The Chronicles of a Left Handed in Egypt
Wednesday 12 October 2022

I was born left handed. For a Muslim family in Egypt that’s not good news. The first time this came to my attention I was 5 years old. A little kid in Islamic Kindergarten my parents asked for help from the KG teacher about this issue and thankfully I had an understanding teacher. I still remember the gist of her answer until now. She told my parents that they shouldn’t take any countermeasures, maybe just train him to eat with his right hand.

Other kids were not so lucky. When I grew up friends told me their experiences. A common remedy was that parents tie the kid left arm behind his back for long periods of time to train him on using his right hand. Others were beaten badly to make sure the physiological barrier was too strong and they wouldn’t dare to use their left hand. Others lucky kids like me were just scolded every time they use their left hand.

Moving to primary school I showed good illustrating skills with my left hand and the whole argument of trying to write and draw with my right hand thankfully just vanished. But the eating regular scolding program remained up until today.

One of the difficulties I had at school was the direction I need to sit. Being in a classroom with over 60 kids. Each desk had 3 kids, The only place I can sit and be able to write is the left most side. any other place my arm would be obstructed by my colleagues right arm or the wall.

There are the little inconveniences where I grab something with my left arm while I’m not supposed to. Like handing the Quraan to one of my parents. Or getting on the whiteboard to write something infront of the whole class the to the teacher surprise I’m left handed. Not to mention the Egyptian sense of humor and how we can grab any punch line from a movie and apply it to the current situation to make a good laugh. I was always a target to this one joke “Write with your left you Ashwal (leftie)” from on of Adel Emam old movies. That was funny but not to me.

Growing up and discovering the internet I naturally found little articles talking about the design choices in alot of products the of course favor the majority of right handed public, like scissors hands (Helping my mother with sewing and cutting clothes was painful all the time but I didn’t know until then.). The faculty section chairs with right arm for writing I never knew how to use that without twisting my waist.

Being left handed is definitely not one of the things that I liked about myself, It’s associated with a sense of guilt for something that’s not wrong. Until now it feels like a disability of some sort. Writing infront of someone who doesn’t know that I’m left handed always holds that sense of time ticking bomb were he’ll comment on it with a little smile and making a good conversation about other left-handed people he knows in his life. I expect this comment and it terrifies me.