Male Species

“Don’t react to anything you hear.
Just keep walking.”
“Don’t talk back, no matter what.
Walk away.”
“No one knows what he could do to you.”
That’s what we’re told.
We’re told to obey.
If someone insults me,
I should just walk away.
That way he’ll keep doing what he does.

I’ll tell you the story of the “veil.”
It wasn’t just one veil, actually.
There were several.

My sister and I had just left the bank on Monday, 30th of June, 2012 at 11 a.m.
We were on a big main road, near our house.
A 5 minute walk away.
We bought some bread,
And headed towards the sidewalk.
Out of nowhere,
A man selling newspapers started approaching us,
Saying disgusting things.
He was headed towards us,
So my sister and I started backing away.

“You better behave yourself, or else…”
I started.
“Behave myself?!”
He got angry,
Grabbed a bucket,
Filled it with filthy water,
And threw it at us.
As I was taking a couple of steps back,
He threw the whole bucket at us.
He had scars all over his face,
And he looked like an addict,
But I somehow managed to hurt his fragile ego,
By telling him to behave himself.
Perhaps I should’ve cursed him and his parents.
Maybe that would’ve made him feel more comfortable.

I was in a state of shock when he threw the water.
My sister kept telling me to walk away,
And tried to pull me away.
As I was heading back toward him,
He threw the bucket at me again while saying,
“Keep walking!”
He was cursing non-stop.
I was completely drenched,
As if I had jumped into the river.
I screamed and shouted at him.
He picked up a thick plastic bucket,
And aimed for my head.

There were crowds of people gathered around.
There were many men gathered around.
Nominal men.
One of them pulled me away,
Because I was kicking the man.
I picked up the bucket,
And threw it at him.
Since the bucket didn’t do anything,
He picked up an umbrella,
And tried to hit me with its metal stick.
I was defending myself,
While everyone was standing around, watching.
Some of them didn’t do anything but try to pull me away,
So I would leave.

I was not going to let him go.
I made up my mind to take him to the police station.
He wanted us to leave.
“What do you want?!” he kept asking.
Poor thing.
There were two military officers standing amongst the crowd of men.
They watched me get beaten up,
Until my eyes and head were bruised.
They watched me fight and yell at the people,
“Someone catch him!
I want to take him to the police station!”
“Why are you standing like that?!
Are there no real men here?!”
During those moments,
Which felt like hours,
Everyone just stared.
They stared in a way I’d never seen before.

He ran off to a neighboring street,
Probably to find something else to hit me with.
The crowd was huddled on one side, watching from afar,
“What’s he getting?” they asked.
I ran after him.
He came back with a long metal stick,
And headed towards me.
I kept standing where I was.
I was waiting to see what he would do.
I was ready.
He looked at me,
Dropped everything in his hands,
Took out a pocket knife,
And cut his own hand.
He slashed his palm from the middle,
Tied it up,
And cried,
“She cut me!
She cursed me and cursed my mother!”

He said that as he was walking down the street.
I tried to grab him by his shirt,
And tried to make the people catch him.
I wanted to take him to the police station.
I screamed and shouted.
I did everything.
But all they did was stare.
It reminded me of an old film,
Where the murderer would calm down,
When people sang to him.

There’s only one male taxi driver who actually did anything.
One man among 15 other men.
He got out of the taxi when he saw what was happening.
“Help me catch him.
The police station is at the end of the street,”
He told the bystanders.
Someone grabbed the thug by his arm,
So the thug threw water at him.
“Why are you throwing water at me, man?
What did I do to you?” the man exclaimed,
Then let him go, and left.
He probably admired the thug,
But after this incident,
His feelings toward the thug changed.
I don’t know if there’s something in the water,
Or in the genes,
Or in the weather.

