Reporting from Cairo—The questioner reads evenly from a script.
"Please give me your name and your age."
"My name is Sameh Eldesoky and I am 21 years old."
Eldesoky sits back, hands on his knees, trying to relax, trying to forget that a tiny microphone is clamped to the front of his shirt.
FOR THE RECORD:
Egypt archiving: An article in the July 7 Section A about archiving Egypt's revolution misspelled the last name of American University in Cairo anthropologist Hania Sholkamy as Sholkawy. —
"When and how did you first hear about the demonstrations of Jan. 25?"
"Through Facebook and friends."
"Had you been involved in demonstrations before or political organizing?" asks the interviewer, a young woman with a soft, soothing voice.
"I tried to do, but all my trying failed," he says, giving a quick, nervous laugh. "I always saw demonstrations in Tahrir Square. But for me to join it was so hard — they always have these soldiers around them and they always push you out or take you to jail."
He rushes to add, "That never happened — they never took me to jail before."
The young woman scrutinizes him, her face impassive.
"Tell me more about your involvement in the January events — how it started, what you have been doing, what you have witnessed. Tell me more," she says.
Had the revolution not succeeded, this might be a police interrogation. But President Hosni Mubarak has been ousted and his police state is gone, at least for now, and protesters like Eldesoky are voluntarily recounting their stories to help document the uprising.
Timeline: Revolution in Egypt
Some have discovered that the act of recording history as it unfolds in a country where the future is still a question mark is as fraught with tension and risk as the revolution itself.
Eldesoky gestures for his interviewer, recreating the now famous scenes in Tahrir Square: police encircling protesters, beating them with batons, firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. After police struck him repeatedly on the right shoulder, he says, he fashioned a makeshift torch out of a lighter and bug spray to defend himself.
"There were so many and they don't talk, they just hit," he says as he sits in a glass recording booth, rubbing his shoulder and wrestling with a recent memory that already seems long ago.