Saturday, 9 June 2012

With the death of Ra

On our last night in Cairo the small group of us climbed onto the roof of the hotel lobby to watch the sun set. Given our position on the west bank of the Nile on the outskirts of Giza we could see the silhouettes of the pyramids set against the glowing sky and stare in awe as the orange glow slipped over the horizon and faded into obscurity.

Staring as the sight, it wasn't difficult to place it in the context of history and take delight that for several millennia now people had watched as we'd just watched the sun complete its daily journey across the sky and slip over the western horizon. It was a natural occurrence  the earth travelling anti-clockwise signalling the end of the day, and the end of our holidays and return to normality. Just here, the scenery differed somewhat from the standard views we'd grown up with in the antipodes, the warm sun setting over the mass of Australia or over the Indian Ocean, its glimmering light offering the image of a stairway to heaven. It also differed dramatically from the cold greyness that many of us had become accustomed to living for so long in London.

As we currently stood, a group of youngsters enjoying the mid-term week off from our lives as teachers and professionals I did wonder how many of us were thinking about the stories we'd been told throughout the week: the division of the land into East and West, life and death along the undulating length of the river Nile. Where we stood now on the west bank looking towards the funeral monuments of the horizon, watching as the sun died a brilliant death, to be reborn behind us in the cool light of the tomorrow's dawn, it wasn't hard to see why the Pharaohs had chosen to be buried on the left bank. Why they had been so desirous of associating themselves with the sun, hoping and praying that like it's god Ra they too would be reborn as gods, continued in their worship by the populous below.

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