Last week, on Friday to be specific, was my birthday.
I'm known for my big parties. Every year I have a theme. For my 21st , it was Ice-cream and people dressed according to their favorite ice-cream flavor and last year, it was called Toub Chiffoun and White Jalabeya and I wore a colorful toub.
If you know me, you would think I'm always happy, an eternal optimist they call me. But, I was so down on my birthday, I wasn't planning on leaving the house to be honest. I ignored messages and phone calls until a friend kidnapped me from my house at just after 6 p.m.
I turned 23 last week. I was born exactly 29 days before the coup. In total, only 29 days in my whole life were under a democratic rule.
My birthday festival continued, thanks to my wonderful friends, they showered me with gifts, bought me nutella and organized a boat party for me. I'm grateful for having them in my life. I'm grateful that in 2012, although my grandfather passed away, my mother's health has been good so far. I'm grateful for that.
At a friend's house, between sips of grape juice and eating fries, we talked about the lack of men in Sudan. It seems that many guys we know have left Sudan in the last two years or so.
One of my good friends called from Dubai to say happy birthday. Another friend also called and texted, he left Sudan in 2009.
Cousins have left for the gulf, others are looking for jobs abroad. They all want out.
Its not only men. It seems that people are leaving Sudan…… Its as if we are in the early 1990s , a time when my parents and all their friends left Sudan. We lived in Egypt in 1991-1993, hoping to end up in Canada. The procedure was going very well until my father voted against it. "I don't want my girls to become Canadian, I want them to remain Sudanese," he told my mother.
We remained Sudanese and we moved back to Sudan.
In early April, I was walking to Jackson with my friend who is also a journalist. She told she was laid off work. A few days later, my editor told me that they can't afford my section anymore. I made $100 a month writing and editing the english section on a weekly basis.
I had another job, so it wasn't such a severe blow. Over the weeks, my other journalist friends were getting laid off, some were quitting.
"The work environment is so unhealthy", told me one friend.
They all want to leave Sudan. Their lives have stopped. Some have security problems and can't find another job, some want to runaway to save their marriages and lives. Some have given up on Sudan. It is hard to remain hopeful for more than…23 years.