Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – LXVI. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Death (4 of 6)

Wedding bells rang in our building when the daughter of our landlady, Sophie, got married. To her (the landlady) family was added a very special young man, a real gentleman. I do not recall his name, so I’ll call him Guergis (Georges in English).

Guergis was employed in a store as a salesman; however, he was aiming higher, he wanted to have his own business. Therefore, in time, Sophie and Guergis opened their own fabric store. They met with Nessim a few times to get his advice. I also remember going one day with my father to visit the store. Again they asked for his input and he freely and generously provided it. What I personally remember from this visit was how supremely happy and hopeful this young couple was. But there was a demon lurking in a dark corner.

What happened next was totally unexpected, a tragic turn of events that nobody could have foreseen for a young man in his twenties.

One morning we (in our household) became aware of unusual activity in the building in the wee hours of the night. Nessim went to inquire and came back with terrible news.

During the night, Guergis woke up with a terrible headache. An ambulance was summoned and he was taken to the hospital. The tentative diagnosis of the doctors was a cerebral hemorrhage; and they were not optimistic. Indeed, by the morning he expired.

It was, needless to say, a terrible blow to his immediate family; and for a long time the people in the building were unable to come to terms with this tragedy. He was such a good person and, therefore, countless times, the expression: “The good die young,” was cited.

After the funeral, a tent was erected on the street. It was customary back then in Egypt, for Muslims and Christians, to have a big tent (approximately the length of 2 large buildings, and one floor high) erected in honor of the deceased. In the tent were placed red carpets, chairs, and small tables. Coffee, tea, and refreshments were served by the family members and/or suffragis (waiters). To pay your condolences you went in the tent where you would usually find at least one member of the family. You did not come and leave immediately; you sat for a while and talked with the family and other visitors; the discussion usually centered around the virtues of the deceased. (We are all virtuous after we die!).

Putting up such a tent required special permission; it was usually granted since respect for the dead was an important cultural aspect of Egyptian society. The tent blocked the street and traffic had to be rerouted. Therefore, it could not be placed on a main artery; and at any rate, could not be left there for long.

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