“Thus spoke Che Nawwarah” by Rakha, at The Kenyon Review
Published by The Kenyon Review, February 2013
Below are the first paragraphs.
I became obsessed with sodomizing Sheikh Arif round about the time his posters started crawling all over the streets. Today is July 20, 2012, right? A little over a year and a half after we toppled our president-for-life, Hosny Mubarak. Sheikh Arif’s posters began to show up only three, maybe four months ago—when he announced he was running in the elections held by the Army to replace said president. They seemed to self-procreate. And the more I saw of them, the more intense was the impetus to make the bovine symbol of virility they depicted a creature penetrated. Penetrated personally by me, of course, and I made a pledge to the universe that it would be.
Yes, indeed, my pale-skinned friend. Just please don’t look so bovine yourself while I tell you. To slip my modestly-sized dingaling into Sheikh Arif’s mighty badonkadonk: out of some sick mixture of fascination and outrage, I guess, it felt more like the purpose of my life than anything I could imagine doing before I died. And the feeling fazed me more than anyone. Even under the historical circumstances, sodomizing Sheikh Arif wasn’t something I could assimilate. With a little loosening of the platysma, I’m sure even you can imagine.
My name is K-h-a-l-i-d (and then) D. (and then) N-a-w-w-a-r-a-h. You know we’ve had TV ads warning us about talking to foreign journalists. Because, the Army tells us, all foreigners are spies. You heard about that too, ha ha! Here, have a cigarette. For one thing, it really makes no difference to my mother’s religion if you are a real operative—you know the expression, “my mother’s religion”? I mean, via business and/or Gulf oil, the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood are both serving foreign interests, right? What difference should it make to my mother’s cunt if you turn out to be a CIA agent? Khalid D. Nawwarah, yes. Drink your beer. I think human beings everywhere should know.
Fear not, gentle spy: I won’t tell you my life story. The important thing is that, like many Egyptians, I’ve spent years pretending to study at a place pretending to be a college that is, in fact, a temple Kafka might have imagined, where priests of social climbing hand out certificates of status to acolytes, granting passage. Totally fucked up. Either you join the mafia of the college-educated or you are cored for life—an apple, yes, to be consumed by the respectable. With the result that standards have been dropping steeply for sixty years, and not just standards of respectability. Like many cyber-activists, who are all dependent on their parents, I attended an expensive private school where I learned my English. Unlike them I’ve always enjoyed reading books in that language, in case you’re wondering how I know things that have nothing to do with either career or country.