Interview with Bitaah from The Ankhs Series, Books 1 and 2. Red Marks the Child, and Fire Bird by Amira Awaad.

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Much love to Katrina Hart, Author of Finding Destiny for hosting this character interview from The Ankhs: Red Marks the Child and The Ankhs: Fire Bird.

Everyone…. meet Bitaah.

Katrina Marie

Interview with Bitaah from The Ankhs Series, Books 1 and 2. Red Marks the Child, and Fire Bird by Amira Awaad.

Welcome Bitaah and a huge thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Thank you for hosting me, you look really lovely, tonight.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you are doing right now?

Well, I’m partially a Djinn and I’m sure that can sound a little awkward to your readers. I mean, how is anyone partially a Djinn. It’s almost like saying ‘I’m partially pregnant’. *Laughs* But the truth is that I was born a Djinn, and at my initiation when I came of age, I pledged myself to the protection of those weaker than us, Mankind specifically, and so, rather than receive my full ability of magic, I was limited to having domain over the elements and my Djinn strength, only.

These days, I…

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An Unexpected Joy

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Tonight I met three gentlemen who reminded me what it is to be selfless. 

 

I’d like to tell you a story.  Close your eyes…

Visualize exactly where you are in the world, as you read this, now float up….straight up. Keep going, rise above the daylight clouds and the night-time shade. Light as a feather, and without the weight of gravity, rise into the universe and then turn around and look at the Earth.

Spin the globe around until you are staring down at Africa. Fix your eyes North East. There she is: Egypt. Go there.

Come closer, down through the sky, feel the Earth draw you near…. Cairo….New Cairo….the 5th Settlement…. the Souedi Supermarket, right beside “On the Run”. Now hang a right and walk for 47 seconds. You’re there. You’ve arrived. This is where our journey begins. This is where my faith in humanity was restored at 6:15 p.m.

Ask a woman in love “what is the worth of a diamond ring?” 

Ask a poor man “what is the worth of a pot of food?”

Ask me… what is the worth of my father’s smile?

All may answer: It is everything.

My father knew my mother since she was a little girl running around and causing mischief. In their teenage years, he fell in love with her and knew that one day, he would win her heart and make her his wife.

Well, they did marry. They had two stunningly brilliant girls (bats her eyelashes). And then a little over 2 years ago, my mother passed. If you ever knew my mother, then you would have seen the sparkle in her eyes, the laughter on her lips, and the wild, untamed, unbridled, ferocity in her soul. She was the embodiment of Strength and Love (sprinkled with a delicious sense of humor).

My parents designed the house we live in, and they started with one single room: the kitchen. Every doorknob, every stenciled ceiling, every stone served the imagined dream they conjured into a reality.

Needless to say: much was lost a little over two years ago…. and the wear and tear of cooking and cleaning took a toll on my mother’s duel-tub kitchen sink. This is where my story begins…… the sink.

You know that little tray that fits into the drain pipe so the bits of food and such don’t clog the drainpipe? They broke (both of them). This happened a few months ago and I have, since then, been trying to find that one little part of the sink, everywhere. Meanwhile, my father’s heart tugs at the smallest things that my mother, so fondly, picked out years ago.

I called up every one of my contacts who might remotely know where I could purchase it. Nothing. I looked up websites. I drove by stores. I tried to reach distributors. Nothing. What did I have to do to replace these broken drain filter tray thingies?

This afternoon, I chanced upon a website of a store located minutes from where I lived, and scrolling through the page, I found it: a contact number! In my mind, I could hear the hallelujah chorus. I called, I whatsapped pics of the thingy. I couldn’t make out the pictures perfectly, but I got in my car and drove.

I drove to the Souedi Supermarket, beside “On the Run”. I hung a right and walked for under a minute and there it was on the second floor, written in English and Arabic: Hawash Kitchen Accessories.

The gentleman in the red shirt was the nice man who whatsapped me back and forth with pictures of possible replacements for my broken sink tray/drainer – thing. The younger man in the white shirt was an incredibly knowledgeable sales representative that really did his best to explain to me why it’s impossible to purchase a sink tray without the drain plug (it’s not what the parts are called, by the way, I’m making them up cause I still can’t master the terminology).

At this point, my only problem was that the piece I wanted didn’t match the one I had. It looked different. I mean it was very pretty…. but it was different. Then the young man proceeded to show me how these contraptions actually fit into a sink. I took a deeper look at one of the sinks and my jaw dropped. There it was! It was a brand new sink tray/drainer thingy that was an identical match! It was the same one I held in my hands!! It was it’s twin!!! and again, the Hallelujah chorus in the back of my mind.

