Taxi Talk

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Excerpt from Khaled Alkhamisi's "Taxi"


Passing by the fences that enclose Cairo University, I found myself confessing to the cabbie how much I missed my college days. For some reason I told him that two decades ago, when I was still a student within those walls, I had many dreams for our country. I also told him that the aftershocks of those dreams have continued to shake me to the core to this very day. I told him that the majority of those who betrayed their youthful dreams were given the keys to the iron gates, and that the majority of the dreamers were crushed, along with their dreams, to smithereens.

CABBIE: And what school did you go to?

I: Economics and Political Science.

CABBIE: Oh, so you actually studied politics?

I: Yes.

CABBIE: Great, I have a question that’s been bugging me for a while…

I: Let’s hear it. I might be able to help…

CABBIE: Suppose, just suppose that we say to America: “You have nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. If you don’t destroy all those weapons, we will isolate you and maybe even declare war against you. It is our moral duty to use military force to protect Cuba. It’s a small, defenseless country and we must protect it”.

Of course all this talk is just for show. But it’ll create an international situation. The world will have to take our side, just like it sided with them when they said the same thing about Iraq and about Iran too. I’m not saying we should go to war against them. I’m sure you catch my drift. All I’m saying is we use the same words they use about other countries in the world. For instance, we can demand to monitor US elections. How can we be sure that they are free and fair? We must ask for international supervision of their elections. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody in America and the whole world has said that the Bush elections were rigged. His brother, the governor of that state whatever it’s called, manipulated the ballot boxes to make him win. We just say that we want to defend democracy; we want to send our judges to ensure the integrity of the democratic process. Isn’t that we they say?

You know? If we did that, we’d be giving them a taste of their own medicine. They’ll understand what they’re doing to other people. And we’ll vent the steam off our chests. When you have a major problem, what do you do? You pick a fight with someone. You howl and scream. Your problem doesn’t go away, but you calm down and feel a bit better just for venting off some steam.

We could also bring a law suit against America because it supports international terrorism and because it backs undemocratic regimes. Nothing would be easier to prove. Look around you, there’s evidence galore. Once we do this, we become pro-democracy and anti-terrorism. Dozens of countries will then take our side against America.

Another very important thing; we must abolish the word “American”. We must say White Irish Protestant from America, Black Muslim from America, Hispanic from America or Black Protestant from America. Just like what they say now. Six Shia from Iraq and two Sunnis from Iraq were killed today. The sons of bitches in our newspapers just follow suit and use the same words. Of course they must now be talking about a Copt from Egypt and a Muslim from Egypt. We must be loud and clear in our demand for the protection of the rights of blacks in America. We must go to court if a White Scotsman from America takes the life of a Black African from America. It’d be our duty to bring the world upside down. The guy is African like you and me. He’s closer to us than a White Italian American with a mole on his cheek is to an Egyptian Copt. The protection of the Black minority there is our responsibility. We have a duty to look into every detail…

I’ve been going on and on expecting you to say something, but you keep silent...

I: Just thinking about what you said…

CABBIE: My radio is on all day. What the Americans say is making me sick. “We feed you. We show you how to wipe your ass. Do this. Don’t do that”. Fucking hell, one is gonna explode. People have had it to their eyeballs with this crap. So, I had this brainwave. Give them a taste of their own medicine; yes Sir, that’s the way. How does the saying go? Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones? They might not know it, but their house is of frail, cracked glass…

I: Why don’t you send this suggestion to some newspaper?

CABBIE: C’mon Sir. I’m just blabbering away, venting off the steam. They are happy to see the Americans have their way with us…The only suggestion they’d welcome is for the Americans to install a camera in each and every Egyptian bedroom…to monitor the population explosion….



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