My mother was shocked when I told her. Shocked is a gross understatement. You’re shocked when you park your car in one spot and find it in another, but what’s the word for when your world turns upside down? When you see the sun rising in the west? That’s how disturbed my mom felt and accordingly reacted when I finally shared with her that I’m a dancer. Not only was the idea the farthest from her reality. Not only did I pick the one thing that was unfathomable that they didn’t even bother to forbid against. But also I was a successful computer engineer living everyone’s dream life in ‘Amreeka’ and a great source of pride and subject of envy in her circles.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that yelling, screaming, threats of disowning me (whatever that means when I was already in my 30s), wishing I was dead, and other irrational emotional explosions were the least of it.
Eventually, when my mother came to visit me in the USA, and came to my performances and classes (she was curious), she could see that I was very happy, my audiences and students were very happy and nothing matched the ugly picture in her head. Did she come around? well, not quite. You can’t change 60 years of conditioning in a month. I didn’t expect her to, but was very happy she experienced my new life.
Since then, when I shared anything about my dance life, her standard answer was, “Rabena yehdeeky ya benti” (May God show you the right path my daughter), and change the subject. I was content with that. Even though I don’t believe in God, I consider finding and pursuing my passion for dance to be a divine miracle, given my conservative upbringing. I had been shown the right path and I am very grateful for that.
Years passed. We all got older. My mother more fragile. She could barely walk. Very painful to see the 80+ years weigh in on her aging body. As a doctor, she lived a healthy life. Had always been active helping others, especially her siblings, as they aged too, and kept physically and mentally engaged. Sadly, a series of strokes eventually affected her mobility and muscle control. On the phone, she asked how I was doing. As always, I shared with her my dance life. She said “Rabena yedomha aleki ne’ma ya benti” (May God continue to bestow this gift upon you, my daughter). I was speechless. It was the very first time I hear my mother refer to dance as a gift. That simple spontaneous comment was one of the best gifts she had given me. Now that her body was ailing and unable to move, she was finally realizing and accepting dance as a valuable gift that is worth pursuing. I never thought I needed her approval. However, when it happened, it touched me very deep inside and I felt seen, for the first time, by my mother.
May every body be free to dance. Every voice be free to sing. Every soul be free to express itself.
#dance #gift #motherlove #egypt #bellydance #westandinlove #autobiography