5 Ramadan 1440
وَتِلْكَ الْأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ
This keeps spinning in my head.
This Ramadan is not like last Ramadan, and it won’t be like next Ramadan.
Like I’ve said elsewhere, I’m resolved to abstain from punching anyone this month.
Also, like I’ve said elsewhere, I’m hosting in-laws, and we are going on week three.
This means I could share stories that are infinitely spicier, infinitely pettier — but the friends who I petty text are wise and have suggested those are meant to be curated for future purposes. For now, all you need to know is I made a boss move before iftar last night by ordering in wings and pizza. And then after tarawih, I made a very large pot of chicken stew for suhur based on a Yemeni recipe.
And before I say why, I’ll shift to Egypt.
During the years I was in Egypt — including right before I left Chicago for Cairo — I used to have the most vivid, lucid dreams. They were so narratively interesting, symbolically rich, particularly revealing that I still remember them.
I won’t narrate all of them here.
We’re not all Josephs, but we’ve all met Joseph’s brothers in some form.
Here’s an index of some I remember.
There’s the dream about Hagar and Sarah. About a scholar’s salawat. About a man’s beautiful twins. About a woman breast-feeding her friend.
A dream about a man in prison who was walking in a garden. About a conversation on Arabic language. About people running under a bridge because someone special had arrived. About one man who looked like two. About a hidden library in a sanctuary. About a person in love who couldn’t sleep. About a mountain surrounded by water at its foot.
A dream about someone squeezing my insides out. About someone who was embraced by an enemy but she couldn’t lift her arms to return the embrace. About tacos in America. About a couple eating an elaborate meal.
A dream about coffee ice cream.
The dream about coffee ice cream, I believe, took place in an ice cream parlor in Zamalek.
Alongside Garden City and Maadi, at the time, Zamalek was the neighborhood of choice for many North Americans and Europeans.
Other than when I attended my weekly maqamat course at a music school, however, I spent very little time in Zamalek.
In my dream, it was late afternoon. I could tell by the way the light fell through the windows. A woman who I imagined was my friend was with me. I said she should really try the ice cream. I told her that it’s delicious and that I heard such good things. I remember feeling an urgency hoping she would enjoy the experience with me.
For some reason, she didn’t listen — I finally stopped telling her. Time was running out.
I was then given a cup of coffee ice cream and ate it on my own. It was so deliciously rich, so fragrant and deep in its coffee flavor that when I woke up — although I was in my bed in my room on Husain Hijazi Street and it was morning instead of late afternoon — it was as if I could still taste the ice cream in my mouth. It was as if the refreshing cold of the ice cream was still on my lips and tongue.
I had never had a dream about food that was so sensorially intense that the taste lingered for some time after I woke up. I even smacked my lips, and I felt full.
I’m not sure what the dream meant then, but I shared it with a couple friends who laughed saying I sure love coffee ice cream.
It’s true. I do.
But now, ten years later, I think I understand what that dream meant.
(Day 4, dream a dream)