June 14, 2009

That Train!

A month ago I went to Assuit to attend my cousin’s wedding. Assuit is a beautiful city in Upper Egypt; it takes almost a 6 hours train trip to get there. The wedding was nice, I didn’t stay long enough to enjoy the city but what I have seen was enough to make me want to get back sometime.

And as all the good things in life, the nice trip to Assuit has to come to an end. When we arrived to the train station we found our train moving. It wasn’t supposed to depart until another 30 minutes, but people started saying that there was an unannounced change in the train schedule. And that was when my uncle, my dad and my brother started running to get aboard the moving train.

My brother jumped into the train, my uncle followed and my decision was “I am not going to jump in”. The train was accelerating; I didn’t find the circumstances suitable. But here came the father who started yelling at me to jump aboard. He actually kept running holding the train as if he would magically stop it while yelling at me to jump.
The image of my father ran over by the train was the only thing that made me take that step. He wasn’t going to jump in without me and he wanted to get into that train by any means. So, I jumped aboard an accelerating train. I took an unnecessary risk because my father wanted me to do.

I did the thing he believed is right, though I still believe that it is wrong. I did the thing he thought is for my benefit just because I was too scared he would kill himself trying to put me on that train.

Ironically after we jumped aboard the train stopped. It was a sort of silly joke.

But the point is my father didn’t want me to miss the train, as if that train is my only ride to paradise. In the time there was going to be no harm to leave me behind. I had enough money, I had my cell-phone and I wasn’t in a strange city. My aunt lives there, actually 15 minutes away from the station and another uncle was staying the night there and was heading back to Cairo next morning. There was no harm leaving me behind and the destination of that train wasn’t paradise.

Yet my dad, yelled at me to jump aboard an accelerating train. He made me take a risk that I wouldn’t take just because he believed my benefit is to be on that train.

I don’t know why this train incident would sum up how “parents” in this part of the world affect their children’s lives. That train represents the opportunity. My decision to pass and my dad’s decision to jump in represent the conflict of interest between the best our parents want for us and the best we believe in. I believe that missing that train would have been an exciting experience. I would have seen new things. I would have had a mini-adventure. The risk wasn’t high and I am not a school girl who won’t know how to get back home. Actually the risk of falling off the moving train was higher than the risks borne to staying the night in a strange city.

My point is, missing an opportunity might be an opportunity. It is not the end of the world. And no one should know what’s best for you but yourself. No one has the right to corner anyone into doing anything because they believe it is the right thing to be done. There is nothing “right” in this world. And if there is anything that has to be right, it will always be the things your parents taught you while not influenced by adrenaline!
Later, he admitted it was wrong to push me to jump aboard that train. It just seems that he was the one who couldn’t take the risk of leaving me behind. But this is the point. He spent all his life preparing me for the moment he will leave me behind. He spent all his life teaching me the risks of trying to catch a departing train. He was the one who taught me to see the opportunity in missing the train. He brought me up on appreciating what I have in hand. But in a glance, he lost faith in me.
A thing that makes me wonder if that faith was ever there. Or if love would make us unintentionally hurt our loved ones.
Or do we intentionally hurt them to push them to do what we believe is right?!


Bastawisi said...

you have a beautiful philosophical point of view, "wasting a chance is a chance sometimes"

B said...

Great post. And I like how you reflected on the incident.

I rarely comment on blog posts, but dealing with "parental" situations is something I have reflected on a lot lately and I would like to offer a different perspective.

First, I have to agree with you that the problem is certainly with "parents on this side of the world" and not anywhere else.

And I apologize beforehand if my comment will be off-topic but I guess it is interesting nevertheless.


There is a sort of Egyptian culture that the 'son'/'daughter' is considered an extension of the 'self'. Anecdotal evidence: I overheard a mother-daughter conversation once:
The mother addressing the daughter in a nervous tone: "Oh yes and do not please mention the past midterm exams - we have already lost a lot of marks"!!
I'll leave it to your analysis. I think you may have to dedicate another blog post discussing this. ;)

Anyway, this ultimately leads to a blurring of borders between the independent identity of the parent and the son/daughter.

