Yesterday I went with my daughter and husband to the Banha Social Club. There they have a playground, a wedding hall, and outdoor seating on a lawn where you can sit with tea or soft drinks. There is also a small masjid where we prayed al-asr. For the first time since I moved here, I was able to swing (but not lean fully back while doing so, because that’s immodest).
While we were sitting with drinks, a bee (which I rarely see in Egypt) flew to me. I used to be scared of bees until I was in high school. It was then that I would be sitting outside in the quad for lunch, and yellow-jackets would harass me to share with them. It turned out they only wanted small bits of my lunch meat, so I started to give that to them freely. I was amused to watch them fly away with it in their grasp like tiny winged dogs with prized bones.
I let the bee come to the pepsi can I was holding. I let it go inside the can to get whatever syrup it wanted, while I continued to drink through the straw. It left and came back again several times, and I always allowed it whatever it wanted. I heard that a sustained bee population is crucial to our ecosystem and survival, and considering the lack of greenery in Egypt, I figured that was the least I could do to help them continue their part in the circle of life.
When I came home after maghrib, I learned that Tita had been fasting all day and wanted me to fix her plate. I did so and sat with her until she finished eating, then made her favored green tea (shae achdar). She and I often try to talk in arabic, but I’m sure only about half of it is clearly communicated to her or I, due to my lack of fluency.
This afternoon I fixed myself a nice tray of dinner which consisted of ‘eish balady, chicken (farrach), rice (roz), lobyah, and salad. Lobyah is basically black-eyed peas mixed with red sauce. Normally I can’t stand black-eyed peas, but because Tita made it, I gobble it up.
Salad here is not like salad in the west, which is made mostly with any kind of lettuce. Here the base for salad is cucumber and tomato. Salad can be made easily by dicing both and just adding salt. More elaborate versions include onion, cilantro or parsley, lemon juice, and perhaps carrots.
Today I am feeling peaceful because spaces are beginning to open up. They are the spaces I needed to begin to open. I don’t know which specific space my waters will flow into, but having the spaces there comfort and reassure me. In the meantime, I enjoy my moments as both a mother and daughter-in-law.