“This one. I want this one. You can sell me this one with its mandatory drain plug thingy.” The young man who must have been exhausted with me by now was still as charmingly helpful as he could be. “Ms. that’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you. This piece, this brand: Teka [it’s Spanish], it isn’t sold apart from the sink; not even with the drain plug.”

So, in order to buy the tiny little sink tray, I’d have to buy the sink. In the far distance, hung on the wall, was the same exact sink that sat in my mother’s kitchen. This is the sink she chose. In my mind, the solution couldn’t be any simpler: “I’ll buy the sink!” I said to the young man and asked him not to think that I was out of my mind. It was well over a thousand pounds. Ask me again…. what is the worth of my father’s smile?

After quite some hesitation (and quite reluctantly), he agreed. I couldn’t have been a happier woman than I was in that very moment. My mother’s sink would be restored and my father would be joyful in her memory. It would cost me over a thousand pounds but I was willing to pay it. I was wanting to pay it. I was happy to pay it.

But that didn’t happen……

As I sat in the comfortable chair at the table where I would sign the paperwork and walk out with the sink, I had another thought: All I was ever going to use were those sink trays, so I asked the gentleman in the red shirt if the store could hold on to the rest of the body of the sink and donate it to someone or someplace that needed it. Yes…… I walked into a store and caused quite the raucous and commotion. Why can’t I be a simpler client?

As I sat and waited and stared and held the little sink tray/dish/drainer thingy, the young man in the white shirt came back into the store and said, “Ms. I can’t do what you asked me to do. I can’t sell you a whole sink when all you need is this tiny piece.”

With him, another man had entered the store and before I could I ask why (I was so close to my mother’s sink thingy!). The gentleman extended his hand and introduced himself as Gasser Hawash. Ehem… yes… the same name that was written on the store. This was his store. Mr. Hawash said that they could not comply with my request because he truly felt that it would be, and I quote “unethical”.

I couldn’t see what was unethical about it. The products come with rules, I was willing to abide by the rules, but I still wanted to get what I needed. How is he unethical?

It turns out that he had bumped into the man as he was going to the warehouse and in their exchange, he told him about my story and my case. Mr. Hawash came upstairs to see for himself, and there I was in the chair. All I want is to buy that sink, and he refused to sell it to me. It felt like the showroom was spinning around me. I felt lightheaded and at times I was overcome by the virtue and moral standing of these amazing people that I had to work hard to hold back my tears. There were telephone calls. People calling people. Saying stuff…

In the midst of it all, Mr. Hawash told me that he was trying to call a few contacts, to find a way to help me. To be honest, I didn’t understand what was happening. He was giving instructions that I couldn’t keep track of or fathom. In what felt like a heartbeat, sink parts were being unfastened, a yellow store bag was produced and the two sink-tray drainer thingies were placed inside.

After I’d gained my footing, and asked if it was alright that I was allowed to buy them (and without the drain plug either!!), the most hilarious part of it all happened. I asked them how much my bill was and Mr. Hawash looked at the young man and asked “how much is it?” and the young man cracked a small laugh and answered “I don’t know.” Then after some very talented mental math (mashaallah), the number was called: 100 pounds each so 200 pounds total.

In a world driven by the greed, the greedy, and the green; there are those that don’t just work the job…. they live the job. For me, they are the hope of what a nation could be if we all stopped “working” and started “living”. Not only did I make three new friends, tonight, I walked out of the mall feeling a part of Egypt that I have missed for a long time: The unbreakable, unshakable, unyielding Egyptian spirit. It’s the one that stands beside you and lifts you up when you fall. It’s the one that protects you, no matter what the cost.

If you’re ever in the market for kitchen accessories, I highly recommend bringing your business here. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Hawash Kitchen Accessories

Email:   gasser@hawahkitchens.com

Tel: 26164841/2/3

It turns out these kitchen sinks are not as simple as we think. In fact, the next time you walk into your kitchen, take a moment and really appreciate what you have there because it’s exactly like the “skeleton song” we sang as kids: The knee bone’s connected to the…thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the…hip bone.

Okay, sinks are the same!

The sink tray’s connected to the….drain plug. The drain plug’s connected to the drain pipe…. and it goes on. 

If you’ve read this far, give them a call and tell them you’ve read an article by “Ms. Amira” and tell them you’re celebrating their kindness and humanity.

