‘Ballerina In Chains’ by Ahmed Nader Gretly

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to celebrate life, but to mourn the dead.

Egypt, two pounds for a kilo of rotten tomatoes? A bum with rot under his finger nails in dirty rags howled a prayer when I gave him a quarter.

Egypt, why must you lock me in chains? I used to love you but now I have another mistress.

She might not be so gorgeous at times, but her soul is pure. She’s there when I need her, holding on to me when I’m frail, for her name is Freedom.

Egypt, you’ve trapped me under a glass jar for so long, watching me die like a modest pest, watching me with your ridiculous smirk.

Egypt I have a voice, and it is forceful, but you left me broken like Dylan’s raven on your window sill.

Look at your son, for he is illiterate, with worms digesting his brain cells, sinking away into the nothingness devouring his soul.

Look at your daughter for she is a whore, selling her body on the meat market for the highest bidder and sometimes for the low.

Egypt you were once a princess, but your arrogance made you grotesque. The pharos built the pyramids and I can’t even build a home.

Egypt you are a fool, your government is a cesspool.

You were once my queen but you no longer care, can’t you hear me scream?

Look me in the mind and tell me it is going to be okay. Look me in the heart and tell me this is all a joke.


I know this is true, I saw your children on the sidewalks eating trash mixed with shit.

Education? Knowledge? Salvation? Revelation?

We are all in the gutters and you don’t have a clue.

Take off your mask and tell me this isn’t true.

Don’t lie to me dear lady of the Nile, tell me the truth and I might forgive you someday.

Revolution? Why not?

You’ve cheated me for the last time.

I shall rise and you can’t stop me. I’m standing here in my own sorrow staring at the smoke filled sky. “Rest in peace dear government, rest in peace my love.”

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate life, not to mourn the dead.

Hold my hand dear lady and I shall show you peace, take me under your wing and I shall make love to you.

Give me my freedom and I shall create something so beautiful the world will remember till the end of time.

We are souls dancing in the abyss, like ballerinas swaying to the sound of your music.

Literary, literally, literacy, luminary and laterally.

I’m beat down and lack prosperity but at least I’m still free for I am the ballerina, the ballerina in chains.

But alas, the chains are broken, the ballerina is free.

Dance my child, dance to the song of freedom.

They said we couldn’t do it, they said we were just children, but we’ve proved them wrong.

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” The Beatles said.

Gentle people, funny people hand in hand.

No Muslims, no Christians, just Egyptians.

Egypt, I love you, I love you.

It doesn’t get said enough… I love you.

Egypt, I love your people, your streets, and your buildings.

Egypt, we broke these chains and now are flying towards to liberty.

Freedom! Freedom! Say it out loud.

My soul ached when I saw them hurting you.

My heart burst when I saw them killing you.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honor our loved ones.

The blood of the martyrs will never go to waste.

They did not die for nothing, they died for justice… they died for us to live.

Their blood flows in our bodies, they shall never be forgotten.

Egypt, I cried.

Egypt, I sighed.

Egypt, I am strong and my voice is mighty.

The Square.

O’ the square… what can I say?

No words can convey my emotions and infinite thoughts towards that place.

A place so pure, so honest and true.

I looked up and saw the gates of heaven watching over us.

Rich man, poor man beat down together.

But we shall never be beat again.

Shoot me if you may, burn me, stab me, but I will not back down.

I shall stand here till the end of time.

I shall stand here chanting songs of liberation.

I looked around me and saw Egypt’s blissful faces wearing a thousand smiles, I saw peace.

I saw people turning into angels.

I saw butterflies coming out of people’s brains.

I love you, I love you.

Let us revolt, let us protest but protect.

Let us change, let us seek.

I will be silenced no more.

Bang! They shot at us.

Smack! They tried to stop us.

Boom! They covered us with clouds of tear gas,

I have the lungs of a hippo…

Breathe breath.

Breathe gently my love.

I will protect you.

Smile, smile.

Smile my darling for I shall never leave you.

History is not a given.

Rewrite! Rewrite with golden ink and loaded pens.

I am not just a man, I am a nation.

Speak. Think. Love. Feel. Change. Smile. Dance.

I am your brother, father and son.

Egypt, take my hand and twirl with me.

The symphony was composed by the blood of the brave, written in thirty years.

A revolution in D minor it shall be.

Listen to the beating of my heart and look at me my love.

I am standing here with my roots in your soul.

Feed me your honesty, let me grow and I shall serve you.

Alas we have spoken.

Alas we are free.

Egypt is and always will be alive with its children.

Let this not only be a revolution by the people, let this be an evolution of the mind,

Rest in peace dear government, the ballerina in chains shall never be entrapped once more.

Dance dear lady of the Nile, for you are free.

Brothers and sister, mothers and fathers, we are gathered here today to celebrate change.

We are gathered here today to celebrate freedom.

But most of all, we are gathered here today to celebrate our new Egypt, a free Egypt.

I love you dear lady, my mistress… my love.


About Ahmed Gretly

Ahmed Nader Gretly. Construction/Site Engineer, fiction writer, poet, psychopath, researcher, a book addict, and a daydreamer from Cairo, Egypt. Currently doing Construction Project Management, MSc, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
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One Response to ‘Ballerina In Chains’ by Ahmed Nader Gretly

  1. The Londoner says:

    Oh, my favourite line:

    Look me in the mind and tell me it is going to be okay. Look me in the heart and tell me this is all a joke.

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