The azza [funeral or wake, take your pick] at the Egyptian mosque was proceeding. People shook each other’s hands and wished each other an end to the days of their sorrows. The young men thanked the other youngsters for actually showing up. The men either wore dark suits or were casually dressed, and usually bearded or at least not clean shaven. Many looked agitated, with itchy trigger fingers on their holstered mobile phones. Others were sipping bitter coffee or tea, while some tried desperately to read the soothing verses of the Quran in the presence of the overly loud loudspeakers, where the Quran could also be heard. It was as if the words from one blotted out the words from the other.
A young man joined the entourage, sitting himself among the male mourners. At the mouth of the entrance, where they separated the men from the women, he could spy the families attending the ceremony. The women, while all dressed in black, were wearing their best. Their jewellery glittered, along with their handbags and the occasional gold or silver blotch on their otherwise dark attire. The ladies had also brought their daughters with them. Tall and slender, hair uncovered and groomed to perfection, cheeks rosy by nature. The black did nothing to daunt their enthusiasm.
They were chatting away with their girlfriends, no doubt trading fashion tips or the latest hit singles. The young onlooker was just happy they weren’t wearing any makeup. That’s when the idea occurred to him.
“Read all about it.” The newspaper boy screamed at the top of his lungs. He was holding a Cairo homeopape in his hand to show the passers-by. Headlines that materialised in real-time.
“The Marital Agency of Death,” he screamed again.
Somebody bought a paper and skimmed through the frontpage article:
From now on you won’t have to pay exorbitant fees to shady ‘pairing companies’ that never get you the candidates you’ve chosen for yourself, squeezing more and more money out of you along the way – underneath the table. Our agency will take you to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, where you can meet girls to your heart’s content.
From high society to the slummiest slums, everybody’s got to get buried, right? You’ll meet the girls, their friends and family, in the raw, without any of the usual lines they’ve got memorised for such unhappy occasions as trying to find a soul mate.
Buy stock options while they last. Keep track of our progress with the homeopapes. If we don’t fix the unusa [spinsterhood] problem in under a month you get your cash back, guaranteed.
Everybody’s counting on you. The fate of the nation hangs in the wings!
NB: Homeopape is a term borrowed from sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick.