Hey child, why do you smoke?

Bayumi is well known in Dahab - he is the only child allowed to smoke and drink in public, and well known by the police of Dahab and Suez. Why? Because although his look and voice is that of a 9 year old, he is a man of 24 years - proven by his passport and ID-card.

by Roland Kissling

Where and when are you born?

I was born and grew up in El Ganaien, a small town near Suez. Its a very nice place, with a lot of palmtrees and green gardens.

Can you tell us about your family?

I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters. One of my brothers is currently serving in the army, one is a lawyer, and another one is attending a school for marketing. My father is already retired, he used to be sacristan in the mosque. My mother is still selling chicken on the local market.

What was the first time you discovered that you are different then other people around you?

This was when i was 20.

Really? You look like a young child, you didn't notice until 20?

No. I went to school, until the 5th level - but then this accident happened. We had a big bowl on the oven, with very hot water, and some chemicals inside for washing clothes. My father and my older brother had a big fight, and my brother kicked the big pot by accident. The boiling water fired all my body. We went to hospital immediately - and then it took me 3 years to recover from this happening.
Until now my brother and me we didn't like each other, because of the happenings.

What did you do until now? Where did you live and work?

I worked for 5 years as a helper on big trucks. After this i came to Dahab. Its not easy in Suez, because its a harbour town. They need strong men there, who can carry heavy weights. So they said to me: "Sorry, you are not strong enough"

Why do you like Dahab?

Because its a very nice and relaxed town. I feel good here. And I like to make photographs from the nature - its a good place for this as well.

You look like a child, but your age is that of a man. Do you feel more child or man?

Stupid question, inside i feel like a man - never like a child.
Sometimes when I stay with my friends, I feel even bigger then a man. For example when I have a problem in my life, I first thinkdeeply about it, and how i can solve it. Not with a quick fight, but with gentleness and consideration.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to find a good job, and have a nice apartment, and marry later and have children. I want to live a life like all other people - and yes, I have also sexual desire.
I would like to leave egypt, to see more countries like Australia, Germany or Austria :-)
A lot of european people are very nice and friendly with me.

You say you want to marry. What are your experiences with woman?

I like to stay with women, and to joke with them. But until now, I never had sex with a woman. Just good talk. Sometimes I get very angry when I see that all my brothers and friends already got married. I am very happy for them. But in the evening after the wedding i closed my door and started to cry. My mother came to me and she spoke very nicely with me ... God made me like this, I have to be quiet.

If people on the street see you, they treat you like a child. How do you handle this?

Oh, its boring. All the time i have to explain about myself. When I smoke on the street, a lot of people come to me and say: "Hey boy, why do you smoke? Take away the cigarettes!" And then I always have to explain, that I am not a child. One day I was with my friends on a bridge in Suez, when a policeman came straight over to me. He took my cigarette and pushed me. Then I went directly to the major of the police in Suez and explained him all the story. He saw my passport with my birthday and heard all the story. Then he called the policemen directly and made him apologize to me. Since this time, all the policemen in Suez know me well, and now they are very friendly and greet me on the street.
In Dahab as well, all of them know me and are very friendly.

Did you ever visit a special doctor to ask for treatment about your symptoms?

Yes, when I was 20 - he told me that its already too late. He said: "If you come before, we could have given you some hormone injections, but now .." My father and my mother spent a lot of money for special treatments and doctors, until I said: Now it's enough, i want to live my own life.
I know other people like me - but they got the injections in time and they started to get bigger, and are all married now. Now they dont like me any more, because I remind them of their problem before.

Did you ever feel your actual condition as an advantage as well? For example, that people don't bother you so much?

No, never. Yes, the people are very friendly to me - egyptian people are in general very friendly with disabled people. When god loves some one, all the people love him too. The only good thing from the accident is: I cannot feel heat anymore, f.e. hot water or food on my fingers. And in the bus, none of the policemen talk to me, because its not allowed to talk rude to a small boy.

What was your funniest experience with other people?

One time, when I still was in Suez to help with the big trucks, my collegue told me to drive the truck a short way down the road. So i climbed inside and started the engine and went on.
But there was a woman standing next to me, who couldn't see me because i was so small - when she saw the truck starting and moving with no driver inside, she blacked out for some minutes. We had to care for her and explain the story - this was a funny day.

Thank you for the interview!

Afwan! (welcome!)

Interview by Roland Kissling
Interpreter: Emam Samy

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