السبت، مايو 30، 2009

Motherhood, if not for Love


Mother of the World

Wael Nawara

Motherhood is pain. Pure and simple. A new fetus inside a mother’s womb exhausts her every resource. In fact, we can accurately think of this new “life” as a parasite living inside the mother feeding on her guts and sucking her blood. But because of love, it is a parasite that is celebrated, nurtured and protected. The pain does not end with the invariably long and agonizing process of delivery. In fact birth is immediately followed by a period of sleep deprivation and post-partum depression. Not only does the mother lose considerable part of her health reserves during pregnancy and nursing, but usually she also gains weight. So she becomes bigger but weaker! Less attractive and more vulnerable! Ya3 ! All of this is followed by a life of unpaid slave-labor, sleeplessness and emotional abuse eventually rewarded by desertion and abandonment.

During this miserably happy life, the mother takes up a large number of professions and plays countless roles to the child(ren) and to the man who agrees to play father, if any. The mother is expected to be a cook, cleaner, math teacher, priest, story-teller, lullaby singer, family driver, weight lifter, psychiatrist, defender of the family, scape-goat, lover, disciplinarian, milk-bottle, washing machine, iron, dishwasher, 24-hour restaurant, an exotic mistress, coffee-maker, home-tutor, alarm-clock, plumber, computer, finance minister or rather magician, tailor, hair-dresser, make-up artist, shoe-shiner, hand-kerchief, esteem-booster, doormat, nurse, host, back-rubber, massager, map-reader, mind-reader and why not also a successful career woman. And at the end, the children can’t wait to ungratefully leave. Sucks, doesn’t it? But the only thing which makes all this bearable is love. In short, if not for love, motherhood sucks. Without the enduring power of love, a mother would be better off strangling her child upon birth to get done with it!

Pain, But Where is the Love?
Egyptians cling on to that motherhood status for Egypt. I guess it is fateful, geographically speaking. It is geopolitically meant to be and there is nothing we can do about it but to adapt to and deal with it. Egypt, as Egyptians never tire from describing it, is the mother of the world. And for that Egyptians have to put up with all kinds of pain. Pain, yes, but is there love?

Not only did Egypt have to endure the longest period of occupation any other country in the world has witnessed, but we also had to be nice to our invaders to the extent of hating ourselves in compliance with their scriptures. For a few thousand years, Egypt was safe like a distant island in an endless ocean of sand. Following an alleged first union around 4,200 BC Egyptians enjoyed 2,500 years of isolation, slowly developing their highly evolved civilization. This took place till wheel-chariots were invented and used by the Hyksos to defeat Egyptians in around 1,650 BC. The Hyksos ruled for about 100 years till they were kicked out by kings of the 17th and 18th Dynasties and Ahmose reunited the land. Egyptians learned a tough lesson, that their peaceful nature and initial “imperial reluctance” served their greedy enemies who drawled over enviable civilization of the black land and craved to suckle from its riches.

Warrior monarchs of the New Kingdoms had to spend as much time abroad on military campaigns as they would spend at home, to set up advanced defense lines and early warning outposts. But it was a matter of time before the imbalance between Egypt’s appeal as a colony and its unpreparedness to ruthlessly build and guard an empire would betray its vulnerability to conquest. For several centuries Egyptians managed to drive out conquerors one by one. The Hittites, the Assyrians, the Libyans, the Ethiopians, the Persians but at the end, Egypt was as exhausted like a gazelle which has been singled out and persistently attacked by a pride of hungry lions all day. Egypt fell around 332 BC into the strong hands of Alexander the Great. Then the Romans came. Then the Arabs. Then the Turks and eventually the French and the Brits.

Drained Health and Wealth
Century after century, Egypt was robbed, raped and drained from its resources which would be shipped to Rome, Greece, London, Istanbul or Arabia. The French estimated that the population of Egypt was about 2.5 million inhabitants by 1800 AD. Compared to an estimated population of 8 million around the 2nd century BC, when the world was far less populous, Egypt was dying and its relative weight in world population may have dropped by ninety something percent from what it once was. Great empires suckled from Egypt’s riches and knowledge and relied on its strategic position as a foothold in the center of the crossroads of the world to control their kingdoms. Egypt was slowly dying, while giving birth to one empire after another. Egyptian crops, artifacts, skilled artisans and craftsmen were consistently shipped to the capital of the empire, wherever this may be. Egyptian farmers and merchants had to endure harsh tax rates which would only be increased by each new imperial power.