When you apply this 'extension' theory .. and with years and years of "blurring", the parent starts gradually (and subconsciously) thinking for his son's good as if he thinks for his own!

Sorry for the long intro but let us now come to your situation.

He made me take a risk that I wouldn’t take just because he believed my benefit is to be on that train.

The obvious correction for this sentence is:
He made me take a risk that I wouldn’t take just because he believed his benefit is to be on that train.

I guess your dad knows that you might have been hurt/died with that jump.

But given my above 'son is myself theory' .. the parent (under the least stressful condition) switches to thinking for his own benefit .. confusing it with his son's benefit (of course owing to years of "my son is my extension -> myself")

And hence neglecting the inherent risk of the jump (for you); just for saving (himself) the trouble of worrying about his son for one or two nights in a strange town (neglecting the fact the son/daughter is grown up already and can manage).

So in the speed of the moment, the subconscious -neglecting the obvious simplicity of the situation- takes over .. and decides he would prefer the psychological safety and peace of mind in seeing his offspring with him on board rather than spend two days of worrying over how his own can be lost/kidnapped/suffer in any way in a strange town - and the ghastly consequences of him living with self-guilt that he probably had the chance of him pulling his son aboard when he had the chance and saving him the consequences.

It just seems that he was the one who couldn’t take the risk of leaving me behind.
Does this make my explanation plausible? ;)

BTW I do not mean that parents are inherently evil :D but just that, in a Freudian subconscious way of thinking, and under stress- they come to think in terms of their own good and not their children. Again owing to our Egyptian culture and way of thinking when it comes to parents.


jessyz said...

Yes, sometimes we do the same exact thing to ourselves too.

gjoez said...

7elow awy awy awy el post ya Shimaa begad!

Very philosophical keda!

Made me think about many thinks..w ba3deen el 7etta elly fel a7'er i imagined enn Meredith was saying it like she does at the end of episodes
, fa it was kinda cool :D

w ba3deen el post fakkareny be Little Miss Sunshine :D

Shimaa Gamal said...

Thanks Bastawisi, I am flattered.
Welcome aboard :)

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello B
Firt your comment isn't off topic it is right into the point. And that mother you mentioned deserves more than just a post :) She represents the population of parents in this part of the world.

This mother, as my father and most of the parents I know, is trying to push her daughter towards what she thinks will make her happy and successful.
This mom forgets that along pushing her daughter towards what she thinks is success, she should prepare her too to what she thinks is failure.

If in my case the train was success and staying behind was failure. The duty of a parent to prepare his children to make use of both sitiuations. Because if I couldn't see the opportunity failure gives me, I will probably spend the rest of my life mourning the train I missed.

This can clearly be seen in "Thanwya Amma" exams in Egypt. Parents push their children to get the highest scores they can. And the result is that we have young men who feel like losers in the time they scored 98%. Because 98% isn't high enough to put them in medical school. The thing their parents have always dreamt of!

In 20 years, we'd find different feedback from those losers, some dramatically fail and the rest have brilliant careers that none of their parents anticipated.

But maybe this blind love is what we really need to take the risks we think we can never take. Because sometimes they are right about things. And most of the times we are so lucky to have this blind love ;)

Shimaa Gamal said...

I agree with you Jessy that we all do the same even if we aren't parents. But the question is, why not choosing to stay behind with those we love instead of trying to push them to do things our way?!

Shimaa Gamal said...

Gjoe, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Actually you contributed to that post when you wrote "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about!"
That was inspirational, along a really hot night with no AC that deprived me the right to sleep :))

So, should I take the "Meredith" like comment as a compliment or critisim ;) I know you hate grey's anatomy :))

LiL^OrioN said...

great post shimaa! and i totally agree.

i think the concept of parents pushing is the same worldwide. it's so rampant in singapore, that all parents only concentrate on making sure their kids get A's in school. but the funny thing is, the kids to learn to learn for life. they learn, only to pass exams.

i guess it's with the older generation people, where most decisions are made for parents, while generation X kids are more independent. not quite true for generation Y were most kids are spoon-fed, especially in money terms.

i guess it's at that split of that moment when you're panicking and your mind can't think straight and your first instinct is, "i don't wanna lose my kid!! i want my kid to be with me!"

i guess cos both him and your bro was alr on the train, which seems "safer", "going back together" towards the journey, he might not want you to be left behind. somehow or rather, i see it that, he loves you too much he can't bear to let you go? heeee.. i'm just trying to be positive. =)

LiL^OrioN said...

ohhh.. i din read your blind love portion. yeah yeah!! i agree!! =D

injis said...

