by Aida Bardissi
after Safia Elhillo
1. fact: the arabic word for doubt is شك the arabic word for tear is شق to the untrained ear, its letters sound the same. example: egyptian soldiers performed virginity tests on female protesters during the revolution. test. multiple choice: did our men: doubt or tear us? 2. fact: عقد folds itself thrice across our tongue — meaning: a necklace a contract a knot example: a man convinces himself i am worthy of being a wife. test. was my neck left: adorned marked or constricted? 3. fact: the arabic word for pen is قلم the arabic word for pain is الم to the egyptian ear, its letters sound the same. example: the bodies of journalists turn the nile to ink. silence tears itself into the pages of our dialect. test. is language: written or agony 4. fact: the arabic word for witness is شاهد the arabic word for martyr is شهيد to the untrained ear, its letters sound the same. example: we saw blood pooling in the streets, we live fractured/wailing/our deposed presidents haunting our half-dead demands 60 years later. we rise & wake with the same ghosts in our streets. test. we are a country of witnesses or martyrs?
Aida Bardissi is a current MSc candidate at the London School of Economics, where she specializes in race, indigeneity, & film in 20th Century Egypt. Her work has been featured in Mizna, VIBE Magazine, and DEAR Journal. She speaks four languages but dreams in one. You can find her on Instagram @masreyamrekaneya and on Twitter @aidabardissi.