A Letter to my Freshman Self  

My Dearest Eighteen-Year-Old Self,

I shall not lie to you and say that the next five years of your (our) life wouldn’t be tough. It’s only going to be tough because I haven’t seen any tougher yet.

You’re going to get your heart broken a couple of times. You’re going to lose loved ones. You’re going to spend months in darkness. You’re going to cry every night for years. You’re going to stop eating and suffer from depression. You’ll spend months unable to taste food. You’re going to get anemia and vitamin deficiency. You’re going to feel like an eighty-year-old. You’re going to be stressed like never before. You’ll never be more confused. You’ll feel numb for years. You’ll never be less religious. And homesickness will slap you hard on the face.

My dearest younger self,

In spite of the darkness that you’ll pass through, you’ll meet the greatest people you’ll ever know. You’ll become a bit closer to your roots. You’re going to witness your country pass through the most exciting times in its modern history. You’re going to speak out your opinions and stand up for what you believe.

In the next couple of years, you’re going to meet yourself. The better bits and the worse. You’re going to love you and hate you. You’re going to become your own best friend.

But promise me, my dearest younger self, to make use of all the opportunities you get. To not be afraid from dialing the phone, to be less hesitant and more confident in your decisions. Promise me, to break loose from society earlier on, to fight back for your rights and freedom. Promise me, to always believe in yourself. That despite what the mirror tells you, you’re still beautiful and there are people who love you. Promise me, to keep your head high. To believe in your abilities the way you did back in high school. Promise me, to take all your medicine.

Promise me, to love yourself.

Yours,

Your (almost) Graduate Self.

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A Return for Silence

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In the past two days, the temperature suddenly dropped 20 degrees. The extreme weathers of the year hit Cairo in just two days. At home, it was like a movie scene, the goodbyes at the door, the pushing back of our tears, and the sadness of being parted, again and again. It was raining outside and the unexpected desert cold hit us to the bone. We raced for our closets and took out our dusty coats. We hugged and kissed for the last time and they drove away. In a moment the walls fell back to place, and the space was suddenly silent. I could only hear my fingertips rapidly hitting the keyboard to keep pace with the overflow of words in my head and the roaring of a car every now and then. The laughs and screams were gone.

The music in my head suddenly became louder to overcome the silence that has always been haunting me.

I kept staring at the window hoping for a distraction to my thoughts. I admired the pitched roofs of the neighboring villas which have been finally put to use with all the rain, the yellow plaster on their facades now glowing under the brightness of the cloudy sky, the emptiness of the uninhabited ones, and the greenery now brighter after being washed by the rain. I then remembered those days exactly a year ago, and nostalgia for my semester abroad kicked in. Then, I felt an urgent need to splash into a water puddle.