[Prelude: Read my post for background information about what happened during the Egyptian Revolution.]
January 25th – Morning
“My parents won’t let me go to Tahrir Square, please come speak to them!”
Minna murmured through tears and gasps. Youssef guessed Minna had gotten into another fight with her parents. Youssef didn’t like getting involved in arguments between Minna and her parents, even though she was his fiance and they were his in-laws. This time it was different.
Youssef rang the doorbell to Minna’s house. Youssef waited, unable to stand still. He was itching to join the protests. His friend had just told him the rallies were massive, larger than anyone had expected. A minute later the door swung open, Minna’s large father filling up the door frame. His mustache messy, his eyes wide with anger, and his cheeks flushed.
“Is everything okay?” Youssef was scared to bring up the issue of joining the protests, he pretended to not know what was going on.
“Your fiance wants to go to Tahrir Square. She says you’re going and she wants to go with you. This is crazy!”
“You trust me sir don’t you? And you know how much I care about Minna, I would never let anything harm or hurt her. But we need to do this. We need to fight for our future and the future of our country.” Youssef looked straight into his father-in-law’s eyes, they had a good respectful relationship which Youssef didn’t want to ruin, but he knew how important this was and how stubborn Minna can be. Minna would probably have gone behind her parents’ backs.
Minna walked up behind her father. “Aren’t you the one always complaining about how corrupt the government is and how unfair you think it is for our generation? We don’t even stand a chance.”
“Sir, the minute I sense any danger I will make sure Minna is as far away from it as possible, but you need to understand this is our first time speaking out and not living in this constant state of fear.” Youssef extended his hand out to engulf Minna’s. He saw the fire in her eyes but he wouldn’t let her leave on bad terms with her father.
“If you guys go, you have to be back before sundown. You do not stand at the front of any demonstration, you call every single hour.”
January 25th – Evening
That night, around 10:30 pm, Youssef decided he needed to get Minna home. It had been dark for no longer than an hour and Youssef’s promise to Minna’s father was that he would keep her safe and get her home before midnight.
Minna resisted, she wanted to stay. The roads were all blocked off and taxi’s were no where in sight. Youssef, Minna and their friend Yehia decided to walk
They took a break every hour at least. Minna tried not to slow them down or stop them, even though Youssef could tell she was in pain. Women’s shoes aren’t made for walking distances, her blistering feet hurt with every step she took, when she stood, sat and even when she took her shoes off. Youssef offered to give her a piggy-back ride. Minna gave him her sidelong glance. Youssef coiled back.
They turned onto Minna’s street. As they approached Minna’s building they noticed her mother, Wafaa, standing in the balcony, her white scarf billowing in the air. Wafaa let out a curt yelp, her hands flying to her chest. Minna and Youssef were attacked by Minna’s parents. They smothered both of them with hugs and kisses. Minna’s parents were thankful they were home safe. The next morning the whole family geared up and went to Tahrir Square together.
January 28th – Noon
On the night of January 27th, Youssef and his friend Adam spent the night in one of the apartment buildings facing Tahrir Square.
“We stayed at my friends house, but what I found amazing is that so many people in those buildings around the square, opened their houses for the protesters. They let them use the washrooms, take showers, eat and even spend the night.”
When they reached the square they were shocked. The tents they had been camping in for the past two days were drenched in blood. The guy two tents down was nowhere to be seen. His old staticy radio that played Um Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez every morning, was silent. The two girls in their twenties who housed the large black tent in the back, would have gone crazy had they seen the rags their tent had been reduced to. Mohammed, the guy in the tent next to Youssef and Adam’s, who had hitchhiked from El Minya all the way to Tahrir Square, was also nowhere to be found.
Youssef tried to call Minna but the cell phone lines were all shut down. He had to warn her not to come. Youssef was pretty sure Minna wouldn’t listen, but he was going to put his foot down this time.
He went back to his friends apartment and used the phone to call Minna’s house. Minna picked up after the first ring. Youssef was able to breathe again.
“Are you okay? Please tell me you didn’t get hurt!” Minna was crying, her voice choppy and squeaky between gasps.
“Yes, yes I’m fine don’t worry. Alhamdulilah (Thank God) we chose to spend the night at Mohammed’s house. What happened? What does the news say?”
Minna told him how the State Security had sent a group of baltagiya (escaped convicts) on horses and camels, with knives and sticks to attack the protesters in the early hours of dawn. The governments attempt at clearing out Tahrir Square had failed once again. Minna joined Youssef and hundreds of other revolutionaries at Tahrir Square to clean the tents and streets. This was their country and they wouldn’t let a dictator take it from them anymore.