I travelled to Nuweibaa not too long ago with a group of friends.
Some of them were going just to swim.
Honestly, I didn’t go for the same reason.
I didn’t want to get into the water at all.
I just went for walks on the beach.
A friend of mine tried to convince me to go for a swim.
He told me the water was great.
I kept telling them that I couldn’t swim.
“We’ll teach you,” they said.
“The water is great.”
I eventually gave in.
The water started getting colder,
I tried to swim on my back,
While a friend was holding me.
When I started moving my legs,
He thought I had begun swimming,
So he let go of me.
I almost drowned,
My arms started flailing about.
I panicked and started screaming,
Then got out of the water,
While gasping for air and shivering.
I couldn’t breathe.
I kept shivering for almost two hours,
When I got back to the hotel,
And got under a blanket.
I remembered how much I hated the sea, resorts, and Alexandria.
The last time I went to a beach resort,
Was when I was 11 years old.
My father had just gotten back from Saudi Arabia,
And he suddenly decided that we–my mother and I–
Would go to Alexandria,
Stay with his cousins,
And attend his cousin’s wedding.
Then one day, baba decided to go to the beach.
I think we went to Camp Caesar Beach.
I got into the water,
Like any normal kid.
I wasn’t afraid of the water the way I am now.
I was trying to teach myself how to swim,
Then I decided to go in a little deeper.
A few meters away,
Was a man as old as my father.
He was staring at me;
A big, weird smile on his face.
Whenever I’d look in his direction,
I’d find him staring at me.
I noticed that he was also saying something.
I couldn’t hear what it was.
All I heard was,
“Come. Come. Come.”
I didn’t know what he wanted from me,
But I felt that something wasn’t right.
I pretended not to see him.
I searched for my dad in the water.
He was there,
But a little farther away.
He couldn’t see me.
When I glanced at my left,
I found the man coming towards me.
And decided to run as fast as I could.
I was stepping on rocks,
And slipped on one.
I was hurt,
And fell in the water.
My head was suddenly underwater.
It hit a rock.
I couldn’t breathe.
I was surrounded by water.
I was frightened.
Water got into my ears,
And I couldn’t get out.
People eventually got me out of the water.
I cried and screamed.
Mama was sitting on the beach,
When I went to her all frantic and in tears.
She was startled.
She thought baba had hit me.
“Why didn’t you keep an eye on her?!” she yelled.
He started yelling too,
And cursed me and my mother,
“Life with you is hell!
I stopped trying to swim since that day.
I’m afraid of the water now.