Their feast is in prisons
Written by: Ahmed Gamal Zyada, on July 16, 2015.
Translated by: Christine Emad
Between four walls they sit down, waiting and wishing to watch something different, or hear voices that remind them of the days that never spin away of their minds. But there’s nothing new except that there’s nothing new; same faces, same voices, and the same prison bars…
The same comrade that always says: “Imagine my friend, we were free some day, walking down the streets with no dates, breathing freely, watching the sun without barriers, sitting in front of the sea, seeing our beloved ones, sleeping on a bed that suffices five prisoners” Thus be the stories there, behind prison bars.
We dream of getting a good job, having a fun journey, and we seek shelters from the sun. While they summed up their wishes in getting an hour of wideness in a dull lane that the sun never enters. The prison’s administration prevents this hour of wideness for security reasons, or bad weather, or because some human rights activists staged a demonstration in the North Pole in solidarity with detainees.
During sleeping, we’re bothered with the loud noise of TV. While they’re bothered with the noise of security soldiers came for searching their cells or stealing its contents after dawn. Most of the time the “searching” turns into “stealing”, insults and violation.
We get bored of reading and we use books to decorate our libraries, we dispense journals because we use the internet, and we think about exchanging a bed with another that can make us feel more comfortable. You think of leaving your house and of not seeing you parents for a while, while their wishes are summed up in reading a book or a journal or listening to the radio. They don’t mind sleeping on cell’s floor, but getting two feet to sleep on is a difficult dream to come true. They wish they can see their families for more than 20 minutes.
We love holidays and feasts; we wish them to go on because they’re our opportunity to empty our minds. In prisons, detainees hate all holidays and feasts as well, they wish them to end fast, so that ordinary days would come sooner, that’s because the police celebrate the detainees in their own way. They close the cells doors from the feast’s night until the end of Eid’s 3 days (Muslim’s feast), they prevent them from the wideness in that dull lane, and so it becomes a dream for them as it is heaven. Ignore the untrue media statements and prisons regulations that the police don’t follow. That’s the actual reality.
You always hear that the prisons authority announces for exceptional visits for detainees on the occasion of the Eid, but let me tell you that the exceptional visits don’t exceed ten minutes, and may be the waiting period of a detainee’s family can last from day to night, claiming that the numbers are large. Entering the prisons visiting room in earlier time depends on how much bribes you pay, that explains why you find the visits of drug and gun dealers last longer than these of opinion detainees, they also don’t wait for long hours to get in the visiting room as you do. There’s a different between you and them; you’re a political activist and they are killers!
The beautiful voices coming from the mosques singing “God is the greatest, praise to God” make happiness seeps to our souls. Eid prayers in squares, offering gifts for children and watching Egyptian classic and funny plays like “Hooligans” and “Witness that hasn’t witnessed anything” are interesting things to do although we do them every Eid. The idea that your family would give up Eid prayers waiting from the very early morning to see you in front of prison doors to relieve some of your grief, is sufficient to kill you of sorrow, so you must burry your grief inside your heart and smile.
Detainees pray Eid prayers between four walls, they smile with endless wounds in their deep insides, they look at prison doors when they’re opened for a minute in the morning of the Eid to enter them food and bread, and may be some detainees beg the guards to let them hang their washed clothes outside the very crowded cell, and the guards are free to agree or refuse.
See the guards circumvent you as you’re a tourist; they ask you for cigarettes or some food or drinks that you’re keeping in your cell for necessity. “Merry Eid Ahmed, you are not offering us anything this feast, aren’t you?” say the guards, with a warning tone in their voices: “We are not opening the cell after the Eid unless you offer us something” … You feel mad when you see those who are controlling you are not thinking about anything other than their stomachs, but hold your horses and don’t hazard, if you enter the disciplinary cell, you will be deprived of being visited for a whole month.
When the Eid prayers end, everybody sleeps as they’re dead, it’s the escapism.
One my comrades in the cell said: you know this choral of children singing after “Safaa al-Soaod” _ Egyptian classic artist (October 9, 1950)_ in her song “Eid is joy”, they do not actually believe her when she sings “Eid is Joy” part.
-How do you know that, genius?
-Because when she sings: “Eid is joy”, they sing back: “Yeah”, “Yeah” here actually means “yeah?” like that we say when we’re told something we don’t believe.
But there are always things that can distract your sadness; I still remember the voice of my comrade “Yassin Sabry” in the next cell singing “Free your dogs in our streets and lock us in yours prisons” that famous classic song for “Sheik Imam” _ Revolutionary Egyptian singer and composer (july 2, 1918 – June 7, 1995) _ so the cell turns into a theatre to sing in, the guards shout ordering us to shut up, but when singing starts, who the hell can silence us?!
Poetries are written, audio dramas are played and imitating the sounds of animals in a funny, and tearful way too