An Introvert’s Bad Day: Step into My Parlor

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The beauty in being created in diversity is boundless. I always say that life would be intolerable if mankind looked the same; thought the same. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that good days and bad days are relative to different people.

One person’s bad day may be another person’s good day etc.

Today … I’m having a very bad day. I don’t know what brought it on and I do not care to psychoanalyze. What I do know is that I’ve spent the entire day battling my tears so that they don’t fall.

For an agonizing period of time, I wished the world would miraculously disappear from around me, or that I would become entirely invisible. The gentle word “good morning” seemed to drive a knife through me and I wanted to scream to the world “stay far away from me”. With composure, I smiled and answered back “good morning”. A good heart tames my reason-less dissociation from the world.

I wanted to shut off all my senses. I didn’t want to see or hear anyone or anything; people, cats, birds, anything. Not even the air. This is not a “me” thing, as I am fully aware that I am not alone in this. At times, though, it can become crippling.

Case in point: I was supposed to go into work today. I couldn’t get out my mind, let alone my bed.

 

The Many Named God

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“Do we have a soul?”   This is a very important question because the answer to it will lay the groundwork to help explain my mind.

It seemed every time I switched on the news or loaded FB or…. really, just woke up and start living, I was faced with the reports of the sad evolution of mankind… us.

Hate. War. Famine. Sadness. Murder. Racism. The inhuman violations of everything human and non-human. And then, of course, presidential elections *cue eye rolls*.

Well. Something happened, and I will try to explain it. For now, though, let’s just say that I got to thinking about… brace yourself… Love. Ever stopped to think about what people do in the name of love? People have done very bad things in the name of love. It’s the cliche rhetoric of wanting to protect something SO MUCH…. because you love it.

I have to insert the following comment in order not to mislead my readers: I am, in no way shape or form: a romantic of any sorts. Really, not a romantic bone in my body…. At most, maybe a tooth. A single tooth. But I am capable of immense love.

People have killed each other because of love. We’ve oppressed one another for fear of losing the other. We have conformed to intricately developed roles and rules and regulations on “How to love”. We’ve loved to the extent as to hate whatever else we don’t immeasurably love. We’ve fought. We’ve clawed. We’ve judged.

So…what is love? If, like me, you believe that people have a soul and that the universe was created by a transcendental, superior, being known to us as God, then the question lingering in my mind was: What was the purpose of creating love?

My answer came quick and swift against the backdrop of what I saw and experienced: Love was created to bind people together. In the absence of such a bond, we would not have the will or perseverance to honor our duties to one another…as people, as family, as societal beings.

I’ve seen parents and kin say “I love you” to one another when they hardly know each other. That’s right. They can live together in the same house and not know (really know) each other. Yet, still, “I love you”. Same with siblings. Same with spouses. It is, many a time, a duty.

“I love you according to my duty,” said Cordelia to her father, King Lear.

Is this love? At most, it is a binding emotion, existent to keep us together: community. And it feels very real because it IS real! But it isn’t my truth. My truth is the existence of something that is real and pure and true and strong enough to stand alone. A feeling of love that is bred free from duty.

So, if I wasn’t required to love you, would I? If I didn’t necessarily need something from you, would I love you at all? ……… It’s time for me to disclose the matter that brought this onslaught of “the search for meaning” upon me: I was wronged and hurt…immensely.

While they yelled and screamed and cried, I was silent. I held on to my truth, and I held my tongue and temper. I was calm and centered. Mind you, I’m a Taurus. I can out-fight a storm. But I chose calm and silence because I didn’t want to fight.

My mind shuts down, now, in the presence of loud and aggressive people. They poison my spirit, no matter how much they love me. This is my truth: The people closest to us can hurt us, immeasurably, in the name of love. A form of love. Love that exists whether they know us or not. Glue and duty.

So, why did God do it? Why did He create us this way? I’m not arrogant and won’t pretend that I know the answer, but I will tell you what I believe (for myself: I don’t speak on behalf of anyone or any religion. I speak for me).

I believe that every one of us has a soul and that it is ancient. All of us, even the ones unborn. I believe that each one of our souls is tested….specifically, that we are interviewed. That’s right, an actual interview. Except, our interview doesn’t just come with questions like: “If you were placed in this situation, what would you do?” Our questions are administered in the form of a true simulation where we “live” each question and answer through our actions. All is written.

Mankind. We are souls in meat-suits. I don’t put so much weight and value in love because I see what the different forms of it does to different people. When in the absence of love, and to the best of my ability, I place my decisions and actions in Mercy and Tolerance; and I place my Trust in the God that created them all and left us to choose.

