{Floods v. Housemaids: Sudan is Unaware}

First featured in Muftah on Aug 27, 2012 

I’ve been washing dishes. Lots of dishes. It is my oasis from the hustle, the bustle and the noise.

And if there are no dirty dishes? I wash what’s in the dishwasher. None in there either? Well, I’ll purposefully find something dirty about those dishes in the cabinets. Add to that background music by the greats, such as Hassan Atteya? That’s a magnum opus of dish therapy.

With methodical strokes one’s mind can regain equilibrium, and mine has been teetering for plenty of reasons. Abrupt changes have left me breathless, and stunned by the ever growing void of silence in my and others’ conscience… #SudanRevolts. No longer the darling or the chic thing to be discussing, already I see profile pics have changed, support photos dwindling, the Twitter feed ebbing, and in general the topic has just waned.

The trolls that plagued Facebook, Twitter, and all Sudanese online forums I can almost hear cackling as they give each other sloppy high fives for dousing an ‘almost’ movement. And then you have the ones that were on the sidelines who were silent to begin with but now are coming out center stage claiming their one liners of ‘AHA. I told you so!’. So called specialist fops that disdainfully saw #SudanRevolts as nothing more than a wannabe Arab Spring are relieved they can continue calling themselves ‘experts’. Our elders release their tense sighs and exuberantly fix their gazes on a lost and apathetic generation. As for the creme de la creme of Khartoum, they continue to order their chilled mint lemonade and eat their French inspired pastries.

At this point I can call it a night, dry my hands and find solace in the consistent failure of Sudan. But here, the plot thickens, and that’s where my dishwashing almost becomes crazed.

Who or what is to blame for the dimming of Sudan’s movement? I remember at one point my mother telling me about a recent phone call she had with relatives back home.  I was expecting ‘the’ rant about the outrageous prices for everyday goods from water to electricity, but what I heard instead floored me. Do you know what is causing housewives to wring their hands rather painfully, and keeping them up late at night, pacing their bedrooms as their husbands look at them broodingly?

Jailed sons or daughters? No

Imminent evictions because they have failed to pay this month’s rent? Nope

Decisions about which wedding gold to sell in order to keep the house afloat? Na-Uh

Shortage of housemaids… what?

Ethiopian refugees, who had once flooded Sudan’s borders, are now leaving in major droves, looking for better prospects in the UAE or going back home to try and better their own homes. Their departure is not surprising. Sudan was not and is not the most hospitable of countries for immigrants, which begs the question – what can Sudan offer to outsiders given all it is unable to offer its own people?

Granted that this maid shortage is not a concern to all households, but I believe it is a concern that gives us perspective on Sudaneses’ daily worries.

While those in Nyala watch their homes crack and disintegrate in the floods with no hopes of any sort of relief, another is watching the dust pile up in alarm, heartbroken over the condition of the 7oosh (veranda) and distraught over the neglected china that hasn’t been polished in the last 48hrs.

This is the origin to the cracks of #SudanRevolts. The amount of disconnection between the different layers of society is outrageously mammoth!  How is a woman who’s major concern is that no other broad is wearing the same print of toub at a party going to relate to another lady just a block down who is panic-stricken about much needed medication she cannot afford? How can we ask Sudanese to care and participate in a movement when they can’t and won’t care for each other in general?

This movement will not flourish easily because the average Sudanese is barely keeping it together for himself, and doesn’t have the time or capacity to care for anyone since selfishness has become a necessity for survival. He is embroiled in constant turmoil of ‘to stay, or to go?‘ And what should have been his saving grace, his deen, Islam, has gotten so grotesquely altered that its left his soul bewildered. Thus he only gets a modest dosage of evil that he’s grown freakishly immune to, but sees the full evil assailing his country, and does… nothing.

The fabric of unity had long been frayed and torn before South Sudan sheared itself off the decayed fabric that is Sudan, and the likes of Darfur is hanging by the threads.

I tell you though, as I stare at my puckered fingertips through soapy water, I am haunted. How do we answer to all those men and women who were and continue to be arrested, abused, tortured in our names, for our sakes & for Sudan? What do I say to @simsimt, who has just been released? What can I say? What do you have to say?

I cannot speak for those that are in Sudan, but to you diaspora;

You all say, ‘I’ll go back when I am set and ready, when I have enough to finally give.’ But that makes sense to me as much as a doctor telling a dying patient wait for me so that I could learn more, suffer while I gain more. First it’s to get a better education, then it’s to gain more familiarity in the workforce, then masters,  then it’s I want my children to have the best education, then it’s I’ve gotten the promotion, I’ve found that house, I can finally afford that car, I have to pay off this mortgage, apply my kids to the top colleges, and what about my grandkids… and in these span of years you only visit back home every once in a while, your children natural-born expatriates, more and more of those you once knew dying off till you become nothing but a stranger, that distant relative that is more of an American, arrogant with his blue passport that you feel you owe nothing.

Whatever care you have in your hearts, extract and express it, because Sudan is unaware. Our unspoken devotions are not enough.

I promise you this. No longer will I be the spectator, the mute, the heartless. No matter the action, how small, how prevalent, I will do it in the spirit of #SudanRevolts. So long as am capable I will always write to remind you of Sudan.

I will always write to you, Sudan.