I have to admit I was nervous. We were being led away from Tahrir Square by the sounds of tear gas and buckshot. We could see plumes of smoke wafting into the air on the other side of the square. We knew where we had to go, Simon Bolivar Square. The square was named after the Venezuelan revolutionary who defied the British, but on that night, was home to the Egyptian revolution.
When we first arrived on the street, we took a moment to let it all sink in. Divided by gas, the police were hard to make out in the distance but closer to us, were the revolutionaries. I rummaged through my bag to find my keffiyeh to wrap around my face. Armed with only my camera and a scarf to stop me from breathing in tear gas, I rushed down into the thick of it.
Green laser pointers shot through the sky, pinpointing canisters of tear gas as they flew through the air. The revolutionaries knew how to act as a unit. They protected each other, washed each others eyes out and carried each other out of harm’s way when they’d had too much. Some would rush forward to grab the spewing canisters to hurl back at the police. Out of the smoke, ran a young boy with safety goggles. He walked straight up to me, reached under the collar of his white t-shirt and pulled out a gold chain. He brought the chain to his lips, kissed it and told me that he was the original gangster. I quickly snapped his photo and just like that, he was off, swallowed by the surrounding chaos.
As I drove home that night, to sit in my bed and pour over my photos, I thought of him. I thought about how in just a few short hours I would be waking up to go to work at my school and he’d probably still be on the street, fighting for the semblance of a direction in a directionless country.