In The Name of The Grandfather

March 10, 2016 OPINION/NEWS



Muhammad Aladdin

“Here is the picture of my grandfather, Abdulkader Saber, born presumably in 1886. Yes, you read it right, it’s not a typo: 1886. His old identity card from 1951 indicated that he was 62 years old, and with a simple calculation you can get the date. Could that be right? Well, there’s my father, who was born in 1941 to an old guy who happened to be my grandfather.

Would it be different if he was born in 1896? It’s still a distant era, as you can see from that hairstyle and moustache; a long time ago, as you read in his delicate, fine hand-written diaries about his deep friendship with Issac (Zaki) Murad, a Jewish musician who happened to be the father of Layla Murad, one of Egypt’s most renowned 20th-century singers. It was a distant era when your father would tell you how he and his father used to stroll easily along Zamalek, in the heart of Cairo, to “enjoy the pace.” It seemed like a distant era when I hear an old family story that my grandfather went to London just to find a brother-in-law who went missing. We do not have those haircuts anymore, nor Egyptian Jews who can you see casually in Cairo, nor streets you can stroll, nor this liberty of movement, where you can just go to London. And finding a man lost in London? Are you kidding me?!

Only one thing connects us both, however; we have both lived with the great promise of a happy new world. His world was crushed by two world wars, and then a series of wars in the Middle East. My world is still being hammered today: you only have to look at the news to see it.

Maybe I will have a son who is mesmerized by how distant his grandfather’s photo seems. I just hope that whatever promise his world gives him, it will be better than mine, and better than my grandfather’s.







Muhammad Aladdin

Muhammad Aladdin, a noted Egyptian novelist, was born in Cairo on October 7th, 1979. He was chosen as one of the most important Egyptian writers in the new millennium by the Egyptian weekly Akhbar Al-Adab (News of Literature) in 2011, and one of the ‘’Six Egyptian writers you don’t know but you should’’ as the writer Pauls Toutonghi said in The He has written 5 novels and 4 collections of fiction; among the noted work his first novel ‘The Gospel According to Adam’, ‘The Idol’, and his latest ‘A Well-Trained Stray’. Some of his works were translated into English, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and Spanish.

He has contributed to several publications like the Lebanese leading An Nahar and MTV’s Rebel Music, Egyptian leading As Shuruq, and Arabian leading Al Arabi Aljadeed.

He lives inbetween Cairo and Berlin, dedicating his full time to writing.


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