five minute friday: fly
We write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
I don’t think of flying when I hear the word: fly. I think of a fat fly, that landed sunny side up in my pita wrap.
This fly gave me my first eyeful of poverty and lack of sanitation and food, that a huge chunk of the world depend on.
But we bought this food, didn’t receive it from an NGO, didn’t scrounge through the garbage bins for it. So this food was in better shape than most.
I saw the sun bake cow pies on rooftops in this city, a city made of garbage. And I saw pita bread, the pita we ate nearly every day, bake in the same vicinity. It was the worst pita I’ve ever had, and to this day, I still resist pita eating.
It tasted like dirt, and air, really, like dirty air. We lived here for three months, in Garbage City, in this bustling, bursting city in Egypt. Cairo, often romanticized for the pyramids (that reside in Giza) or the museums, the Nile, the spices and markets, now has a smudge across it’s name.
But before all that, we lived there and ate street food. This fly, a big juicy sucker with iridescent saucer eyes, and thick, tangled wings, was pushed into the hummus, pushed down deep. After a few bites, I took a look at what I was eating and noticed him there, fully intact, thank you Lord.
I was done lunch for the day. I had the luxury of throwing out my food, and filling up with biscuits and tea, pomegranates and thick yogurt, in our home up the hill. Many did not have this luxury, and still don’t. They survive off of garbage picking and sorting. The city is divided into blocks. Families, for generations, sort through the same types of garbage. Food scraps, metals, plastics, paper. They sort, and they recycle, and sometimes they might come across a gem, like a watch or new piece of clothing, something they can sell and feed their family with.
And through the mud and mire, they smile. They whoop and holler and do the mundane. Muslim and Coptic Christian, violence and peace erupting here and there.
Outside our door, the hum of the Coptics praying, waving vessels of frankincense, filling the trash laced air with an earthy sweetness, with a holy scent, a covering.
And through the mud and mire, they worship. They welcome new babies, celebrate marriages, bury their beloveds, protest for their freedom.
In the muck and stink, they smile.