Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1140, 21 - 27 March 2013
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1140, 21 - 27 March 2013

Ahram Weekly

Limelight: March madness

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Al-Ahram Weekly

“It comes like a lion and leaves like a lamb”, so they say!  March is that warlike, fiery month that sweeps away the winter cold and heralds in the gentle season—Spring, season of rebirth, hope and great expectations!  Yet March has lost its fire and fury, and Spring has lost its rosiness and reverie.
Are the trees turning green; are the buds beginning to appear; are the hibernating animals returning to their homes; are the birds singing their sweetest songs; are young lovers courting and dreaming; is there music in the balmy air? Do you see it, hear it, feel  it?   Still, Spring is here, so they say!
Since the uprising of the people for freedom and justice in the Arab world, Spring has lost its meaning, its promise, its message of revival and renewal.  How shallow, how humiliating life has become!  We are left at the height of our solitude with only our dreams as companions.  We indulge in those beautiful dreams of the glorious life to come soon.  There is one simple question to ask,if we do nothing but dream, who is to make it glorious?
The Arab Spring has become one of those historic deceptions in Egypt and elsewhere. Our dreams gasp for breath as they lie broken, unfulfilled, fading and dying. And what is life itself if we lose our ability to dream.  As we cross through this tunnel of darkness we can almost see the light, but our engines have stalled, our feet are chained and our sight grows dimmer. The light at the end of the tunnel may still be there, but how do we reach it?
Let us therefore seek other aspects of March to celebrate. One thing to celebrate is March Madness. Although it is now mostly associated with US College Basket since 1939, the term originated with the mating of rabbits and hares and other living creatures in the early Spring hence the expression “mad as a March hare”.
March was named after the Roman god of war, Mars.  In ancient Roman mythology Mars was considered the father of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.  Originally the first month of the year before Julius Caesar meddled with the calendar Mars is also famous for his love affair with the Roman goddess of love, Venus. March 21st is the date of the vernal equinox when night and day are equal in length, because the sun is directly over the equator. The famous ‘ides’ in ancient Rome was a day in the middle of each month, the 13th of all months except for March, May, July and October, which was the 15th. “Beware the Ides of March” cried the soothsayer to Julius Caesar, meaning the 15th Caesar did not heed him and fell victim to the daggers thrust by his nearest and dearest. Superstitions still persist making March mystifying and menacing.
In Egypt March redeems itself with the celebration of Mother’s Day which falls on the 1st day of Spring.  The idea and the date were developed by journalist Ali Amin in 1956, co-founder of Akhbar El Yom publications, and not that of Mustafa Amin his twin brother, as is habitually reported..  It is a perfect date to honour mothers, with the advent of Spring and the rebirth of the Earth.
The US was the first country to initiate Mother’s Day almost 100 years ago, after a tireless 7-year campaign by school- teacher Ann Jarvis. Finally on May 9th (death anniversary of Ann’s mother), 1914, d the 2nd Sunday in May was proclaimed national observance day for mothers. The British had long paid tribute to mothers on the 4th Sunday of Lent, which of course falls in Spring, known as ‘Mothering Sunday’, but it was the American observance that gave the idea worldwide prominence.  Now every country honours mothers on its own special day.
 Today, while millions of bouquets, perfumes, cards and gifts will be showered on mothers throughout the land, can we help but shed a tear for those children without mothers, and a torrent of tears for the mothers of those fallen victims to the Arab Spring.  Did those noble heroes give up their lives for liberty and justice, or for nothing?  Liberty never hurt anyone except tyrants and slave-drivers. Give us this Mother’s day strong wings to soar like eagles, not ostrich wings to help us run faster, away from the truth.
Lost in a maze of a quasi Spring and a quasi Democracy our youth are no longer young.  They are pulled towards an unknown destiny, as their bright light turns to blinding darkness and their cheerful hope to frantic despair,
A complex, contradictory, turbulent month filled with blowing blustery winds, angry stormy clouds, hot dusty days and cool star-studded nights.  Beautifully scented breezes float through the air, remind us of the joys that could soon be ours.  Cupid is kept busy as early songbirds serenade young lovers. Indifferent to the feast Earth lays before, we move in vague anxiety unable to partake of its bounty. Could we? Should we?
On the first day of Spring Earth may shine beneath the Sun’s golden rays, but there is no song in my heart.  It feels more like a sad day in mid-Autumn!  Everything seems so strange, so unfamiliar, so lonely!
Spring is here, they say! We have encountered the lion and he was fierce, now we stoically await the arrival of the lamb!
“Everywhere I see bliss,
from which I alone am irrevocably excluded”                                                  
                                                               Mary Shelley  (1787- 1851)

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