If what I say is true, and if each man and woman considered it, would the color of our skin matter? Would we torture and kill animals? Pollute water supplies? Deny food to the hungry?

I know what I’m writing as the answers to my interview with the many named God, what are you writing in yours?

Peace, Blessings, Mercy, and Tolerance to the world.

 

 

 

 

Message from an Angry Egyptian Woman

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Dear World,

If my profanity upsets you, please be advised that I am fresh out of eloquence.

While childhood is generally regarded as the “carefree days” and high school and college are the “best days of our lives” and our 20s are the fun years..blah blah blah… I’m gonna call it out as a crock of shit. Rites of passage, my ass!

For a multitude of people, the carefree days come with an array of being bullied by teachers (many of whom don’t give a damn and are simply collecting a pay check), high school is spent working 200 assignments a week and stuffing our heads with so many “facts”….ooozing grey matter out the wazoo….figuring out the construct of standardized tests just so that we can pass them ….and it’s all in the name of trying to get into college and THAT comes with juggling three part time jobs just to afford the bloody tuition.

Soft reminder: Ahmad ibn Majid was 17 years old when he navigated the ship that helped Vasco da Gama find his way from Africa to India! He was 17!

What are 17 year olds doing today?

Let me tell you about my 20s…. That’s when I saw the twin towers in NY burn and crumble to the ground. My life long best friend lived in Fort Lee, NJ and worked in NY. That’s when my whole world changed…. when political shit dictated that the entirety of the world’s Muslim community would be branded as “terrorists”.

In My Head: Oooops, guess I just can’t pray that way on the off-chance I’m seen and taken for a hate-breeding, building-blowing, peace-despising, infidel-burning, ignorant, floor-washing, food-making, long-haired Muslim woman who cannot look a man in the eyes. Are you shitting me?

And now………………NOW, I get to enjoy my 30s…my “prime”. Let me tell you what my 30s look like as a human being in today’s world:

In (__insert country name__), 3 men were brought up on charges for picking food out of the garbage….charged with “stale food theft”.

In (___insert country name___), police shoot and kill unarmed men, women, elderly and children because they felt “threatened”…. With what???? a bag of fucking chips???? What is it about unarmed pre-teens that “threaten” the big, armed, body-shielded, trained police officers??? Huh? and in other news: Cop Threatens to Arrest Journalist for Arguing With Him on Facebook….Dafuq?!

Food is saturated with GMOs, brain-wash education rots generations of minds, cancer cures are “hush hush” cause treatment is profitable, nuclear bombs made world wide like they were freakin hotcakes in storage, polar ice cap is melting and don’t even pretend global warming isn’t hitting the proverbial fan. I live in Egypt, damnit, it isn’t supposed to snow here!

……………and today, I have to wake up to read that 21 of my Coptic brothers were lined up and slaughtered by ISIS, Libya, in the night while I slept in my bed.

“I’m angry as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” Sound familiar? Damn it, I am done!

I look around and people are cruel and gullible and pretentious and murderous and hateful and ruled by ignorance and the greed, the greedy, and the green! They lie and cheat and manipulate and poison the very core of what’s left of us: the human race.

Here’s the thing. The thing is that the world isn’t gonna get any better. It’ll change…sure…but it won’t get any better. Maybe you still have hope, but right now…..I really don’t. In adulthood, I look around and see what I can only describe as blatant, open-faced, illogical insanity!

I didn’t make ISIS but I have to deal with their shit! I didn’t make the Muslim Brotherhood, but I have to deal with their shit! I didn’t make the KKK but I have to deal with their shit! I didn’t make the Nazi regime but I have to deal with their shit! I’m not American, or French, or Danish, or Venezuelan, or Chinese, or Greek, or Australian, or any other nationality…I’m just a very angry Egyptian woman. But as a human being, I’m forced to feel for every injustice I have to look at or learn about. You know why? Cause I was raised that way.

What level of depravity has to exist in human beings that can lead them to do half the shit they do today? And why can’t a whole damn world who “condemn such acts” make it stop?

“Things will get better when the world unites as one”. Bullshit. It sounds great, but it’s bullshit. The world is never gonna unite. There is no such thing. The whole idea is romantic and idealistic like one of Socrates’ abstract Forms. Where is the political gain in which economic interest lie? Not in humanity’s unity…. i.e. it’s never gonna happen.