The thug ran after the taxi driver after he let him go.
What’s funny is that they were all running towards the police station,
But the man got away.
I was hysterical and screaming at everyone.
I couldn’t believe that chivalry no longer existed.
In the midst of all this,
A woman actually kissed my hand,
Begging me to leave,
Because I was defending myself and hitting him.
The men were doing like her.
If they had paid enough attention,
They would’ve realized that he was scared.
The men were trying to stop me from hitting him,
Not the other way around.
There’s something seriously wrong.
Do you think it’s because vegetables are loaded with pesticides?
It’s said that pesticides are harmful to men.

The people standing around were shuffling in their place,
To get a better view,
Of the film they were watching.
There were two military police officers among them.
They were standing together in a corner,
Like fraternal twins.

I was hitting him for self-defense,
And all I cared about was taking him to the police station.
How could no one understand what I was feeling?
“No man could ever do what you did,”
The taxi driver kept telling me while we were on our way.
What good is it hearing these things?
It’s sad.

I went to the newspaper stand guy,
Who had his back turned the whole time,
Or just watched what the thug was doing.
He didn’t even try to do or say anything.
“What’s the name of that asshole who was sitting here?” I asked.
“Hussein Ammonia,”
“Or Hussein Tysson.”
He’s known at the police station.

My sister and I got in a cab.
She was trying to make people catch him the whole time,
When she wasn’t standing in shock.
We got in with the brave cab driver.
It was walking distance to the Giza Police Station.
“You can’t file a report here,” they told me.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You can’t do it here.
You need to go to Al-Omraneya Police Station.”
I yelled at them, and left.

I went to Al-Omraneya Police Station.
“I want to report an incident.”
“You need to do a medical examination first,”
They informed me,
And give me a form to be filled out at the hospital.
I went to Al Haram Hospital,
But they refused to hand me the report,
Because there wasn’t an officer present.
I had to go back to the police station,
To find a police officer or detective to receive the report.
I went to the police station,
And finally filed the report.
Then I went to the hospital again,
To receive and photocopy the report.
There was a shooting incident,
And the hospital was full.
There were 14 dead bodies.
The families were at the hospital to claim the bodies.
That was just a glimpse of the lack of security.

I gave them my statement,
And told them the thug’s name.
“Oh, yeah.
That’s the guy who sits with what’s-his-name?
I’ll show you some pictures so you can identify him.”
They showed me the pictures,
And I identified him.
“He just got out of prison less than a month ago.
He’s under probation,” they told me.
“I know where he sits,” I said.
“Why hasn’t the case been taken to the prosecutor’s office?
I just saw him on my way here sitting on a curb,”
I asked them on the phone.
“It depends on the prosecutor’s mood,” was the answer I got.

I called a General.
“We were busy with a murder case yesterday,
So there was no one available to go get him,” he said.
It’s as if he were talking about getting a bag of chips.
“I’ll see what we can do after breakfast.
What time is he usually there?”
“I don’t know, sir.
I’m not watching him.”
“Can you see him from the balcony?”
“I didn’t try to spot him from the balcony.
I saw him sitting near my house,
While I was in a cab the following day.
He was looking at me very nonchalantly.”
“When does he sit there?
Is he sitting there right now?”
“Would you like me to go get him myself?
I said I’m not watching him.
I don’t know, sir.”

Anyone who hears what happened,
Before I tell them the whole thing,
Their first comment is usually,
“Why did you do that?
We said it’s best not to talk back,
Or do anything.”
Okay, sure,
I’ll listen to his disgusting words,
And stay silent.
And even if I talk back,
That would be the extent of it.
I won’t do anything else.
No matter what he does or says,
And even if he throws water at me,
I won’t say anything.
It’s fine.
So what if I get a little wet?
What’s the problem with that?
There were a lot of members of the male species standing around,
On a casual Ramadan morning,
And they were not affected at all.
I should be as nonchalant as they are.

“Did he touch you?” they ask.
“Then why did you talk back?
You should’ve walked away.”
They might as well have told me to thank him.
Thank you for harassing me today.
Goodbye, Mr. Thug.

I had to call an officer I knew,
Because nothing else worked.
I’m hoping he could arrest him.
Looks like everyone needs to use violence to get things done nowadays.

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