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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Niam el Baz, Cairo, Egypt

27.5.94 Friday

Niam is a big woman. Stood up to greet us in sandals on thin heals, and immediately sat down, freed herself from the sandals and touched the floor with her bare feet, taking pleasure.

Niam:

When I was born there were already two sons, and a daughter. My parents wanted another daughter, so my sister had a friend - so when I came, my mother and
father were very glad. But my grandfather was very unhappy, so my father said, "Girls are Niam, the good things that Allah sends us. I will call this girl Niam."

I come from the delta, near the forking of the Nile, in the north, so I love the Nile very much. I've put it in my eye. We are not peasants, but in my childhood I was
simply glued to a family of peasants there. I look for the peasant's bread everywhere and I can't find it.

I used to go down and play with the children of the peasants who worked for us. My parents didn't want me to play with them, they would pull me by the hand like this
back home. I would take off my shoes and walk barefooted.
Until now, everywhere, if I'm around plants and grass, right away I take off my shoes. I can feel belonging only if I'm walking barefoot on the ground.

I really loved playing with their children. So much so that if they were having a joint meal, because they are poor there so each would bring with him to work some pita and onion, I would bring a plate full of rice and vegetables and meat and share with them. I would gather them around me and tell them what I had seen in the
cinema, it is a very distant thing for peasants' kids.
We would wash every day. Not like the peasants' children, who would maybe go down to the Nile every now and then.

Not because of the mother's neglect, it's just that the mother would go out to work in the field.

The children in the village itself would wash before holidays, one after the other, in the public baths, pour some water and a little soap. I would say to my mum, You
wash me, it takes you an hour, and there -- hundreds of children are being washed in an hour.

I want to ask you if you have any stories from childhood, something special like that.

I like listening to yours.
Atidaal: (to Niam) Let her enjoy your stories.
Niam:
It interests me very much. About Romania. When you were a girl, did they ask you whether to come to Israel or not?
OK. I have a memory that I am three years old --
Niam:
These are the signs of writers. Not everybody can remember.