Sunday, December 24, 2017

Brotherly Love

Abu'l Ezz, myself and Hagag

The homes of my Egyptian brothers are made of humble materials: mostly earth and some wood. Even the floors are dirt, so when one of the family sweep, they are sweeping clean the bare earth. Doors and windows almost always are open. Animals come in and out—pigeons that peck crumbs and are cared for, and cats. Cows, rabbits, ducks, turkeys and chickens—all part of the household. Flies too. One was on Abu’l Ezz’s nose when I took a family portrait. I noticed a dark spot on his face. He was stoically bearing a fly on the bridge of his nose between his eyes while keeping still for the picture. It was easy to remove in photoshop.

I enjoy being, “part of the family.” At times I have thought while sitting with my friends, that I have never been more comfortable. Nothing is elegant or fancy. No cars, and the barest of furnishngs. Children come and go, pigeons flutter around and walk at my feet, I hear the cow and eat delicious cheese from it's milk. I am always offered tea. My refrigerator stays well stocked because I am asked to eat with the families so often and they send food home with me.

Abu'l Ezz and Family

One evening I arrived at Ezz’s place for dinner and he insisted I take off my shoes to rest myself on the divan and stretch out. Then he noticed how dusty they had become so he called his youngest daughter Amira to come and clean them. She did so with good nature.

When I go shopping with Hagag he never accepts commission for food or cloth. That would raise the price. I pay Egyptian prices and have saved a lot letting him go ahead of me. How could I make money off of you, he asks, you are my brother! 

Hagag and his Family

When I go somewhere, one of my brothers is with me as guardian and helpmate. Hagag even walks me home, to be sure there are no hassles. When I am with Ezz, he sends his son to fetch the Mercedes to give me a ride home. It is an inside joke . . . but I am just fine with laying back in the cool night air and letting the boy drive the donkey ahead.

With the coming of winter, air goes from hot to cool more rapidly and many people are sick with a cold or cough. It happened to me. Hagag insisted I go to a doctor. So I went. Both Ezz and Hagag went with me at night and stayed by my side.

They are taking me on a boating for Christmas. It is not their holiday. Both are Muslim, but care so much for me that they want me to celebrate the big American holiday. The true gift they bring me is brotherly love.

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