Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm Home - February 2008

I wasn't minding my business, for this was my business, more than my business... February 5, 2008... my graduation night... To be more precise, this was the morning rehearsal in Ewart Hall for the events that were supposed to take place that night... I was number 3 on the list so I was among the first to enter Ewart Hall accompanied by the Graduation March... We entered the Hall in one long procession... and in the background the March was beautifully and loudly played... I concentrate on respecting the steps of the ushers in front, and then I just lose track of all this and melt in the ceremony with all my heart... This was the moment I was waiting for, for so long... I almost didn't graduate on time but Alhamdulilah I managed by a sheer miracle to complete my thesis... Alhamdulilah... And all of a sudden just as I was approaching the stage I felt the tears swelling in my eyes. I never thought it would be that emotional, but it was. I don't know what exactly brought this about, but I guess it was a mixture of relief, nostalgia, awe... I don't know, but I was just overwhelmed with emotion... I allowed myself to let it out but then I had to control that feeling, can't afford to be a weeping old lady in the midst of the predominantly young graduates. I manage to settle down. Then I saw the Registrar... Khambeez (Amira K)had told me that she wanted to meet her urgently and I offered to go with her; so seeing her now, I thought this is a good chance to break the ice. I left my chair and went to remind her of myself when I used to work in the Registrar Office 30 years ago as a student assistant. The lady diplomatically told me she remembered me. Good start... I immediately sms Khambeez to tell her that I met her, she tells me that by sheer coincidence she was on her way to AUC so we agree to meet later. What a lovely coincidence, and at the same time ironic that Khambeez and I would meet here at AUC today... The last time this happened was back in June 1980... I try to concentrate on the rehearsal but I start drifting... I sink in deep thought and go back to that day 28 years ago, and remember how fellow PSSians Khambeez, Dino, Nanny (Hanan N), Monga (Mona G) and I were walking down that very same aisle on our undergraduate graduation night from AUC, dressed in our black graduation gowns and caps... and Daks (Dina D) who graduated one semester before us, was up in the balcony cheering us on with Karim B... We, the graduates of Class of June 1980, all knew each other and we were carefree, laughing and joking in our rehearsal and graduation night. The voice of the lady on the stage snaps me out of my reverie as she starts giving us instructions on when to stand, when to sit, when to bow... I look around me and think: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I hardly know anyone in this graduating class of February 2008, except the 2 guys on my right and the girl on my left from the Economics department... I feel like a stranger... as if I don't belong in my own home... For I always felt that AUC was like a second home... I feel uneasy... I can't do this on my own... I need my family and friends to help me through this... But there's this problem of invitations... We're only given 4 invitations for our guests! FOUR INVITATIONS?!! This meant that these invitations would only be sufficient for Hussein and the kids, and that my parents won't be able to come... I couldn't do this to my parents, especially my father... What a fix! So I decide to be bold and go to the Provost Office and DEMAND invitations... and guess what? They give them some! Getting those invitations was a Godsend and I eagerly tell my parents and family that they can ALL come... But I miraculously still have extra invitations (or is it baraka?)... and my mind drifts back to that night of June 1980 with my old classmates... I know it's too short a notice; it's after 11 a.m. and the commencement starts today at 6 p.m. and the doors close at 5:15, and already there's so little time... but it's a chance I want to take. I frantically sms/call my friends... My Dubai friends promised to do their very best to come; Daks and Khambeez immediately agree. Good friends are always good... Unfortunately I had an old number for Nanny and couldn't get through to her on time and Monga was stuck at work and was very upset she couldn't make it... Ma3lish... At least my family, friends and old troopers Daks and Khambeez, would be there... I'll be OK... It's exactly 6 p.m. and we enter Ewart Hall accompanied by the sound of the Graduation March... And it's an indescribable feeling, I see my family, my son Karim and my Dubai friends and I'm overwhelmed with emotions... The tears flow and I can't control them... Then I look at the upper balcony and see my kids Farida, Omar, my brother Youssef, Daks and Khambeez and they're waving and cheering... I breathe deeply and control my tears... Just then I glimpse Dr. Adel Beshai, the Economics professor who graciously accepted my request to complete my M.A. after such a long pause, and our dear PSSian and '76 classmate Naila H entering the Hall along with the rest of the AUC academics. Although some close family and friends couldn't attend, I was so happy to have these dear people who managed to come at the n-th hour share this special moment with me... I don't feel like a stranger anymore... I'm home... Alhamdulilah...

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