When I was in Sydney, I spent a lot of my free time ice skating. I may have gone four times, and in one of those four occasions, I met *Fabo.
*Fabo is an ex hockey player and although we really didn’t say much to each other on that day, we resolved to exchanging our numbers and agreed to meet again.
Weeks went on so fast and my 6-week stay in Sydney is almost over. I spent most of my time catching up with old buddies and wrapping up my schedule at work until that day I heard from *Fabo.
He said he just got back from Moscow and that he would like to see me again before I fly out. So, Sunday, the day before I travel back to Cairo, I met up with him for breakfast at the weekend market in The Rocks.
This time the conversations went overflowing, I found out that he has ADHD which got me glued because my 7 year old nephew has ADHD too, and *Fabo is actually the first if not the only adult male I know who has ADHD. We compared notes about his childhood, how he dealt with it in his teen years, and how he is coping with it as an adult. He told me how he has bad memory, how his attention span does not last for five minutes, how he finds himself so focused into something one minute and so disengaged the next minute.
I told him about my misadventures and dilemma living in Cairo. How I am coping or not coping with the backwards society that is Cairo at the moment.
I told him about that one day I was invited in a social gathering by the Egyptian community in Sydney, how it shocked me to find myself being transported back to Cairo. I was in Sydney with Egyptians who were born and raised in Australia yet there was no sign, no tinge of the western culture at all. It was not evident in the way they speak, the way they act, the food they eat.
Hence, *Fabo and I spoke about progression. He told me his theory. He said that when you think about it, the Egyptian parents who migrated to Oz back in the 60s or the 70s will keep living the way they did before they migrated. So, it follows through that they will raise their child the way they know how. The progression is up for the second and third generation to take.
Too many conversations about random subjects after, it was time to go. I thanked him for the breakfast treat and I told him that he is probably the last person I had the chance of seeing before heading back to Cairo, and sure enough he was.
I took that day for what it is, two people meeting each other for the second time. There was nothing else left to be said. There was nothing unsaid. He didn’t send me any messages after that and nor did I.
Two days ago, I received a call from an australian number I don’t know. I took the call and the guy on the other end introduced himself as *Andy who happens to be one of *Fabo’s mates.
It turns out that *Andy just got back from Aswan, the first leg out of his 6-month trip around the world. And he needs to see me because *Fabo has a package for me. I met *Andy in a cafe in Mohandiseen, he told me about his trip in Aswan and his itinerary for this whole trip. He said *Fabo actually wanted to do the trip with him but he was so caught up with his work and flying course. I thanked *Andy for the favor he’s done for *Fabo.
In the cab on the way home, I stared at the small box, taken aback by everything. We haven’t spoken since that breakfast yet here is this small parcel sitting on my lap.
I got home, opened the box, and much to my surprise, I found myself smiling. He sent me two books–one of Kerry Greenwood who I mentioned to him as one of the Aussie writers I fancy. The other book is of Marge Piercy who I told him is my greatest inspiration when it comes to feminist views.
At the bottom of the box was a short note saying “I remember.” And true enough, he remembers. For a 28 year old man who has a bad memory and the attention span of a 2 year old, he sure put a lot of thought in it. For the first time, after that breakfast, I was recalling and rewinding everything we spoke of.
This morning, I woke up and saw the books on my bedside table and it was enough to remind me that I have to send *Fabo a thank you message at least.
So I went to check his Facebook page to finally send that message I should have sent after that breakfast or after I got the package he sent me, and much to my surprise and dismay, I found out that he is already gone.
I spent a good hour reading every single wall post from his friends and family–how he will be missed, how he is such a great son, friend, brother, uncle. There were photos posted on his wall from different periods of his life.
*Fabo passed away on the 31st of August, and I wouldn’t have known had I not thought of sending him a message. And I wouldn’t have thought of sending him a message if I hadn’t met *Andy who he sent after me.
I never got to thank him for the breakfast. I never got to tell him how I actually enjoyed every second of that conversation we had, and now, I will never get to thank him for his thoughtfulness.
It’s all too late, or maybe not.
*Fabo, the short time we spent together has been worthwhile. It was worth more than every second, every sip of coffee. I know very well that I will be spending some nights replaying that morning and rewinding every single thing we talked about. I am sure that this is not the last time I will look at your Facebook page and go through your photos elaborating the life you lived.
Rest in peace, mate. You will always be alive in memory. Until we meet again.
(Note: *not their real names.)