The papers had been waiting patiently in my bag since the morning.
Trapped in the post-examination time-out session, I pulled out the blue file and began to read.
Behind me, I could hear the chaos of question-reviewing.
“It was A!”
And other bits and pieces regarding the perineal body, enteroccous species, and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. But with a few words, I became disconnected from my surroundings.
I was far, far away. And I was much more than just a spectator: I was sitting cross-legged listening to the Friday sermon myself, admiring the exquisite design of the pillars of the mosque myself, and I too met the Sheikh who had a white beard borrowed from the clouds. He was just one of those people you feel comfortable with upon first encounter, and I took a piece of his silent wisdom with me forever.
They were in Amman… they were in a small, cramped-up, dull room.. some revising mistakes, some gloating over their clever answers, and some adamantly making a case for why they put “All of the above”.
Meanwhile, I was in Madinah, where some were reading Quran, some standing in prayer, and some engulfed in prostration whispering supplication after supplication. I too was in the Prophet’s city , being torn apart, fighting the lump in my throat trying to say goodbye. I entered Rawdet Al-Jannah to pray two rak’ahs myself (although my recall of the experience was more traumatic, as the space was extremely limited and packed). I too, left in unbearable tears.
They were still in Amman. Still arguing that the correct answer was “C” without doubt.
I continued on to reach Meccah; reliving my countless visits there. I could feel the cold, white tiles underneath my feet. There I was, circling around the Ka’ba, the only place where one walks in circles out of unity and not out of confusion or lack of direction or purpose. Then my eyes fell upon the black stone, our blessed connection to heaven, and I wondered whether I would be able to approach it up close. Fortunately, everything was unfolding smoothly today, and I made my way through the crowds to greet the stone our Prophet once marked with his own lips.
My eyes had welled up with tears, my lips had parted many smiles, and my feet almost felt tired from all the walking…
Soon enough, it was time to be released from their custody (back in Amman) and leave that small room. I looked around and realized how detached I’d been while we were all waiting for our freedom.
Just as he pulled out the Siwak from his pocket, I pulled out those papers from my bag.
For there are memoirs that can take you away… small, unexpected objects, that allow you to peacefully disconnect-to enter another time, another place, another state of mind.