Wow. That was very profound. I don't think it is lack of faith on his part, more force of habit, he spent your lifetime worrying about you, he just can't seem to stop, especially in an unexpected situation. Yet I loved the analogy of it all, pristine!

Om HAGAR said...

Hi ShoSho,

missed your posts. just to tell you I completly agree with you losing an opportunity is an opportunity.

just we should have mercy on our parents sometimes raw fear is the only thing behind doing something on the conterary of what they taught us all our lives.

but still it is wrong but the only reason is their love & being keen to get us the best in life.

don't blame your father a lot & pass by this situation.

you know what may be my opinion would be completly different before having my daughter Hagar in my life but after having her now I'm in the side of the parents & am giving all the excuses to our parents :)

sorry for commenting such a long comment but I enjoyed your post.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Haz
It is good to learn that it is a worldwide syndrome :) I thought only Egyptian/ Arab parents over protect their children.

I can understand how blind love would affect judgment. Because it was my blind love that made me jump in for him.

But the point is, maybe we should get past panic and think of the options. Not only in a child/ parent relation but in everything in life. Maybe happiness is else where.
And maybe our love is killing the chances our loved ones might have.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Well, Juka, maybe some less worrying would work best for both of us :)
But it seems that even in the expected sitiuations our parents can't let the gaurds down.
They take what they think is "our failures" personally. In the time we deserve the chance to try things our way. To live our dreams not theirs.
They are probably right, but we are not necessairly wrong.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Fayrooz
I love long comments :) so please leave me a long comment whenever you can.

I am not blaming my father on that incident. I don't blame him on anything. I can't blame him for being over protective because if he showed less protection I might feel neglected and blame him on that too :)

I am just wondering, why he had to push me on the train and never thought of staying behind with me. It was an option that he didn't consider. Though this too would have granted the "keeping my child safe" need.
But I think its a parent thing that I would never understand :))

injis said...

Yeah. I agree with you and can totally relate.

Your reply reminded me of lyrics to a song, not sure how musical you are, but dig up Mika's You Made Me.

"You see it black and I see it white.
You're never wrong and I'm always right."

:) That's parenting for you!

Shimaa Gamal said...

I loved the song :) this is so going to be shared on facebook ;)

As for the black and white thing ... sometimes I feel that this is how things are going between me and the rest of the world :) They are never wrong but I am always right!
Exhausting ...

shimaa gamal said...

hi shimaa ,i found ur blog by chance while searching 4 my name at google lool and i found it amazing especially the part "missing an opportunity might be an opportunity" it touch my heart coz i been into that situation wiz my mum, she pushed me to work at the government as she did but i hate it and i quit the job only after 2 months, she blamed me and still do, i hate her 4 that coz she doesn't wanna see what i see 4 my self and my choices, she only believe in her self, she must know that time changes ,i cant imagine how a person can be such unflixable ..
these kind of people u must avoid while u leaving ur life specially when making major choices coz they will only trapped u in their beliefs but u must stand again and continue through.."how a hole can be a portal!"by me lol
good luck 4 all

Noly said...

