Natural Disasters

Ad Daljamun, Ad Delgamon, Kafr El-Zayat, Egypt

Lightning lights up the night sky. A shiver runs up my spine. Perhaps, I ought to take the storm as a good omen. However, I can’t wait for this daunting night to be over. I return home, crawl into bed and throw a thick blanket over my head.

The sky has not yet cleared when I wake up the next morning. It seems daylight might never fully break again. I feel blue, as if my intention were to make up for how the sullen skies are shining. I get dressed, in the hope that, by the time I am ready to step out the door, the sky’s wrath has petered out. Once again, I come to realize that I am guilty of wishful thinking.

Hence, I sit down with the rest of my family to stuff myself with food and idle the day away, mostly, in silence, for none of us are any good at entertaining an audience with words. We just eyeball each other, while trying to find something to say. Someone suggests, jokingly—most likely—that we should offer a sacrifice to the sky, so that the rain might cease. An awkward silence ensues, after which, we all return to our rooms. There is not much to do inside. The lamps we have in the house do not provide enough light for reading.

I stick my head out the window. The rain pelts down on my face. It feels cold.

While the women apply themselves to the task of carrying the rainwater that threatens to swamp the houses to the river, the men spend their time swapping anecdotes over a hot beverage and a shisha. The women are running up and down half-naked. It could be their way of galvanizing the men into action or just a way to make moving around while schlepping buckets filled to the brim with water less of a pain. Fact is, the paper boat I build to sail the river sinks, which brings me to the conclusion that some waters can prove to be particularly hard to navigate.

At some point, the men have to step in and all hell breaks loose. The women were following the overflowing water’s example by overstepping their bounds and undermining all that guarantees that our lives stay on course. Fortunately, the only woman in our household is my mother, who is too old to care about getting down and dirty.

Suddenly, my father just gives up. He tells me and my brothers to stop bailing out the water that is now coming through the ceiling, because, apparently, we are all doomed to drown no matter what. He avers that, since tomorrow is Friday, it makes perfect sense that this cataclysm is in fact God’s will: a second deluge to purge the world of evil.

Eventually, the rain stops and everything goes back to normal. As it turns out, we were all suffering from mounting paranoia.

Mamdouh Mohamed Abd-Elsattar Nasr
Written by Mamdouh Mohamed Abd-Elsattar Nasr.