Muslim Matrimonials and More's Egyptian Tales: stories of life in Egypt

March 10, 2004

Bats of the Nile

by Shaden Mohamed

The streets of Cairo light up every night in a magnificent display of grandeur. While on my annual visit to Egypt in December, I was lucky enough to experience the holy month of Ramadan. The streets were lit up in celebration night after night. People crowded the streets after Iftar, happily talking and entertaining themselves despite the winter chill.

Egyptian fruitbat
An Egyptian Fruitbat

On one of those nights, my cousins and I decided to go for coffee at the Hilton hotel, located along the Nile. My cousin Gaydah is 22, and has an enthusiasm and excitement for everything she does. My other cousin Ahmed, on the other hand, is 25 and very stern and always has a sensible approach to things. The two are quite the opposite and outings with them always end up looking like a theatrical comedy.

The three of us decided to walk to the hotel, and enjoy the view of the Nile. Anyone who is familiar with the area will know all about the hanging vines and trees that line the walkways. These beautiful trees are home to birds by day, and bats by night.

While walking we stopped at the sound of a tree rustling and looked up to see a bat hanging from the branch. Gaydah and I were pointing at it in curiosity and delight, while Ahmed urged us to move away from the "ugly creature."

Suddenly, without warning, Gaydah started to squeal - bat droppings had landed on her head! She started to panic, and told me to wipe it off. Not having a tissue handy, and disgusted by the mere sight of bat dung in her hair, I refused. Besides, I had studied bats while in high school and I was well aware that viruses such as rabies were transmitted through bat urine. When Gaydah insisted I help her, I told her that I was not going to touch anything like that with my bare hands, let alone anything diseased! Ghaydah started to scream at the thought that it might be diseased, and attempted to use my hand as a shovel. I pulled away from her and ran. I too began screaming and running away when I realised that Gaydah was chasing me.

My cousin Ahmed, who stood amused until now, was horrified at the sight of us running and screaming like immature children.

He began to chase us yelling, "Mosh fel sha'rah!" (don't scream in the street).

So here we were - two young girls were running and screaming, being chased by a young man. It didn't look good, and sure enough a car stopped to "help" the two girls who were being chased. Ahmed spent almost half an hour trying to explain the fiasco, and after many apologies for our behaviour, the car drove away convinced that Ghaydah and I were in no immediate danger. As for Ahmed, well let's just say he won’t be joining us for a stroll along the Nile anytime soon.

Shaden Mohamed is 22 years old. Of Egyptian background, she was born and bred in Sydney where she attained a degree in Media & Communications. As an accomplished writer, Shaden has a passion for educating and informing others in her community on the beauty of her culture. "My dream is to inspire people with my writing because I believe that literature is the most beautiful form of expression."

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