Posted by : (Tasoni) Saturday, October 06, 2012

At the turn of this century in Egypt, everyone listened to the same radio songs for a year or two. There was the year of Amr Diab, then the year of Samira Said, then the year of Nancy Ajram.

Oh, Nancy Ajram! I once impressed a cousin by quoting a line from a Nancy Ajram song in response to something he said. His jaw dropped a little and wide-eyed, he said, "Is this girl living with us or something?" (trans.). Impressing cousins... that was the big goal of every visit to Egypt. They were so secure on their home turf, so cocky, so confident in their Arabic. My God! They could cross the streets of Cairo by themselves, without clinging in fear to an aunt! They took part in "gang" fights and won! It took me years to see that maybe they were equally intrigued by their visiting American cousins.

I often wonder how life would have turned out if I had stayed in Egypt. I feel like a part of me that was written in Arabic in my mind was shut off when English took over as my language of choice. How many memories were lost in that transition?

My parents have a cassette tape of little me singing Arabic spiritual songs. When I listen to that person, captured there on tape, all I can think about is how confident she is. Where is that bravado? I know that girl could've crossed the street without wincing.

There's something about being uprooted that changes you forever. I'll always have one foot on each continent. I'll always be a little unsure of myself, of where I stand, of whether I've said the right thing.

Or is that just part of being human?

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