It’s been a while since I want to write something about Faiah El Degwy, 25 year old (more or less) Italian-Egyptian, to date 61,8 thousand followers on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/faiah.j/, 118,233 on facebook https://www.facebook.com/FaiahElDegwy, rapper, specialized doctor to be, an explosion of sympathy and exuberance.
I “find” her because there’s one of her posts viral on FB. It was late December 2019, still graduating Faiah had just failed the neurology exam, she was really mad and had posted a not-so-nice dissing about her experience and what she thought of the rejection: “Friends, after studying neurology until December 23rd and being kindly sawed off, I had to vent, so this dissing was realized in an hour, an hour full of anger, in which either I dissed someone or I was arrested. I chose the first one. Enjoy.” (here https://www.instagram.com/p/B6ifIDDo2Tf/ or here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1527860414033246).
I was fascinated by how this girl managed to make her disappointment an art. Because that rap piece was very nice, it immediately got stuck in the head and she had (and has) an exceptional voice and a sense of rhythm and lived her emotions, telling and expressing herself with freedom but without vulgarity. To be clear, it is not that there was not some bad word, it is still a dissing, but as to say, even the bad words were not vulgar, they were simply an expression of a language that is necessary to get simple and direct, but they were not for nothing, angry or violent: here, what struck me is that there had not been a violent reaction to disappointment, but rather, there had been only an indignant rejection of what had been experienced as an injustice.
The thing then went on, the professor incredibly reacted with irony as well- although with much less effectiveness than Faiah and certainly without spontaneity – and there were two dissing of the professor (here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=618159402326741 and here https:/www.facebook.com/watch/?v=532273160970433) and one from Faiah who, with her direct and uncompromising style, knocks him down and closes the matter with sarcastic “apologies” (here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1023366268030368 or here https://www.instagram.com/p/B6vKA2QIZWC/).
So I started to follow Faiah’s stories on social media, I “entered” into her life, which she serenely posts every day, turning everyday life into funny anecdotes, in music, saying and doing what passes through her mind without filters. I “lived” with her reactions during lockdown and quarantine last year, the dissing “stay home”, “quarantine part 2” and “forgive them” (here https://www.instagram.com/p/B9efqvsoCLx/ and here https://www.instagram.com/p/B9mMwb5oSAj/ and here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=634416697117058): a beautiful, not depressive, intelligent reaction of “internal” movement. And I followed her dynamics with friends and family, also very interesting here, because the family of Faiah must be told, as a beautiful example of successful integration: her father, Egyptian and Muslim, but also her brother, full of irony, respect and pride for their daughter/sister, they are so far from the stereotype of the Muslim-fundamentalist-hater of women. Her mother (Italian), she too, needless to say, ironic, is a highly accomplished teacher, with a precise identity respected by her husband and is certainly not “submissive”. Her father and mother seem to have been able to live and to make their children live that cultural “fusion” unfortunately sometimes not at all obvious, which appears for what it is, and it must be: normal. So normal that it seems almost useless to think of something that is obvious. Because it’s true, it’s obvious, it’s evident and it’s very beautiful. And their lives tell it well.
But the most beautiful thing I want to talk about Faiah is another one, and I’m only going to do that because she made it public. Recently, after being hospitalized and having had terrible news (diagnosis of degenerative disease), to which she reacted with courage and grit and her usual self-irony, Faiah also got covid (luckily asymptomatic) and had to stay in isolation, even on New Year’s Eve, by the way. She could have collapsed, it could have been the drop that broke the camel’s back, already full of a heavy burden, even if carried lightly. And instead, every day, all day, it was a continuous of funny stories, ballets and improvised disco, anecdotes about her life locked in her room, the absurdities of the medical bureaucracy, the misfortune that persecutes her… I’m sorry I don’t have links to share to see with your own eyes this girl’s ability to react, but I had to tell you, because she’s a really cool example of endurance, of vitality; she doesn’t cancel her problems, she doesn’t find shortcuts, no: she lives the problem it its full, she plays it down and shares it, and she serenely says, “M’agg cagat u cazz” (“I’m fucking sick of it”), she creates her “Opera”(https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17922773195091371/), to pass the time, and also to say what she thinks, without anger, to those who did not get vaccinated and put her at risk. She gets rid of the heaviness, makes it bearable and turns it into beauty. Great Faiah!
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article