now, a 30 year old girl who lost both her brothers is left widowed with two kids.

If you think you have problems, think again.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Nadine Khalil

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1979/1980
Date of Death: Sometime between 2000/2003

Class of '97 too, and shared the same classroom with both Mohamed Khalil and Karim Nofal. I saw a picture a few years back of a birthday party that had the three of them in it. Who would have thought?

I never knew Nadine personally, but I was good friends with her brother, Sherif. Also, I later learned that they are the cousins of Ihab, who I will sadly talk about later in this blogpost.

Nadine died in a very famous jet ski accident in the North Coast. I am not sure of the story exactly, but she was with a friend and they made dreadful accident. Nadine's friend jumped and survived. The jet ski exploded and Nadine died.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ihab Samih Khalil

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1981/1982
Date of Death: August 2012

Nadine's cousin.

Ihab was (and is) the only friend who I have pictures with and no longer alive. Ihab was with me in class from nursery till Primary two. He shared the same desk on occasions too. We were never the best of friends as kids, but he was definitely closer to me than most of the people in class. At first I used to be afraid of him, and used to run crying to my mother at the club when I used to see him. Ihab was a naughty little kid from an early age, he was trouble. But that wasn't the reason I feared him, but it was; his eyes. He had very dim eyes like Japanese people, and I used to have a phobia from Japanese people as a kid. Don't ask, I don't even know why! Funny how I dated a Japanese girl not long ago. I don't even know if I ever shared with her that story.

As we grew older, and even though I changed schools, but I used to see Ihab every now and then at the club and he was always cheerful. We played ball sometimes together too. I think in the past fifteen years I only saw him a handful of times. He had a quiet life and wasn't that hyper-active kid he once was. Few years back I met him at the movies and he told me he is living now in Hurgada as a diving instructor.

I don't know how Ihab died, but I heard his house was on fire, and he spent a week in the hospital with severe injuries until he exhaled his last breath.

Ihab died on the same day Nadine Khalil, his cousin, died years ago. Oh, Life!

I pray for you every day my old childhood Japanese friend. RIP angel.

- Hazem Fomel

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1981/1982
Date of Death: September 2012

Less than two weeks after Ihab passed away I woke up on the news of Hazem Fomel's death.

I got to know Hazem back in university. He was a funny guy with long hair. He listened to heavy metal and was different than most of the kids our age. He wasn't the sort of gothic people who just dress up in black and stay isolated with their headphones plugged in their ears. No, he was very outgoing and funny.

He was convinced that I like a girl with him in class called Nancy and he, amongst others, worte on every desk in university 'Sherif Zaki Loves Nancy'. And I am pretty sure that some of those desks are still alive with Hazem's handwriting even if he's no longer around.

Last time I saw him was probably back in university, eleven years ago.

Hazem died in a car accident coming back to Cairo from the North Coast. 

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Karim Nihad

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1983/1984
Date of Death: September 2005

Kiko, as he was known, was a very popular kid. He was an exqusitie drummer and a diver. I don't have any story to share about Kiko except that he was best friends with a friend of mine, Karim Hassan. I watched him live drumming before and I still remember him smashing those drums at 16 years of age full of life as if he owned the world.

I learned later that Kiko lives in Hurgada and is a professional diver. Years later I got the news he died under sea water while diving. His lungs exploded underwater. Very sad and tragic. He's in a better place now, and he is taking care of Amr Khaled's cat.
I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Carlo Zahra, Youssef Anan and Ali Abd El Aal

Date of Birth: The three were of different age groups (sometime between 1978/1984)
Date of Death: June 2001

A death that shocked a nation. That is the least to describe the accident that took away the lives of those three young men. Few hours before their death they were getting ready to go celebrate their graduation (or that's of their friends) from AUC. I am sure they even had dates to the prom, all dressed up in their suits, going to party and have fun. Who would have known that this was their final destination? I still remember the open letter in Al Ahram (the major national daily newspaper in the country) which Johnny Zahra (Carlo's father and Le Pacha's owner) publicly wrote and expressed his feelings about that accident.

I didn't know any of them personally.

I pray for you three every day. RIP angels.

- Moataz

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1979/1981
Date of Death: Sometime between 2009/2010

Moataz was a familiar face. He was good friends with some of my friends. He was a pleasant man and very decent too. He was engaged to a girl called Yasmine who was also friends with some of my friends.

Moataz's car burned down and he died inside. Catastrophic death.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ahmed Moussa

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1980/1981
Date of Death: Sometime between 2005/2007

Ahmed was a year older than me. He used to be with me in school and shared the same bus. He was white, tall, blonde and big. He's probably the first guy I met who practiced boxing at the club. I remember he had his shoulder once in a cast as he dislocated it while boxing. I don't think he ever went in a fight with anyone, in spite of his strong physique, but he was a quiet man and definitely someone who would avoid problems.

I didn't see Ahmed since he graduated from school in 1998, and it's sad how I found he died from a group on Facebook that is probably forgotton now.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ahmed Shakawa

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1981/1982
Date of Death: Sometime between 2003/2005

Shakawa as he was known amongst us, used to go to my old school and was same age like me. I never knew him in school, and only got to see him in the club, where we used to play football. He was a terrific player. He was popular with his speed and skills, and the big black birthmark on his face.

I don't even know if Shakawa was his family name or nickname.

I remember a story one time when he was amongst friends and there was this girl coming from afar and Shakawa told them to check the hot lady out, and as she approached, it turned out to be his sister. Funny.

