Kristin Jankowski: And the bloody T-Shirt in his hands

Posted on December 12, 2012 by

It was his bloody T-Shirt. The white T-Shirt that he was holding in his hands. It was his bloody T-Shirt that caught my attention. I was not able to look away. He held it in his hands, like a child who has a new toy and doesn’t want to give it to his friends. He embraced it with his skinny fingers. Sitting on his bed. With his big and white plaster on his head.  Kamal Mahdy got injured during the clashes on the 5th of December close to the Presidential Palace. A stone hit his head.

And now, one week later, he wore a black Adidas track suit. And he didn’t remember the names of his close friends anymore. He spoke very slow, thought about every word. Moved his mouth as if he was lost in time.  Medication in front of him. Tablets. On the table close to his bed. His eyes were glassy. Sometimes he smiled at his friends. They were laughing with him, when he forgot their names. Again and again.  Others sat speechless on chairs, hiding their tears. Smoking cigarettes. And Kamal held his bloody T-Shirt in his hands. He wore it at that night when he got injured. It is not washed. It is full of old blood. And he wants to keep it in his bed. It is a memory of a very sad night in egypt’s history.

I sat on a chair, moved to his bed again, sat in front of him.  He looked at me. My friends asked him if he is remembering my name now. But he didn’t. I just know him randomly. As a guy who is shaking my hand and smiling at me when he meets me in the streets of Cairo. And I am sure he knew my name.  He was wondering, moved his head very slow. And he said to my friend, that I am not  Egyptian. Then she laughed and told him, he is right and that I am not Egyptian. I tried to smile. But I couldn’t. I was fighting with my tears. I didn’t want to cry. Not there.

I looked at him, how he was sitting on his bed. Next to him was a picture on a wall with a waterfall. A photo  of the former President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Yellow Stickers of the No-Military-Trials Campaign. The colorful bedcover that was holding his weak body warm.

And the bloody T-Shirt in his hands.

He coughed.  Suddenly his whole body seemed to be full of pain. He screamed for a few seconds.  He whimpered. My body started to hurt also. I couldn’t look at him. I took a deep breath.  After a couple of seconds I peeked at him again. He let his head hang. I could see the plaster. His friend tried to move his head.  His eyes were closed.

Kamal Mahdy is not just a number in the newspapers. He is a human being with flesh and blood. And with a bad injury on his head.  The doctor says, he will be fine. But it takes time. Hopefully.

Kamal Mahdy and all the other people who got injured or who died during the bloody clashes in the last two years shouldn’t be forgotten. They could be your neighbors, your friends.

And also your enemies.

But is your hatred and your anger really so deep and uncontrolled that you would do the same to your enemy also ?

Please think twice before you answer.