Cairo: I usually get anxiety when I have to do something, but this time I’m feeling so nervous that I try looking for an escape so that I do not have to face my teacher and friend, Ibrahim Abdelmeguid, and interview him.
It should be easy because of our close relationship over the years, during which we went through a lot, but instead, I find it hard and frightening.
Particularly, one day comes to mind when he led the procession on the ‘Day of Great Anger’ while we were unarmed in the face of the armed soldiers.
We were dreaming and full of hope back then.
We often meet up. Every time he decides to leave his distant house and go to the city centre that we love, his wife, who is my best friend, calls me to join them.
“Your uncle asked me to call and invite you,” she says.
He is “my uncle” as I like to call him. He has been by my side since the moment I stood before him while my friend was pulling me up by the hand to help me overcome my shyness and present my novel to him.
On that day, he sat down with us as if he were one of us. He immersed us into a sea of stories and laughter, and we discovered that the great writer had another side to his personality.
It is this personal side that makes him a father, an uncle, or a friend. As time passed, he never stopped helping me and others. He introduced me to his wife, and she became very dear and close to my heart.
There in his house, while he was sitting on his favourite sofa, I sat in his office and put on my interviewer hat.
He put me at ease and made sure I had my coffee before we started. Then, he turned off his laptop, from which music was playing, as usual.
I asked him:
You wrote a few days ago: “I made my night for art, music, and fun, but my day is for misery.”
Why is your day miserable when it begins with the music that you listen to throughout the day as a backdrop to your whole life?
It does not take him long to answer.
From the moment in 1969 when Anis Mansour announced his “musical programme” on the radio, I decided to listen to him. That was the beginning.
I knew Hussein Fawzy's “Sindibad Misri” programme, which dedicated an hour to classical music.
From that time on, that music has stayed with me, especially when I write at night. It is my companion, and without it, I would not forget what I see of life’s struggles and problems during the day.
I remember that, a while ago, I wrote an article entitled “Come with Me to Music to Forget Politics”.
Although I participated in politics and joined one of the parties in my earlier days, it all ends at night, as if I were another person washed away by music, so I forget the events of the day and get creative.
Without music, I would not have written anything.
If music is his first love, then cinema is no less important. Abdelmeguid recounts the day he sold his school textbooks to watch a movie in the cinema.
He wrote a book entitled Me and the Cinema — a history of Egyptian cinema, as well as a history of the political and social situation in the country.
What if your life was a movie that you directed? What would you do in this movie, and what would you delete and what would you add? What is the main scene?
My feelings now differ from what they were in my youth.
The loss of many people dear to me, together with social development in Egypt and the economic crisis all left their imprint on me.