Leyla Khalouni. The wildflower

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Egyptian countryside

Sometimes you travel to see things, sometimes you travel to find answers, sometimes you travel know people. And sometimes you travel to strangers’ house to learn most about Egyptian cuisine, to sit in their backyard, watch pigeons flying in and out and to invent a character. This time it was a girl, named Leyla Khaloini.

She was born into a family of farmers. Men in her family were strong and kind, women strong and timid. Proper. She was every other Khalouni and remarkably different at the same time. She was made out of fire and ice, her hair curled in every possible direction, her voice was a pinch louder, her hair an inch higher, her eyes a mm larger. Everything about her took up more space than others in her family. Her father’s face shadowed each time Leyla would pass by him, too much air his daughter moved. “Not good for a girl”, he thought. Since recently Leyla entered a university in Cairo and lived a life that was so strange to him. She spoke English as her mother tongue, worked for Americans and befriended foreigners. She still wore her hijab and followed the ways, but each time something about her was changing he sensed. He couldn’t quite grasp it, may be it was the way she laughed, too loudly, may be the fact that she was too knowledgable about politics or displayed her affection in public. Nevertheless her father was worried.

So was Leyla, she returned home each weekend. To seek sanctuary at her parents’ , to eat her mother’s food and to play with her kittens. She still spent most of time outdoors, in her yard, reading on a hammock. But noticed how neighbours look more judgemental than before and how her mother kept looking more tired after time.

Leyla still loved her father’s orange plantation, her uncle’s foulukka and her small cousins coming over each eveining to watch the TV with them. But something about her was expanding. She was growing weary trying to be something she not longer was.

She was growing weary trying to figure out who she is in this new life and what she wants to do. So she did what she did best, sang and laughed . Moving the air. Again.

 

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