The Cold Cup of Enskede


Nada sat in the corner of her new place or what she from now on would have to call her place, in the rented small flat on the outskirts of Stockholm in a town called Enskede. It has been 2 months since she’d arrived, and was busy settling down, getting accustomed to the new job, new people, new culture.Flat-Gamla-Enskede-Sweden-Stockholm-Enskede-4137_PictureType-SLEEPING_ROOM.jpg

A total new level of cold! She’s more used to the burning heat of Cairo’s summer and the quite hot temperatures of Wollongong in Australia. Now instead of a regular overcoat during winter, she had to get dressed as she’s being prepared for the end of days but the ice age version. But that was not on her mind at all.


She sat there in this corner near the window watching the snow fall slowly as if it was a gentle ballerina descending from the heavens, and the calm and quiet people Enskede which is south of Stockholm walked calmly by, it’s their day to day life after all travelling between the Islands of Stockholm. She never knew Stockholm of Sweden would have that many in it. One place with so many bits and pieces, just like her life. Full of bits and pieces.

Nada had grown up in Australia then lived in Egypt and then when she found she wasn’t satisfied began to try to find her way out until she landed a job in one of the prestigious Swedish Telecom companies.

She revised her life for the past 20 years since she started to reach her age of adulthood, she was very giving, energetic, outgoing and wanting to do wonders. But the move to Egypt by the time she was 21 was to prove a shock in her life. She thought when she reached Cairo, she would not just be swept by the beauty of its wonders she so longed to see but also by the beautiful people and amazing characters she cannot wait to see, she’s heard so much about the people and family members and more every time she spoke to her mother about Egypt. Her mom would tell these stories that she really loved.

But she also did her research, and found things didn’t look quite the way she perhaps thought but she didn’t imagine what she’d be up ahead.

By the time she had reached 24 Nada had fully realized the male dominance influence on the Egyptian society and how it affected her as a young lady and a woman before all. From condescending talks, to assuming she’s too innocent to understand not to mention the ton of jokes people would say about her because she has a couple of English words inserted in almost every sentence she said. But it’s how man saw her that disturbed her. The only place where she felt safe was home. That moment she would close the door behind her and land in her mom’s arms, she wouldn’t share the horrible talks, looks or even rude and senseless conversations but her mom saw it all in her eyes. Perhaps her mother was guilty of not opening up Nada’s eyes to the reality of what Egypt has become but the live experience taught Nada quite a lot.


None the less Nada never quit, never dropped out of the fight and managed to get job after job, being promoted in some cases on the same year she would get hired, she was that fired up and still willing to show people that it’s not about she’s better, but simply she can, she wanted people to realize she’s someone they could count on, I might wear a skirt, a nice office suit, or many other different things that may vary from lengthy to short, but she still believed she could be able to let people see behind her appearance the brain she possessed.

People would rely on her at work because of she was up to the responsibility so this was an arena where she was somewhat quite victorious.

Her biggest disappointment came when she tried to mingle in the society and build normal human relationships. It wasn’t easy for her to find friends, and of course love proved to be a major fiasco.

She hated arranged marriages, and found them quite a degrading act, but none the less she went along with a few of them which proved to her nothing that but what she thought was right. In one case the man would admire how smart, and open minded she is and the sentence that follows describes how he wants her simply to hide in his shadows and not appear, for he is to be her ‘protector’ and how can he be her protector if she wants to be in the front line. Of course, she instantly saw through his alpha male bullshit and embarrassed him politely by declining because telling him that what he needs perhaps is not to deal with an educated woman, but to deal with someone who wants to live her life as a damsel in distress but she would not play that role.

Her mind was outspoken that annoyed many of her family, because she wasn’t caring about whether or not she lands a ‘3arees’ (In Egyptian slang means a groom) where many young women in her age would be seeking to do. To her marriage meant responsibility and responsibility meant finding a partner that is there to share her whole and love her for who she is and not what he wants her to become!


She would hear too many times the comments of “You will end up being alone!”, “No man will marry you!”, “No man wants a woman who stands up to him or challenge him!”. She stood her ground until she began to get tired of the everyday life and the everyday looks of people she once hoped to be the embrace that bring her in eternally but that was not the case.

Nada took a sip of the warm coffee she had prepared for herself, having cupped it with both her hands as the warmth slipped under her skin and sent an enjoyable shiver down her spine. She loved her coffee, and now she was finally alone with no one to pester her with the same old questions “When will you get married?”, “Aren’t you planning on hunting you a groom?”, “Why are you taking your career so seriously? You’re going to get married by the end of the day! And won’t have time for this non-sense”


While some women she came across were quite successful in Egypt but she saw the scars they have, she heard their stories, their experiences and their lives. And she wanted none of that.  That’s why by the time she was 34 she decided she had had enough and decided to leave Egypt. To leave the lies, the deceptions and above all the hypocrisy of the society she was living in.


What people failed to see was simply her. They couldn’t understand that she wasn’t against having a man in her life, she wasn’t thinking of challenging him, but rather trying to see what he would see in her, is he there to really protect her, or just take care of his inflated ego that has been boosted by society 10-fold. She looked for a man who appreciated her as a woman, not as specie, not as a beautiful bride. But who she is entirely. With her cranky mood swings on her down days when her body keeps playing tricks with her to the loveliest of times when she’s on top of the world as well as the worst days when the entire universe comes crashing on her head. She wanted the man who will be right behind her helping her dream and aspire and run with her to catch her own dreams. She refused to give up a principal and not an option. She is all for fighting and compromising within a relationship, that was life is all about but she is not willing to do a full 180 degrees shift to please a man. It was never about how rich or poor he was as long as he was a decent person who understood what is a relationship and the importance of working together to make things work, the importance emotions, thoughts and understanding.

Nada now looked at her cup as it began slowly and gradually to lose its warmth. She was now completely alone. And in the land of the cold.

Many questions had arisen in the back of her mind. Too many to count, but the answer would not be delivered. But Nada is a patient person. When she felt she had too many of questions popping in her head for which she had no answer, she would resort to something that completely relaxed her, ‘Reading’, she grabbed one of the books she had brought with her, rested her body on her new bed and began to read sinking away in the world of her book and leaving the questions for another day… For her, the journey is yet to begin.



One thought

  1. I’ve always loved how mr.Tarek Refaat always brought in female protagonists, how he introduces some of the challenges and misfortunes women encounter in the Eastern society.. And this story is as enjoyable as the rest of the writings I’ve read before, the two imagistic devices, the shifting between different places and different times that goes so smoothly, without making the reader confused.

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