The following is the text of a message sent by Ahmed El Droubi, during his detainment. The message is dated 23rd May 2006:
Time; seems so very valuable, all that that has been lost, yet seems equally worthless as at times it seems to pass ever so slowly. Every minute drilling frustration into my spirit as I remain locked in a box. The concept of being so helpless, unable to even stand up and walk out of the "room" is simply frustrating.I [have] reached a level of acceptance. Not thinking about what I'm missing or the simple things like picking up the phone and talking, like sitting down on a chair, like the choice not to leave your home and walking in the street.
It gives me patience to think that my loved ones and my friends think of me as I think of them. Knowing that at least one or two are doing all that is in their power to help me, or to phrase [it] better , to support me. The fact that I know that I am not alone, that I pass, as a thought at least, [through] the minds of my friends provides a warmth and provides me with a sense of being [a] part of something.
I know I'm not thinking straight, it's pretty easy to tell; as I am not even writing straight: so I am going to try to rewrite the ideas that I had written at an earlier phase a few days after I was arrested (and lost). Actually all the bullshit I've already written about loved ones and friends was part of what I lost.
I met a fellow prisoner in the Khalifa police startion while I was there. This story aims to illustrate the source of my patience (essential to my survival) in the earlier days of my imprisonment; and I have to admit that I am not sure of the story's influence on my morale in the later stages.
Anyhow, this colleague (fellow captive) was awaiting release after finishing a 10 year sentence. A conversation developed between us the night that we found out that we were to be detained for 15 days. The news arrived (pretty much expected), but recieved very dramatic responses from several of my fellow detainees. Some reached the extent of tears, wailing and [being] quite depressed. The fact that I am as usually only saw the irony in the situation and broke out into laughter and maintained a smile of "Oh Well".
Later that evening the conversation with my Sudanese friend (the guy who was completing a 10 year sentence) whose name... was Ali, started up. Allow me to go on a little about his background. He was a Sudanease immigrant to Egypt, not much of an education, if I recall correctly he did not complete secondary school. Yet he was very well read( he had nothing else to do for 10 years), he was a big fan of revolutionary movements around the world and was a great admirer of Che and Ghandi.
Anyhow he discussed with me the meaning of being a مناضل (I've been trying to translate the word to English but haven't found one that satisfies the meaning). He told me he thought from our conversations in the cell over the last two days and my actions that i am a مناضل (I'll translate it to activist for now) . He said that I seemed to accept the sentence we had received though I was aware of its injustice.
He said that he did not comprehend the response of many of the individuals that were arrested with me. He said "how could you be a true activist, without thinking through and considering the possible outcome of yur actions?" Wasn't the situation that we were in a possibility all along?! He said one of the greatest and most important attributes of an "activist" was sacrifice, that imprisonment or any other consequence should be considered and the "activist" should be aware of it as a possibility and have been willing to take the chance therefore making the choice before taking any step.
Our conversation developed and at one point he asked me if i had any regrets; my response was that I had one: the anguish that I would cause my parents. Ali dismissed this regret. He said to me that I was an "activist" that my sacrifice was for them. More importantly he said that as an "activist" my family isn't my immediate family, that my family consists of 70 million people, that my arrest and any hardship I go through will sadden the hearts of all Egyptian mothers, all Arab mothers and of humanity in its essence. He described an "activist" as being part of something, he placed context to our sacrifice and he put the essence of our goals.
I don't know if i can feel what he said, I can't say what he said is not true or that it's in anyway realistic but at times for a few minutes I feel a lost better looking at it this way, because on some level I do hope it is true and even maybe even believe it.
One thing I did learn in prison is that what you live by and believe in and what you can identify as the case, can be completely different things.Ahmed El Droubi
The unedited text of the letter can be found on Salma's Blog