Judith Barry | Cairo stories | Ayousha

…Cairo stories – Ayousha

Ayousha | Antiques in Khan el Khalili


My husband died, and they wanted his brother to take me as another wife. I didnʼt want that.

I didnʼt want to stay in Menia with my children, so I came to Cairo.
At first, I left my children back in my village, but now they are here with me.

I came here once before with my husband, to Khan el Khalili.
I always liked shoes…
My husband loved my feet…
He said they were beautiful.
We came to the bazaar and he bought me such beautiful shoes.

I took the microbus.
I left my children with my husbandʼs brother.
I didnʼt know anyone at first.

The lady from the antique shop helped me.
I think she was the first woman to work in Khan el Khalili.
Now she runs the whole shop.
I got a job working with a man, with a shoe stall, near her place.
She taught me how to act, “Never be immodest.
Donʼt be flirtatious.
Donʼt be too friendly with the other merchants, only for business.”
She has everyoneʼs respect.

There is an ancient table on display in the front of her shop. Itʼs very beautiful.
Old, worn, inscribed, covered in the many hours of peopleʼs lives that have used it.
I have never seen anything like it.
Many people have tried to copy this table, but of course they couldnʼt.
It never comes out right… always too new.

There is no way to make up for all the years of age.
I see that in her face too…
And, she is beautiful…