I met Iboni at the Global Oncology Summit in Geneva in 2005.
Everything about Iboni had a fine edge: her naked shoulder blades above a scoop-backed blue satin gown; her nose and chin in profile; and, when she turned to meet me, her thin-lipped smile and Queen’s English. A turquoise snake pendant coiled in the little hollow at the top of her breastbone.
Iboni was Egyptian, educated in the UK, her father imprisoned in some hellhole outside Cairo.
We talked of the Nile and its cataracts, of Akhenaten and the lost city of Amarna.
She touched my arm. “Thank you for not mentioning King Tut,” she said.
Iboni sat across the table from me at dinner, a candelabrum forcing me to watch her flirt with a handsome German doctor through flickering flames.
“Iraq,” someone said.
“Bush,” said the German, fire dancing in his glasses.
“America,” said Iboni.
Accusations swirled around the table.
“Imperialists,” hissed Iboni.
I dropped my fourchette into my moules provençales and stood. I leaned forward, my fists on the table.
Iboni glowered at me, her aquiline face immobile, her black eyes burning like oil slicks.
I stalked out of the ballroom, through the lobby onto the Quai du Mont-Blanc to stare at the choppy black waters of Lake Geneva.
Years later, I am watching the video feed from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The revolutionaries show the scorched tear gas shells stamped Made in the USA and I remember Iboni’s ebony eyes.