The feelings that burst out during the revolutionary times will always be intense. When I look back to the early stage of the revolution and the time I’ve spent at Tahrir, I can pin point three particular moments in which my emotions were in the driving seat in an unprecedented manner. Together, they create the trio of dots to be connected and tell the tale of my experience building up to Mubarak’s exit. I could have my entire memory with the ongoing revolution be completely erased, but I would do everything I can to hold on to those three gems. That would be enough for me to reconstruct the beautiful story that will forever be told.
The march into Tahrir square
The revolutionaries who went through the Kasr El Nil encounter (many of whom took off from the Mostafa Mahmoud mosque) take pride in a victory that was arguably the most important on the 28th. We knew that a helping hand from the Giza and Haram people was absolutely vital, but we still cherish our bragging rights.
When I crossed the bridge and marched into Tahrir square, I was all alone, but was actively on the lookout of any of my friends and loved ones who were with me on the mission. Looking back, though, perhaps I was better off away from any sort of distractions to live the moment to it’s fullest extent.
As the sun was setting on the horizon, and the smoke with an affirming presence, the scene was unique in every imaginable manner. I walked towards Tahrir square step by step.
It was at that moment that I felt the victory march. As my revolutionary counterparts were banging stones against the metal posts to compose the war drum, I found myself tearing up as my uplifted spirit almost carried me off the ground. It was a moment too valuable to keep to myself, so without conscious control, I made striking eye contact with all those around me with an overly joyful smile as if to say ‘I love you’.
If that wasn’t enough, I leaped over the platform to the right as you approach the square from the bridge, and began hugging random, middle-aged men. I think their reaction was predominantly that of confusion, but I was completely blinded by the revolutionary mood.
The moment was intense, it lasted long enough to carry me over to the square, it was like I was witnessing Cairo’s central square for the first time ever. This is a highlight of the revolution that I will cherish for years to come.
Threatened by thugs, overlooked by the army
On Wednesday, April 2nd, it seemed like the Egyptian authorities were running out of ideas on how to handle a popular uprising. At Tahrir square, at around 2pm, I vividly remember the sight of my friend Adham Bakry tearing up as he overlooked tens of thousands of thugs holding pro-Mubarak signs approach. I hugged him and told him everything would be alright, at that point I wasn’t too concerned.
I walked over to the edge of the square and was near the line of encounter. Fight hadn’t broken out yet, but the tense situation assured us it was a matter of minutes. After an exchange of irrelevant words, random objects were launched from either end.
It was at that particular point that I felt the serious threat to our revolution. It’s relatively easy to handle anyone in uniform, but when thugs are disguised as genuine pro-Mubarak protesters, it’s difficult. In fact, the idea of civilians clashing at such a scale was unprecedented for us. I looked up to a residential building to our right and was shocked to see two army officers overlooking, one of whom held a professional camera with a sizable lens.
Within minutes, I suffered from what I understand to be some sort of panic attack. Tears were shooting out of my red eyes as I was yelling at the top of my voice and my body was shaking as I was attempting to point out a plethora of reactionary emotions. I directed my anger towards the army officers, but the fact that they couldn’t hear me raged me further. It was bad to the extent that a handful of fellow revolutionaries in the vicinity ignored the spark of the thug battle and approached me for help.
Luckily, my dear friend Mohamed Ghorab was nearby and he was able to calm me down. After taking my breath, I was able to put together logical sentences in which I explained that we are being attacked by thugs, and instead of keeping us separated, the army is photographing us as we dive into battle and end lives on either side.
That was lowest point for me throughout the 18 days. I felt like we were very close to losing Tahrir square, and even reform, let alone change, was destined to become of a bygone era.
Fortunately, a handful of victims of Mubarak’s educational system decided it was intelligent to advance deep into our territory with camels and horses. It was all uphill from there.
Hosni Mubarak steps down
The biggest advantage of spending the entire time at the square is that you’re always where it’s happening. On a daily basis, fake announcements were made that Mubarak had fled the country. At first I used to fall for the cheers and believe there was a big story developing. Soon after, calling them out was at effortless ease. I remember thinking that, when the real news comes (and we all had faith it was a matter of days), how would we be able to distinguish?
Sometimes you’ll never know how something feels until you live through it. On Friday, February 11th, right as the entire square was doing sunset prayers, the cheers organically sprouted from afar and approached in growing waves and it become clear that it was definitely not your standard hoax.
As soon as I heard, and repeatedly confirmed, the news that Suleiman announced Mubarak had stepped down, I froze. Moments later I was on the floor tearing up, the emotions were too much for me to handle standing up and I completely blocked out all of my surroundings. It was a particular moment with two of the most significant incidents of my life: victory against the regime, and the start of the revolution I’ve always dreamed of.
More so than the other two emotional high points, this one in particular was a collective reaction, with hundreds of thousands in the immediate vicinity, and millions beyond, concurrently riding on a wave of sheer joy and glory. Beautiful.
It’s the vibrant feelings that make us feel alive, and what better trigger could there be than a revolution. A historical revolution as ours. Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing struggle, emotions ran wild and it is something to remember. In basic human terms, that is what revolutions are made of.