Egypt, or How I Lost Hope by A. N. Gretly

​On the 2nd of January 2017, I watched ‘The Square’ for the first time on Netflix. It has been available for viewing since its release in 2013, but I could not bring myself to go through the process of revisiting these scenes again. Part of this was due to not wanting to see the devastatingly graphical images which have already been engraved in my brain for years. On the other hand, I did not want to be reminded of the utter hope we have experienced after the events that occured. 

I try not to think about it as much as I can, but the colossal clusterfuck that is the current state of the country forces one to revisit these events. When I brood upon it, I am often faced with flashes of images intermixed with single words. Images of smoke, blood, and grieving faces. Words such as corruption, justice, and greed. But most of all, where ever I stroll amidst all these thoughts, the word ‘Hope’ buzzes on and off in neon lights. Hope of a better tomorrow. Hope that it all meant something. Hope that it made any sort of difference. Hope that given the climate at the time, we could have started a cultural revelation as well as a political one. I can still remember the sensation of all the creative juices rushing through my veins, and exploding inside my head. However, as months went by, the hope began to ebb, and a sensation of nausea bubbled up in my guts. A deep, deep dread hovered around us like toxic fumes. 

In 2014, I left Egypt to study for my Masters degree, but the real reason behind leaving for Scotland was that I could not handle Cairo anymore. Do not get me wrong, it was not the political situation or the lies or ignorance that got me, it was the complete and utter loss of hope. It was lost hope and witnessing a nation sinking back into its old habits of acceptance, of compliance, and of being delusional. I could not stand watching an entire country deciding to revisit its own “Animal Farm” while knowing what happened to its residents. Going back to the culture of “Napoleon is always right” and “Snowball did it”. 

I spent a year away from home, and when I returned, it was home no more. There was a shift. Everything looked the same, but felt completely different. The places, the faces, the sounds. It was corrupt. It was tampered with. It was rotten. But Napoleon was still right, and Snowball was still to blame. The economy went to shit, the rich were getting richer and the poor were poorer than ever. Same old same old, nothing new there, move along, folks. It was a tame Orwellian nightmare veering on full night terror, so I left yet again. 

I am well aware that running away is not the answer, and I am angered by those who believe that being outside of Egypt is the solution. In many ways, I did not choose to leave my family and friends and land, in many ways, I was forced out. I was forced out because they have taken my hopes and dreams. You see, that’s what they do, they always hit you right in the hope. And when hope dies, there is no room for dreams. I realize that now. They can take everything from you, but it’s when they take your hope, every last bit of it, that’s when you are truly lost. 

Watching this film reminded me of my lost hope, it reminded me of that euphoric sensation of peak creativity. I have no hope in the current government, but I believe that at some point, the people will come out of their daze and remember. Remember. Remember everything. I love my country, but I DO NOT love Big Brother.

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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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