My Journey to Cairo

by Malak Desouky

A constant reminder of one’s heritage is reflected with the question, “where are you from?”A uniform question – an expected question. Over the course of quarantine, my family and I visited Egypt. From the moment I stepped into the airport, I was confronted with the thought of connecting back to my heritage, the swift humified Alexandria breeze, and the comfort of eating basbousa. 

I remember sitting in a narrow airplane investigating the seatback screens as the intercom went on, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just been cleared to land at the Cairo International Airport. Please remain seated; the flight attendants will pass by the cabin to make one final compliance check and pick up any remaining cups and glasses. I appreciate your cooperation.” As I heard the Pilot’s announcement through the intercom, I held my breath, pressing my forehead against the oval-shaped window, placing my hand near my face. Overseeing the busy city I call home. Excitement flourished through my body to finally have the ability to reunite with my heritage and culture. My breath quickly escaped my lungs in a quick sigh of astonishment. The aircraft began to dim the lights off in preparation for landing; the air pressure throughout the plane continued to rise as we approached Egyptian soil. The increased pressure forced my eardrums to be pushed inward. A sharp, definite pain pierced my ears.

I motioned my lips into a yawn and placed both index fingers into my ears in an attempt to drive all the air out, but unfortunately, there was no luck. Moments later, I could see the reflection of the airplane lines on the black asphalt. The plane softly touched down to Gate 72B. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Cairo International Airport. It is currently 7: 50 PM and the temperature is 31°C. On behalf of Turkish Airlines and the entire crew, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip, and we look forward to flying with you again. Have a lovely evening.”

The passengers energetically unfastened their seatbelts and unloaded the overhead compartments. The narrow aisles thronged with passengers in seconds with passengers and their carry-ons. Excitement, impatience, and phone calls occupied the clustered atmosphere. As I overheard the passengers’ welcoming phone calls by their families in Arabic, a warm feeling of comfort soon overtook the anxious feeling of change. Minutes later, my sister, Mariam, raised the right armrest and relocated to the aisle seat, prepared to grab our luggage. I swiftly gathered our earphones, water bottles, and boarding passes. I followed Mariam as she joined the queue of exhausted passengers. As the line pushed forward, we gathered our luggage and exited the aircraft. The dry wind of Cairo forcefully pushed back my long greasy brown hair. I looked to my left only to see my sister grin and say, “we are finally home.” We quickly descended the passenger boarding bridge connected to the airport and were officially welcomed by the big vibrant yellow “WELCOME TO CAIRO” sign.