Shi ya Shi :)
I miss you 2awyyyyyyyyyyy ya gamila :) walahy w missed 2wy reading and folowing- up again with your posts :)
Thanks alot for your care and love for asking about me when I was away :). I'm not in Egypt now but I will be back soon soon Isa :) I have alot to say...

m3lsh ana katabt kter a2wy bara el post bta3ek, bas enty 3rfa sa7betek raghaya w ba2aly kterrrrrr a2wyyyyyyy msh ktbt wla shoft haga leky :)

concering ba2a your post, I really liked v. much bgd ya Shi yemkn ba2aly kter not reading for anyone bas I noticed that this topic is just great :).
I really liked this part ( and as all the good things in life has to come to an end w kman missing an opportunity might be an opportunity, it's not the end of the owrld) bgd bgd so true.
yah ya Shi I truly missed reading and commenting on your posts :)

Take care ya a2mar w ISA I will try to be in touch as much as I can :)

Shimaa Gamal said...

I missed you so much, you made us worried. I kept searching for you and asked toob el ard 3alieky. Even gjoe was so worried about you. khalteena nedrab akhmas fi asdas
No one disappear this way!! Really you made me so worried about you.

I really miss you. And welcome back :)
Please don't disappear againnnn

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello "Me" :)
It is really nice to meet one of the other "Shimaa Gamal"s
I don't think we should avoid our parent's advices even if they are so different from our views.
I just believe to take whatever they say into consideration but never consider them orders.
Follow your dream :) and watch out of holes but even if the hole isn't a door, falling in one will always teach you something new :))

Keep coming back :)
Nice meeting you "Me" :))

Haz Izian said...

I see your point. =)

I guess that's what they call, 1st instict move, which at times is contradictory to what we have always believed in and preach. tee hee..

In any ways, just wanna send you a link to brighten up your day. I can't login into FB @ work. bleargh!


Shimaa Gamal said...

Rufi, I love you soo much *kisses*
Hope you are having a nice day

Ahmad Sabet said...

You reminded me of the TV ad that says take our low paying jobs lest you miss the train. They should have said "our train", why should I take your train instead of mine !. The train which they use to instill fear in us is actually headed to their hellish paradise of obedience and conformity, injustice and negative slavery.

Choose your ride and don't let anybody pick it for you.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Ahmed
Thanks for passing by. I am happy you reminded me with those ads. At first I thought the government was smart to try to reallocate resources. But later I found those ads are truely misleading.
As you said, it is their train, their benefit. Maybe it will fit for those who don't have a plan For those who are waiting aimlessly to whatever train to take them to whatever destination.

I will make sure to keep your advice in mind.

Ahmad Sabet said...

Do you have a destination Shimaa ?

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello again Ahmad
This is a really tough question. But I guess I still have a destination, even though I am starting to appericiate the road more than appericiating where it will lead.

Ahmad Sabet said...

Where are you heading

Shimaa Gamal said...

The future :) The home of my wildest dreams and deepest fears

Ahmad Sabet said...

It may seem that my wildest dream is my deepest fear but it's clear ..that my future starts today, back to reality :) what do you do for a living Shimaa.

Shimaa Gamal said...

take a shot :) guess :))

Ahmad Sabet said...

something creative?

Shimaa Gamal said...

:) Well, if you say so.
Actually, I am staying at home. I would have called the term unemployed yet I know I don't fit the defination :)
I can't say I don't have a job, but I can say I don't have a job that pays. Or maybe not a job that pays in the known ways :)
I can't say I don't have a job because whether it pays or not people live for something, they wake up everyday because they have to fulfill an obligation.
This obligation(s) is what's a job is all about, isn't it?

Ahmad Sabet said...

Well, in the current conditions of the world, staying at home would be the most sane choice. However most people have to endure the negative-slavery-system to earn a living. But what obligations, are you married ?

Shimaa Gamal said...

Most people think its insane :)
And I am not married.

Ahmad Sabet said...

if not for obligations, what are you living for

Shimaa Gamal said...

Many things, among them is a dream that I pray one day will come true.
What about you?

Ahmad Sabet said...


Shimaa Gamal said...

Interesting :)
May God grant you the great life you want

ibhog said...

Post more :)

Shimaa Gamal said...

Ibhog :)
I tried to reply to your comment with a new post but it seems that "ma 3ad 7adana kalam"

I can't find you on facebook, find me on gjoe's friends and add me :)
Maybe you could find a sign that I am not brain dead yet :)

Yet, I promise I will post more :)