Shakawa died in his sleep. He was buried very far away. His funeral was heart breaking.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ahmed Kaboria

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1981/1982
Date of Death: Sometime between 2007/2009

Kaboria as we used to call him used to go to university with me. He was one hell of a funny guy. He was a troublemaker but he was very funny. I never knew why Kaboria was his nickname, but I am sure he had the infamous haircut as a kid like all of us in Egypt when the movie Kaboria by Ahmed Zaki came out. I am pretty sure he kept it for some time, even when the fad was over, and that's why the name grew on him. 

Kaboria and I never exchanged phone numbers or hanged out together outside university, but he was one of those people that guaranteed you a good time whenever you spent some together.

I don't know how he died.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Mohannad

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1978/1981
Date of Death: Sometime between 1998/2001

This was a very famous young man. Very popular amongst everyone at the club during school years. He was fat. He was big. He was cheerful with a loud laugh.

Mohannad died in an accident from (or to) Cairo from (or to) Sharm El Sheikh.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Omar Cherin and Sherif Amr

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1988/1990
Date of Death: April 2007

Both Omar and Sherif died in a car accident along with another person who I really can't recall his name. I didn't know any of them or heard of them before in my life. Just like Fadel, I was introduced to them after their death.

They were high school seniors and died just a few months before their graduation. I got to know their story through my ex's sister at the time. Their story reminded me of all the ones (mentioned here and those who are not) who died before graduation. Those kids who probably would have been in the best jobs in the country right now, married with young kids, all leading happy lives.

I pray for you two every day. RIP angels.

- Dina Shaker

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1984/1985
Date of Death: June 2011

The death that sparkled a lot of media attention. Dina was Hany Shaker's (renowned Egyptian singer) daughter. She died after several battles with cancer.

I met Dina a couple of times as she was friends with an ex of mine. I really enjoyed talking with her. She was down to earth and friendly. I loved her husband who striked me as a very nice guy.

Dina got diagnosed with cancer and got treatment and it re-occured and her case was very bad. She died as a delicate flower leaving behind her two kids and a loving and caring family.

I met her husband last summer in the mosque, praying peacefully and I am sure his heart was full of devotion to his love and mother of his kids.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Soraya Agha

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1976/1979
Date of Death: January 2011

Soraya was the cousin of the love of my life. When you date someone for a long time, you get to know their family inside out, meet lots of their cousins, aunts, friends, etc. I didn't like many of my ex's friends. No specific reason, but they didn't like me back too. As for her family; I loved them exactly like my very own, and some of them are very dear to my heart, even if we no longer talk. My ex's family all lived at the same building with her, and I used to spend at least five days a week for half of my life there, hanging at her father's office located in the ground floor with the rest of our friends; playing games, studying, listening to music, or just chilling. Anyone who entered or left the building had to pass through us.

Soraya lived on the first floor. Her brother, Ahmed (or Ahmad as he likes to write it), became a very good friend of mine as days passed due to our football alliances, even if we both cheered for different teams, locally and internationally. Soraya had a laugh that I still hear its sound at the back of my mind. She had crystal green eyes and drove a very small reddish burgundy Daihatsu Sirion that is still parked in front of the building till this day. We always made fun of her car, and how small it could fit any parking slot.

Soraya got married and moved to Dubai, UAE. She gave birth to a little girl and I presume she was leading a happy life. She died in a car accident there, just a couple of years after her father died.

Two weeks after Soraya died, the Egyptian revolution took place. I think that's the best thing that could have happened to her family, taking away their occupied minds on something else. Even though I am sure that nothing would ever lighten up the death of a daughter, wife, sister, cousin or a friend.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Wahid Garranah

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1986/1987
Date of Death: Sometime between 2007/2009

Wahid used to go to school with me, but was years younger. I am not sure if he used to be with Ramy Tobgy (read above) in class or not, but he was definitely young. His older brother, Zoheir, used to be a year younger than me. They were both very white with straight hair; features uncommon in Egyptian men.

Just like many others, they left school around Grade 9 to join the CAC, which is the best American school in the country, and after high school, it was time to go to university abroad. Destination: Canada. A lot of my friends traveled to Canada too and used to be in the same circle of friends with Wahid and his brother, amongst others of course.

It was during one summer when they returned to Egypt when Wahid and his cousins who also lived in the same compound with him (as they owned it) were playing football inside their compound, at their private football pitch, which witnessed one of the strangest deaths of all time.

Wahid was standing as a goalie, and suddenly out of nowhere the goal posts and bars collapsed and crushed him. It was shocking, just like scene from the Final Destination movie. He died instantly.

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

- Ahmed Kotb

Date of Birth: Sometime between 1976/1980
Date of Death: April 2008

I didn't know Ahmed personally, but he was the brother of a very special friend of mine, who at one point was the closest friend I had, Mai. 

Ahmed was a sky diving instructor living in Canada. What I learned later is that he was amongst the world's best. 

He died in one of his jumps, due to a miscalculated landing error. 

I don't know if I will ever try sky diving. But if I do, then Ahmed will be on my mind during the jump. 

I pray for you every day. RIP angel.

I pray for many more people; family and friends, strangers and passer-byers, ones I haven't met nor seen. I pray for humanity. I pray for peace and I pray for love.

The names mentioned in this blogpost, and the ones I haven't mentioned, may have been forgotton by their families & friends, but they haven't been forgotton by me, and I am sure there are a lot of people out there who still pray for them more than I do.

If you die, be sure there will be at least one person who will remember you, talk about you, write about you and pray for you.

Once we truly know that life is difficult, once we truly understand and accept it, then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

RIP angels. You are always in our hearts.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Real Time Web Analytics