I was defeated by the pandemic. When my father died, I knew for the first time the bitter taste of loss, and when the pandemic forced me to bury him alone, my grief became insurmountable. I had hoped that when the people whose lives he touched – whether Christians or Muslims, whether from Cairo or from my hometown in Minya – would come to console me, I would be able to recover a little and gather what was left of my strength, but I was denied even this small comfort as I was diagnosed with the coronavirus immediately after he passed.
Right before my father’s death, I rented a beautiful house in an elegant residential compound on the outskirts of Cairo called Janna (paradise). To me, it was paradise, and the house glimmering under the sun and air made me feel safe. The neighborhood was peaceful, and I relished in my freedom to stroll around with my five-year-old daughter without fearing street thugs, who left no woman in peace. Growing up in Maghagha, Minya, I learned at an early age to live in fear of harassers, as no woman, regardless of her age or religion, could avoid them.
Living in Janna also gave me the confidence and the independence I needed after my divorce. I had a budding private business which enabled me to afford a new life where I felt safe and happy, and it even helped me start to pursue my lifelong dream of doing a Master’s degree abroad. But then, like a bolt of lightning, the pandemic hit and stripped me of my strength, my financial security, and my father, the Reverend Adel Hakim, who was my rock.
At this crucial moment in my life, while I was trying to recover from a failing marriage and reorganize my priorities, I was stopped dead in my tracks. All my life I had fought to find my place, attain my freedom, stand tall and shield myself against ceaseless attacks by a male dominated society that relishes the destruction of women’s confidence. Being the daughter of a great man, I didn’t hesitate to terminate my miserable marriage knowing only too well, being a Christian, the bitter consequences of my decision.
My father Reverend Adel Hakim was an Evangelical Protestant1 priest who managed to find his way into the hearts of all those who knew him, regardless of their sect or orientation, whether Muslim or Christian. He was a preeminent figure in my hometown where I lived until the 2011 uprising, and it was his strength of character and power of conviction that filled me with the confidence to become the powerful woman I am proud to be today.
This upbringing was my curse and my blessing all at once. I was cursed with my unrelenting abhorrence of weakness and all signs of despondency, and blessed with a yearning to pursue my dreams no matter how impossible they seemed.
I am now striving to get back on track with my studies and working hard to provide for my daughter, just like my father did for me. And although I am unsure what life will throw at me now that I am without the support of my reverend father, I know that all the good he instilled in me will blossom and help me brave the psychological, social, and economic hardships of this pandemic.
1 A sect that is followed by 2 million people out of the 12 million Christians in Egypt.
The Film producer tells the story of Nadia the priest's daughter who is Sada’s Egypt documentary storyteller.