Knock Down the Pyramids?
You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

But perhaps the worst came when we began to develop a form of self-hatred as Egyptians started to adopt Abrahimic religions. Developing a little grudge between neighboring nations is a phenomenon which reoccurs almost everywhere. You find it between the Welsh and English, Danish and Swedes, Dutch and Belgians, and so on. But when that grudge is documented and enshrined into a complete set of Holy Scriptures of a faith which you subscribe to, a most awkward situation occurs. Many Muslims and Christians have come to despise their pre-Islamic and pre-Christian heritage as they were wrongly taught that the Bible and the Quran say that their ancestors were evil aggressive pagans. Paganism, it is evident, is poorly understood and is not at all stomached in strict monotheistic bellies. Just recently we started to hear fanatics calling for the destruction of the old Egyptian temples, pyramids, statues and icons. Only because these temples currently provide jobs and living for people working in the tourism industry, these pagan icons may temporarily be spared, but only until such time as when the Grand Islamic State is erected, at which time the wealth of the promised State will be so immense, thank God, such that these pagan temples and monuments will be deemed useless and then they should be mercilessly knocked down according to the extremists doctrine. (See a Dialogue with a Medical Student from the Muslim Brothers).

Sister, Mother, Whatever,
But Where is the Love?
Arabs also often use this term “The Oldest Sister”, not necessarily the mother, to describe Egypt at times. Usually these are the times when their media stations had been throwing all sorts of accusations of treason and other insults over Egypt and there is an uproar of a backfire from Egyptians. Egyptians working in the petro-dollar states have often have been so badly mistreated in some of their host Arab countries basically because Egypt has recently become relatively poorer as compared to the younger brothers and sisters of the petrodollar era.

Invited to your Funerals
But never your Weddings
Whether Egypt is an older sister or a struggling mother, the position surely comes with a lot of unwanted perks but with little love. I am not against forging strong relations with any neighbor, brother or sister, but I suggest that we start to re-examine the bill that comes along and demand that love must be a two-way street. Give and take ya3ni ya A7’ey.

For starters, we cannot help anyone if we do not start by acknowledging and appreciating who we are. With all respect to Christianity and Islam which Egyptians have adopted for two thousand years or so, Egypt worshipped Aser or 3aser for some 4,500 years. Our history does not start with Saint Mark or with Amr Ebn El 3ass ! We cannot help anyone else before we help ourselves. We cannot unite with anyone else before we ourselves are united in pride and appreciation and awe, yes awe, of our own heritage. The stories that our ancestors were evil tyrant pagans are just a load of bull. Our ancestors were just as good as the ancestors of any other nation if not kinder. You scan history of the Islamic States or Christian Roman Empires to see the real horrors of prosecution and abuse of religion for worldly benefits.

Second, this issue of the being the mother or the big sister or whatever, must come in both ways. If we are to take the liabilities we must also enjoy the “love” and benefit from the respect which comes with the status. I do not see any younger brothers or sisters paying tributes to the old sister who got tired of nursing, protecting and fighting on their behalf for so long till she was wiped out clean. We see the brothers and sisters placing billions of their dollars in American and European banks and investment houses such that they have lost about a trillion dollars in the recent economic crisis as stocks and property prices collapsed. Yet we do not see much of this love invested here with the big tired sister.

I advise Egypt’s Strong Man, to really act like a Strong Man and have a heart-to-heart talk with these little brothers and sisters. It is for the collective good of everybody! He should start by telling them about a proverb in Egypt which says, “You always invite me to your funerals but not once to a single wedding”. He should say: “To tell you the truth guys, the mother is high and dry and the time has come, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters for you to give back a little so that your grandchildren can find something to suckle upon. Motherhood is painful, my children, if not for love. Come on. Give back a little love you mother-lovers!”

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