“I am the Siddhartha of Nuba,” said Yehia, and he instantly caught my attention. Siddhartha is a book my father had insisted over and over in me reading while I was a teenager. “I wish he was here,” I thought as Yehia kept narrating his 1,001 stories with a polished Spanish accent. He pulls out a book, written by an archeologist who experienced Yehia’s spiritual journey first-hand, and I read the first page. “This book started as an attempt to take my parents on a trip with me; to share the beauty and the experience of Egypt with them.” I get goosebumps. This is exactly what I wish I could do at every minute, especially when I meet such a special man named exactly as my father (Yehia in Spanish translates as Juan), who would certainly make an impact in his life.
Yehia’s house has three floors. Or perhaps they were two, but the labyrinth of stairs, internal courtyards, and cave-style rooms make is hard to pinpoint. Every sitting room (the house is filled with them) has a sandpit at the center, where a small tea table usually stands. On the top floor, locked in a species of well closed with a metal fence, there are three crocodiles. Big ones. Almost every Nubian house has some, as they consider them a bearer of luck.
“I wasn’t happy because I was constantly searching for something. My ambitions were too big for this small town,” says Yehia. The Nubian musician left for Spain looking for the wealthy life, seeking for his art to thrive in a continent considered by many as paradise.
He danced at Madrid’s Opera, shared stage with shining stars, and at the end of the journey decided to come back to Garb Suheil, the small town deep in Southern Egypt that saw his birth. “In Spain, I enjoyed all pleasures, comforts and money, but I was still not happy. Now I am back to the village, the sand, and a tranquil life. I now have little and I am much happier. We spend our lives seeking the truth, but we don’t realize the truth is within us,” says the Sufi singer, whose spiritual path led him back to the start.