I had an exam for one of the major chemistry subjects, the exam was at nine in the morning. I had missed this lecture three times because of the roads and the barriers during the second intifada. So I decided to leave the house at 6am to get the exam. After hours of traveling through rugged secondary roads, we got through a ‘wade alnar’. This is the only way to reach the south of the West Bank, the center and the north were paved at the expense of the US Development Agency. There were queues of cars and suffocating crisis, everyone was waiting, everybody was anxious, everyone felt this way when they were trying to get to their destination.
I was a passenger in a car of 7, as soon as someone started talking, everyone began to tell their story. Where is he going? What will happen to him if he does not arrive on schedule? Sometimes my attention was drawn to their stories, sometimes I thought about the exam and what would happen to me, I was afraid, time passed, anxiety and tension were evident on my face. I was sitting next to a girl named Nour, who is a fifth year medical student, she was also going to take an exam, but fortunately it started at one o’clock, so her nerves were controlled, she was quiet and less tense than I was. She told me not to worry and we’ll get there in time, just smile. Suddenly, the cars began to move. Everyone thought the road was opened because the soldiers at the checkpoint allowed vehicles coming from the other side to cross, but what happened was the opposite of the expectation. When we got halfway to the military Jeeps, we started moving quickly and they began to stop cars and prevent them from crossing. There has been a crisis in both directions. The road was closed because of overcrowding, people began to get out of the cars because the owners decided to turn back. The soldiers would not allow us to cross and ordered us to go back. We tried more than once, but they did not understand how we were feeling at those moments. Then, we saw people climb the mountain, on the top of the mountain is the town of Sawahra, near the town of Abu Dis. So I decided to catch up with them, Nour and I started walking. Suddenly, the soldiers noticed and started shooting. We hid behind a large rock, bullets were passing over our heads. I could not control my nerves and began to cry and scream. There was no hope of reaching the exam hall, death was all I could think of in that moment.
We hid behind the rock for about half an hour, until the soldiers left, by then everyone had returned to where they came from and all the cars had left. We continued on our way, walking from between the houses, the people were helping us and warning us if a military Jeep was coming. Finally, I arrived at the University, it was noon. I do not want to describe my feelings. My black hair had become white from dust. My shoes and clothes also covered in dust. I cannot describe my anger, my fear, my pain.
I met my colleagues and they started asking me where I was? Why are you late? The professor has decided to deprive you of the material for this semester. I began to feel dizzy and lost consciousness. I went to the professor’s office, many of my colleagues accompanied me to talk with the professor, perhaps to help make him back down from his decision and to understand what happened to me on the at the checkpoint.
When I entered his office he got up and said, “I am busy now”. “Professor, please, I have to talk to you, I want you to understand, will you give me the exam?”. He told me the exam had ended and that he did not want to “hear any excuses or justifications”. He closed the door of his office and left, I ran behind him down the corridor. I begged him to understand, and give me another chance. “I will not graduate with my colleagues, Professor, please listen to me…”, but he did not pay any attention to me.
I felt a volcano inside me, “I did not want to be late, but what happened to me, it has also happened to you and to everyone on this earth, at every moment, as long as these barriers control our fate and our lives, as long as the occupation exists”.
I shouted with a loud voice, “How are you different from the soldier who is at this dreaded checkpoint, who prevented me from reaching and taking the exam, nothing … nothing. He robbed me of my freedom and now you are preventing me from seeing joy and the pride in the eyes of my mother and father, because I was late and now I will not graduate with my colleagues”.