STRANGER IN A STRANGE WORLD – The Journey

Boarding

He sat there.

Waiting.

A long queue of eager travellers lay before him, excited and enthusiastic.

He looked at his hand. He held his green Egyptian passport and a boarding pass in it.

Cairo to Istanbul. That was his first leg of the journey. The second would bring him all the way to Prague.

He thought for a moment. Why Prague? What brought him to this point where he was standing on the verge of a journey full of obscurity and potential surprises at every turn.

He closed his eyes and transported his mind back to the turning point events of the last few years.

He remembered his High School years and the comfort he felt there. After having spent several years abroad due to his father’s work, it was a relief to know he was back to a place he could truly call home. He continued his studies in the French international School in the upscale neighbourhood of Maadi in Cairo. Despite the distance from his home, his parents insisted on this school, to ensure his children would complete their education in the same system they had started in. He didn’t mind, he could easily find his comfort zone there, despite the fact that he had always been the “special” kid in the school. But this was nothing new to him. Was it?

Ever since he was a little kid he had always done things his own way. He knew no other way.

He was made fun of by the boys as a child for spending one day playing doctor with the girls and eating leaves fallen from the trees, and then spending the following day playing football with the guys and smashing into the asphalt not caring for any pain. He was equally amazed by the large Barbie house his sister played with, as well as the latest Spiderman themed gadgets in the stores.

Somehow the gender division fed to children from early age, did not affect his curiosity to discover the world from all sides and all ends.

In middle school he built his bubble in a corner in the classroom, spending four full years with the same people, five days of the week. Yet, when asked to mention what they know of him, nobody could give an accurate description, some even admitted to know nothing about their silent classmate. Teachers were equally puzzled at his silence. Whenever asked a question, he had the answer, yet he made it a goal to remain as invisible as possible.

He remembered the vacations during those years, going back home to Egypt and meeting his old friends from his school there where he spent one year only. He remembered their faces, seeing him wearing baggy trousers, bracelets with skulls on it and long Afro hair. He remembered how they never contacted him again.

Despite all that, he built a reputation for being an excellent shot when it came to sticking empty ink cartridges onto the classroom ceiling for decoration. As well as being a champion in dodgeball. He remember one time reaching the point where all his team mates were caught on the opposing team, and being the last one standing, he managed to dodge all attempts at hitting him, until he finally managed to catch the ball and started freeing his team one by one, eventually turning the entire game around. They all cheered his name. The only moment when everybody knew him.

Yet his silence was never broken.

He remembered how one day he gathered all his courage to confess to his crush his feelings. His heart was pounding. His blood rushing so fast, he imagined it would start dropping out of his fingertips soon. But her answer, after more than 2 years of sharing the same class together, left him bewildered and speechless.

“I don’t really know you. Maybe it’s best if we stayed friends” she said.

At that moment he knew he had to do change something in his life. But it was too late to do that there. He had to wait for the next family move. The next country. The next school. The next friends.

The chance for change came to him when his family moved back to Cairo, Egypt and he started attending High School at the French International School in Maadi.

He let his mind loose, and released himself from any restrictions.

He socialized, he made friends, he built a circle of close friends who remained until today the ones he truly felt connected to.

His “special traits” as a person never disappeared. He simply found a place where he felt he belonged.

This liberating joy of feeling that he belongs continued in his University years, where he finally had his first taste of romance. Despite its failure, he at least knew now what it meant to be in a relationship.

But as time passed, something gradually felt out of place.

His curiosity from childhood had developed into a more intellectual one, leading him to search for knowledge further than what was given to him in his education and at home.

Eventually he reached a point where he questioned all that was around him. He lost his faith in tradition and religion and began to see the world in an entirely different light than the people he loved did.

He slowly felt alienated and judged.

It was this feeling of being a stranger in his own home that forced him to decide to leave as soon as he got the chance. To try to find a new home, a place where he would no longer be a stranger. A place where he could belong. So he started his journey to the one place he believed accepted people of all creeds and mindsets, Europe.

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