Al-Ahram Weekly Online   14 - 20 August 2008
Issue No. 910
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Mursi Saad El-Din

Plain talk

By Mursi Saad El-Din

It is five years since Hosny Guindy departed, leaving behind a treasury of memories that glitter like gold, five years of remembrance that became more acute as each one passed. Whoever said that time is the great healer and that memories fade with the passing of years?

My memories of Hosny Guindy are happy ones. My son Hamdy and his daughter Menna were close friends of Hosny, his wife Moushira and his daughter Yasmeen. For decades we lived in the same block of flats. Yasmeen, like my grand daughter Menna used to, and still does, call me Geddi (grandpa) and called my wife, until her recent death, Anna (grandma).

I have sweet memories of the time the two families spent together, at the Heliopolis Club where Yasmeen and Menna never left the swimming pool, and in Hosny's home, one floor above ours. I remember the pleasant evenings we spent in Hosny's flat, which became a symbol of our close friendship. For five years since Hosny's death I avoided the flat. I couldn't think about it without Hosny. Then when my wife passed away I found myself, almost automatically climbing the stairs and ringing the doorbell. In my grief I sought the company of a friend with whom I could share my sorrow. We were both united in mourning and in remembrance.

While I think of Hosny much of the time there are moments when the memories are more acute. With the approach of Ramadan I recall the large coloured lamp which stood at the entrance of Al-Ahram Weekly. I also look back with nostalgia to the lighted Christmas tree which took the place of the Ramadan lamp, with the dangling presents which we exchanged with one another. I still remember how at Hosny's instigation we celebrated the birthdays of Weekly staff. Those were rituals which Hosny created. A family atmosphere prevailed under the paternal wing of Hosny. Even to me, decades older than him, he was a father figure offering love and care.

Hosny Guindy had two battles to fight during his lifetime, and he fought them both with gusto: the battle of his illness and the battle of work. In the former he tried to stem the creeping ailment. He bore it stoically and gallantly. How many a crisis he had to fight against. With tenacity and will power he managed to pull through and come out of them, somewhat enfeebled, but still ticking with life. Yet eventually the frail body became even frailer and was drained of stamina. Resistance waned and finally he succumbed and fell like a soldier in battle.

There was, however, another battle which Hosny won with flying colours. It was the battle of the Weekly, which he called "my baby". The Weekly was the brainchild of Hosny and he watched it grow day after day. He tended it like a horticulturist tending a rose tree, whose seeds he had sown, watching as it branched out producing roses of different colours. I feel proud that I was with him from the start to see him win this battle against all odds.

Hosny Guindy's Al-Ahram Weekly was more than just a newspaper. It was a school, an institution, a solid memorial to a great fighter who was able to make a dream come true.

Hosny was always modest. No blowing of his trumpet, no patronising attitudes. He created what I would call management with love. Hosny was all love and kindness. I, like all my colleagues, miss him. We miss his smile, the paternal pat on the back, his saintly aura.

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