This didn’t start with Egypt. And it won’t end with Egypt. And let’s be perfectly clear about this: This is not about God and religion! It’s about diseased minds! I am not the one with a gun in my hands…..I’m the heart-broken sister with tears in her bloody eyes! The God I kneel for never condoned terrorism, He proclaimed peace, blessings, love, and mercy. THAT is what I believe in.

The sad part is that I am going to sleep now, and I know that when I wake up in the morning, children will still be reciting brain-wash curricula, cancer will still be incurable, food will still be half-poisonous or unavailable to the hungry, the Earth will still be dying, our protectors will still be the ones killing us, foreign dignitaries will still be smiling and shaking hands, hubris will remain the spoken fluency of anyone who is anyone in whatever position of civil or political power……. and I’m still going to be as angry as I am in this very moment.

For all who are taken, God rest your souls.

Killing the Pesky Mosquito that Keeps Me Awake at Night

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SLOW, SYSTEMATIC, TORTURE!

Overall, I don’t like insects. I don’t like killing them either. Philosophically, I do like ants. And I make an exception when it comes to bees because I used to be one in a past life.
Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are pure, unadulterated evil. I feel no guilt squatting them. In fact, I brings me peace.

A while back, my darling child came into my room and woke me up at 2:30 in the morning. Owing to the nature of the fact that I hadn’t slept well the night before, I simply didn’t wake up. But he wouldn’t stop…and finally, dream world became distant and the sound of my child’s voice resounded in my bedroom.

“Mom, there’s a mosquito in my room…. I can’t sleep…. please come kill it.” I wanted to tell him to cuddle it into his arms like Mama Bear and go to sleep!!! But instead, I closed my eyes again and hoped that it would all go away and that I would
once again be transported to La La Land.
Only, by 3:30, my son had woken me up another 6 times…. At 3:30, I got out of bed and began “the hunt for the red-blooded mosquito.”

I squatted one…. and then another one… they launched an attack in pairs and then trios. My child and I, armed with pillows, slashed and sloshed and killed them one by one… sometimes two at a time.

And then I collapsed on his bed and alllllllllllmost nodded off. I was snapped into consciousness by the feeling of a large pillow smashing into my leg. My eyes popped open and my son stood their guilty and grinning; boasting that he had just saved my leg from a bite.

I was up.. then dressed… then off to work. I worked a thirteen hour day and on the way home, I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up one of those plug-into-the-wall-and-kill-mosquitoes-
for-300 hours-thingy.

I was so tired by then, I swear I damn near cried on the way back. But it wasn’t all bad. My house has since been mosquito-free and I snore loudly in my deep REM-cylcled sleep.

The Dream, The Science: Breaking Through to the Other Side

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If someone writes a story, and no one knows it exists, will it make a sale?

 

It’s a categorical imperative that self-publishing is a gamble, based on odds and ratios, for most authors. Tables and guidelines are formulated in the name of education, and tool-kits are put together and often sold to aspiring writers that offer to “increase sales”….”30 days guarantee or your money back” “Crack the SEO code!”.

Once upon a time, a poet named Nizar Qabbani wrote about a fortuneteller’s cup. It follows her reading of a young man’s fortune. His fate was to fall in love with a woman like none other. He would search for her through all the lands with only his love to drive him.  He would travel the oceans and ask the waves of the sea; the shores of the sea about her, and his tears would fall like the rivers of the world. In the close of his life, he will realize that the woman he searches for has no home and no address and his life will be spent, “..pursuing only a trail of smoke..”

If, like me, you live in the “worker sector” of today’s global society, then you probably don’t have the money to spend on these tool-kits, or even to “boost” every other post on your Facebook Page. So what’s the deal? Well, that depends on your product.

As far as marketing goes, there are tons of books. Heck, there are entire fields in academia devoted to it. For us, the working class, it will always boil down to three basic things: The quality of your product, word of mouth, and your positionality.

I grew up as a dreamer, and learned to live as a pragmatic. If you don’t have money in your wallet, but you’re happiest when you’re writing, then you keep writing. Even if that means that a month goes by without a sale (yes, I’m talking to you). You don’t have to keep chasing a trail of smoke. Just know that the smoke is there, and once in a while, reach up and run your fingers through it. Play with it, knowing that you may never possess it. Integrate your passion with the life you have and already live.

  • Work damn hard.
  • If it’s mean to be, it will be.
  • Have faith in your product.
  • If it’s meant to be, it will be.
  • Live fiercely!
  • If it’s meant to be, it will be.