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Without prognosticating, analyzing, rationalizing – irrespective of what happens next week, the next day, or the next hour – I think what’s happening in Egypt right now is beautiful.

It’s one of those moments, those rare historical moments that you read about in your classroom within the pages of a textbook,  and it all seems so distant, almost fictional, and as you memorize the facts for tomorrow’s quiz you believe quite firmly in your heart that nothing like that will happen in your lifetime. Because you were born too late, because  such grand, moving events just don’t happen anymore…

When rank and class and position, the neighbourhood you live in, the clothes you wear, the work you do, the dialect you speak,  everything that separates you from your fellow countryman or woman on any ordinary day suddenly melts away; when, for once, a system that is based on divisions and duties and somebody else’s rules breaks down, and people speak with one voice – not hundreds, not thousands, but millions. Then, there is no power, no number of tyrants, tanks or tear gas in the world that can silence them.

I’m not there in Tahrir Square in Cairo, but I can feel the thrill, the exhilaration that something momentous is unfolding before my very eyes.

It feels a little like the time when Obama became President in 2008. Irrespective of what came after, the broken promises, the disillusionment, that moment itself was pure magic; when a joy and a hope stronger than anything else swept over us at the I-house in Berkeley, and people from every corner of the world cried and cheered and celebrated in a unison that couldn’t be explained, only experienced.

Or the time when Pakistani students rose up against General Musharraf’s martial law in November 2007, abandoning their books and taking to the streets with a passion that nobody knew existed, and young people in Pakistan felt – even if only for those dramatic few weeks – that we actually had the power to change the society we lived in, for the better.

What ensues from such extraordinary moments isn’t always better, or different from before. But isn’t life more about the moments than the monotonous spaces between them?  The birthdays, the marriages, the revolutions and revelations, those precious fleeting moments of unadulerated emotion that you savor and look back to forever?

Egypt has had its moment. Egypt will never be the same. The Arab world will never be the same.

And Egyptians aren’t thinking, “What if Mubarak doesn’t step down after all? What if the constitution isn’t changed at all? What if another puppet dictator takes over in his place?”

These questions and speculations and eternally encumbering “what-ifs” don’t bother them, shouldn’t bother them. The Egyptian people have spoken. They have shown their courage, their humanity, their unity to the world, and to themselves. That is the power, that is the point. That is what matters.

6 thoughts on “Egypt

    Amna said:
    February 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Great piece! And they did it! Mubarik’s off :D

    Jenny Chu said:
    February 8, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    You are such a beautiful, emotional writer, Manal! Hope you and your family are well in Lahore.

    Sadaf said:
    February 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Events transpiring in Egypt are fascinating. I’ve been riveted by the reports, as they are. Of course, what remains to be seen is the ultimate outcome. What kind of country are Egyptians willing to fight for. Will that country be one that respects democracy for everyone once the revolution is over? Or are these lofty concepts that only apply to the point of taking control? We shall see.

    nasir said:
    February 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Brilliantly written. You capture the passion, and the emotion of this historical fight for democracy being waged by the Egyptian people.

    Isfand said:
    February 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    We dont need a revolution,we are already a democray,ya a sham democracy but still a democracy wht we need is far better governance.

    Adeel | said:
    February 1, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Pakistan also need such type of revolution.

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