Friday, June 29, 2007

Madny 2

After Noumeri - the ex president of Sudan - was dismissed from power in 1983, I went back to Sudan to do a story for Radio Arabic Netherlands about what was called THE UPRISING: the "uprising of the people who sit in the sun", el shamassah
In the beginning I did not get the meaning, but then I realised it is an expression used in Sudan to identify the freelance workers - so to speak - who just sit in the sun waiting for somebody to hire them for a day's work; most of them carry their tools with them so they can begin work the moment they arrive at their destination with their 'boss'. Now you can find them in what is called the new cites around Cairo such as the Sixth of October.
After I had stayed a while in Khartoum I decided to take the train and visit Madny which is about six hours trip, although the distance is only 200 miles. When I arrived I was shocked to see how she, Madny, had deteriorated since the last time I saw her in 1965 after I was released from prison one year earlier.
I went looking for a hotel to spend the one night I decided to stay; the only hotel I could find had no place for me except on the roof where they showed me many beds lined up beside each other. It was already night and I felt depressed and tired, so I accepted. I spent a restless night with the sounds, feeling crowded. Early morning I put some tea in my stomach and went for a walk, trying to reactivate my memory about the old places. I found myself walking in the direction of the Nile: the blue Nile which comes from Ethiopia running north to meet the white Nile coming from Uganda in a place in Khartoum called "el Moqran" (the union,) and when I arrived I found so many changes to the "Corniche"; the worst thing of course was that I lost my way until I found a woman who sells tea and coffee sitting under a big tree. I went towards her, sat on a small stone used as a chair and asked her to give me Jabana (coffee) without sugar. She asked me astonished: not even one spoon? I said no thanks. She could not accept that so I tried lying and told her that I am diabetic and the doctor forbade me to drink anything and coffee especially without sugar. She expressed her sympathy and offered me a good Jabana with herbs which I enjoyed and asked for again, and we talked and she asked me about myself and so on...
When I wanted to pay her she refused to take money saying: but I just gave you coffee without sugar and also you are sick.
After a lot of insisting from my side (I felt guilty about the doctor story) she took the money. After that I felt much better thinking about the dignity of this poor woman sitting under the tree selling tea and coffee!

1 comment:

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

What a very lovely story. It reminds me of my Egypt juice story on my blog.