My wife has just bought me two suits, three ties, one shirt and a brand new bread knife. It was Xmas and Eid all thrown in together. I dressed from head to toe in new clothes. The last time I looked that good was right before the 1967 war,when schools issued us military fatigues and army shoes, and all of us 15-year-olds looked really tough as we assembled and reassembled ten-cartridge Lee Enfield rifles in the school yard.
I took the bread knife in my hand and thought of crawling, combat style, under the kitchen table, but the maid was already busy preparing our brie and smoked salmon Friday brunch. So I postponed my military drills to a more private time.
The thrill of a new outfit didn’t last long. It was upstaged by the news of the combined victory of the National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections, following a protracted battle in which dozens were injured in polling centers around the country.
Look at the dedication, I told myself. Look at your compatriots giving your children a better future, where all you can think of is staying at home, with a bread knife between your teeth, crawling under tables and practicing all the right moves in case of a UN sanctioned invasion.
One gets nostalgic for the times of glory, of self-sacrifice and food rationing, of windows painted in blue and children saluting the flag with solemn zeal. One gets nostalgic for the all-clear sirens and the military marches on the radio and the mixed news from the front. One gets nostalgic for the crackling static on the once hostile BBC radio. My shoes are shining, my twice-daily cleaned windows are shining and the future is shining. The only turmoil I can think of happens in faraway places, like the Sunni triangle and Alexandria.
The knife and chain battles that took place during the election campaign reassured me somewhat. Who said the public was apathetic about political debate? The public has brought along kitchen knives and disassembled bicycle parts to the polling stations to make itself heard. The public has assaulted the judges supervising the elections and in one case took the see-through ballot boxes and threw them in the river, so that the bouri and bulti fishes may have a closer look at the proceedings. This was the first election in history where even the fish had a taste of democracy. If you ask me,we should do it again. But this time, we should throw all the boxes in the river and force the candidates to fight a life and death battle for the seats.
We don’t want a weak government to rule us, do we? We need a tough and fit government that can stand up to foreign pressure and the naysayers of feminism, secularism and fun in general. And what government is more qualified to do that than one of NDP and MB pedigree? The two parties, one as legal as it gets and the other as illegal as it gets, have a lot in common. Both come from a military background. Both are set in their ways. Both are torn between their aging leaders and a younger and savvier generation. Both are viewed with suspicion at home and abroad. And both can put up a good street battle – although I am told the MB is better with knives whereas the NDP is dazzling with a truncheon. We’re in good hands, slightly bloody, but good. My nostalgia is abating.
I don’t have a voting card. I wanted to vote but all this democratization stuff happened so fast I couldn’t get my act together. I would’ve participated had I gotten the bread knife a bit earlier. You don’t just buy a knife and run to the polling station. You need to practice in advance. My backhand slice with a tennis racket is famous from Cape Town to Luxembourg, but with a knife it’s different. The action is in the body language. You have to look threatening and borderline psychotic to be taken seriously. I need a few days to train in front of my Chippendale fulllength art nouveau mirror.
I don’t have a voting card, but give me two weeks of practice and I’ll be ready to eliminate quite a few legal voters. Better still, I could scare a judge or two. It’s my fault, I admit it. I spend too much time color-coordinating my scarves, instead of being a man with absolutely no style and no fear, commanding a macho presence at the polling center. I could’ve made the night news.
I could’ve made the criminal list now being compiled by civil society watchdogs. I could be a thug, you know. Just give me sometime to practice!