CAIRO – 3 April 2018: "Goodbye Stranger
Your stay was short, but it was fantastic
May you find your garden, which you’ve searched for a lot
Your visit was a dance of the shadow dances
Drop of the dew drops before sunrise
A rhythm that we’ve listened to for seconds
Then we shook our heads ignoring it
Unfortunately, everything ends!"
Although this was a part of “The Legend of Prophecy” novel by late prominent Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, his readers and fans now direct these words to him following his death on Monday at the age of 55.
“Utopia” book cover by the late Egyptian Ahmed Khaled, -Photo courtesy of Goodreads.
"The scenes of my funeral will be beautiful and moving, but I will not see it unfortunately, although I will definitely attend it," Tawfik once said, predicting his own death.
Tawfik wrote about varied issues including love, freedom, oppression, friendships, relationships, optimism and pessimism, amongst others. He exceptionally tackled each of these themes in his writings, novels and articles.
How medicine enriched Tawfik’s literary life
Medicine was a fruitful inspiration throughout his lifetime journey, which made him affectionate for writing without dismissing writing and medicine. For Tawfik, studying medicine was a significant experience which allowed him to see how people from different classes deal with death and become gradually afraid of dying. His medical background inspired him to study human beings at their weakest points, and psychology was a prominent aspect of his writings.
The way he viewed death was noteworthy and intensely reflected in his writings, like when he once said, “Do not stop learning; dead people are the ones who stop learning and gaining experience, so you see how we are surrounded by the living dead all the time.”
“I fear death so much, and I am not one of those who chant in pride that they don’t fear it out of heroism. How can I not call upon death while I am not ready to face my Creator; those who do not fear death are foolish.” These strong words Tawfik once said to those who claim that one shouldn’t fear death.
"When you smell the fire without warning people surrounding you, you somehow contribute to ignite the fire," Tawfik writes in his first novel, “Utopia”, where he superbly drew an imaginary place inwhich presented Egyptian society living in bubble-like capital where there are no morals or rules.
A dialogue in “Utopia” once included the following words: "I told her that people should marry each other only to bring to the world a child who is better, more beautiful, richer and stronger than them. What new will we give the world? Only more misery?"
Highlighting human issues
Although depression is a common and serious mental health problem that has been discussed dramatically and scientifically in numerous researches, books, films and other artwork, Tawfik had his unique way to refer to depression, saying, “Depression is a curse, and most importantly, depressed patients are always intelligent and sensitive.”
Shedding light on depression’s dangerous consequences, he once wrote, “I thought to kill myself but then changed my mind, buying two sandwiches and drinking a cup of mint tea, expecting that in the morning I'll forget everything .That's what actually happened!”
Many of his thoughts were totally based on human needs, and his statement “One of the most important ways of helping others is just listening to someone revealing what hurts him” depicted this so well.
Although Tawfik was known for writing political articles on a regular basis, he presented some political issues directly in his literary work, such as the common misconception of leadership in the Egyptian society, about which he wrote, “We are all weak, like a rabbit with those who are stronger than him, while he is cruel, rude, strict with those who are weaker than him. The real nobility is being merciful with those you can harm and destroy!" Criticizing Arab dictators, he said, “The end of tyrants is something beautiful, but sadly we do not often live to see it.”
Portraying how valuable love should be for us, Tawfik saw that empowerment is about loving what others can’t bear loving. He also believed that the more dramatic relationships are, the more they become romantic.
As a legendary writer and author, Tawfik was definitely sarcastic. He said, “To be a sarcastic author you need to be able to make fun of yourself before making fun of others.” He specialized in fantasy stories, and his works included illustrated books, short stories and novels. Tawfik wrote more than 500 titles – up to 22 books a year – all the while holding down a full-time job at Tanta University.