Thanks for Waking me Up by Zafer Sabbah, Palestine

It was the summer, and I had spent the night studying for my last math exam the next morning. It was a very hard time. I was very stressed and a strange, ominous feeling surrounding me.

I was a student in the ninth grade, which is also called the third preparatory class. That year, there was a new system imposed on us. It would last only for one year, and then it would be canceled. It stated that students in my level should progress to what was called the “final basic school exam”, meaning we have to pass the subjects of the year in one week to go on to the next stage of secondary school. After this, we would go on to pass the high school final exam.

I spent most of the night preparing for that next day. My family stayed with me for a while until we all fell asleep. The next morning no one woke up. Students went to the school, which was a ten-minute walk away from my home. Examinations halls had been prepared, and strange examiners were ready to close the doors at eight. Everyone was there except for me.

The examination was about to start, and no one was allowed to enter after the examination began. My friend Mohammad, who is still my friend (I am proud of that), was the only one who noticed my absence. At that time, there were no communication devices like cell phones to check where I was and what was going on. He ran to the director and asked him to wait a bit longer before the start of the examination, telling him that I was a good student and that maybe I will show up at any moment. The result was not guaranteed, and the director did not respond.

The door of heaven was open. I think that was one of the times when luck smiled down on me. One of the invigilators was standing nearby listening to the dialogue between my friend and the director. He jumped in the middle and asked the director to allow him to come to my home and pick me up. It wasn’t easy to convince the director, who responded cautiously, but all of these actions happened rapidly while I was still in my dreams.

I was so tired that night. When my friend Mohammad arrived at my home, he started knocking on our ground apartment’s metal door. We didn’t have a doorbell at that time, and I still remember my mother’s face when she woke me up. She didn’t want to scare her kid, I mean me, but I could understand the fear behind her eyes. I still remember my sisters running with sleepy faces trying to do something to make up for my lateness, about to collide face to face. Meanwhile, my friend was waiting outside to tell me his famous sentence “what were you doing until now stupid?”.

We stepped into the teacher’s car, who I didn’t know, and he drove us to school. I was sitting in the back seat trying to realize the odd situation that I was in. It was a funny and strange view that I saw. When the car entered the schoolyard, as I remained sitting in the back seat like a diplomat. My colleagues were peeking through the windows, controllers were standing in front of their examination rooms, and the director was waiting with a group of people in the yard. Many eyes gazed at me, and I wasn’t able to interpret their stares.

I entered the examination room to start my exam, and I could barely concentrate. I was busy staring out at the surroundings. I felt like I was still dreaming. I put my head between my shoulders and started laughing. Was this really true? 

I finished my exam. It was a hard one because I hate math. I did not know the name of the teacher who saved me with my friend, but I would never forget his face. Many years later I met him by accident. He didn’t recognize me until I introduced myself and reminded him of the incident. He said, “I heard that dialogue and decided that I must bring that boy”.

I will never forget the virtue of that great person, and his name is also Mohammad. Let this story be part of my thanks to my friend and to him.

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