College 10 years back
There they were, a new class studying architecture in college, they were very shiny young people who were full of energy and life. I envied them a bit but I liked them a lot, I got to be friends with many of them later on. There were 2 girls however that always hung out together who were just wonderful to observe. Both had very curly hair, one was blond and the other had dark hair. The one with the dark hair was named Ruba. I've always liked to see them walking around smiling most of the time. I took a class with her brother Ahmad, somewhat the class comedian, always joking around and always up to mischief.
There was something bright about their whole group and whenever I would hear a friend of mine talking about these girls it would put a smile on my face.
A few days back
I called Alaa Al Aswany for an interview I had to do with him. I tried calling him all day but he didn't pick up. At 12 midnight he calls me back. I ask him if he's willing to do the interview and he says he will, but he has something else on his mind. He asked me if I knew about the building in Alexandria that fell down. I did know. Well, he said:
I'm a little preoccupied, I wasn't able to answer earlier because a friend of mine had his whole family in that building, and the building collapsed over them. The city didn't bring in the dogs that can find people till 8 hours after the building collapsed.
Isn't life a bitch we both complained. Since when was anyone treated here in a half decent human manner. Why do they allow people to build things this way, can't they put a little more effort in anything they do.
I get a call, it's Alaa Al Aswany, I answer, it's not him on the phone. The man on the other end tells me that he has to reschedule because of the situation in Alexandria, Dr. Alaa's friend lost all his family. My condolences.
I'm in a meeting, I get back to my desk to find a message from Nader on MSN. He's left a message saying "Do you know Ahmad .. from college?"
I get a phone call from Nader, again he asks, "Do you know Ahmad from college?"
I say yes.
"Did you hear about the building that fell in Loran, Alexandria?"
I say yes.
"Well Ahmad lost his mother, his father, his grandfather and his sister, they were all in the building when it collapsed."
Stunned, I asked "Ahmad's sister Ruba?"
"Yes," he said, "Ruba's dead."
There was something shocking about this. I've known this very sweet girl from afar and I really had some warm feelings towards her. I felt so much liveliness in her. I didn't know her personally, but I always felt she was kind. I didn't really believe it when I heard it. Not that people don't die, but it was just surreal. I knew him and to imagine this happening to someone is hard enough, but to someone you know is really difficult specially that the person they lost is also someone you know. It's just very sad.
I'm filled with sad sedation, and I don't have the energy to be angry at someone who has cost so many people their lives. Someone who has cost a beautiful girl like Ruba her life. I went through the papers and what I read about finding her made me sick. She was 24.
Does it matter at all how many people die? We're killing us. Everyone trying to live irrespective of other is killing our brothers and our sisters and his brothers and his sisters. We're killing each other, and burying each other alive.
Ruba was a wonderful girl. I wish I'd known her more… but I don't know if I really wish for that. A lovely girl died at 24, someone I used to smile when I saw, someone who doesn't even know who I am. Now she just doesn't exist in this world anymore. Her brother, someone I know well, don't think he'll be the same again, don't know what he's going through and can't even pretend that I can guess.
Wish I had something more to say, but all I feel is a certain kind of loss. Sorrow runs through my body sedating it.
I don't know her, but she was a friend's cousin. SEVEN people from that same family passed away in that building, and families of many more. I was in Loran a couple of days ago and unfortunately I got to see the ruins. It is a shame that people's lives go to waste out of other people's carelessness and negligence. It is immensely frustrating!
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