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I Did Not Miss the Train

by Fatima Hairane

At a Municipal Court in Ohio, I was very excited to finally become one of the many new citizens of the United States, just like my two fortunate daughters that were born here in the USA, where they had the right to a great education and a better life, a life supported by human rights.

One of these rights that was most important to me was the right to education, but that was not within my grasp, because where I came from girls were destined to get married, have children, and serve their husbands. Unfortunately for me, I missed my chance for education. However, I made it my mission to make sure that my daughters have the best education possible as long as I live.

While I was waiting for the judge to arrive at the courtroom, my memory took me back to my childhood when the word “judge” was a bad omen, because he can send you to jail or condemn you to death. I knew that would not happen to me, but still I was terrified that he might instead deny me citizenship or worse, deport me back to the country where I came from.

When the judge entered the courtroom, he started to call the people by their names, one at a time. While I was waiting, my heart was pounding so fast that I thought I was going to faint. “Oh no,” I whispered in silence, thinking the worst of course.

He yelled my name: “Fatima!” I stood up stiff like a log, staring at him with teary eyes begging for good news. “Why would you want to become a U.S. citizen?” he asked.

With a sigh of relief, I answered. “Well, sir. Where I came from education was not achievable because everyone had only one chance to pass the exam; so, if you failed once, then you missed your train, sir.”

At that moment, my tears made it all the way down with a splash on my shoes. Then, I raised my head to finally face my judgment. Surprisingly, I saw the judge smiling; then he said, looking at me, “I want you to know that in the USA you will never miss the train, because you can catch it as many times as you wish!”

After that day, I made sure to go back to school to get an education to better myself, starting with getting my high school diploma and then my college degree. Also, one of my daughters is a doctor now, and the other is studying to become a history professor. After all, not only I didn’t miss the train, but I had the best ride I could ever have dreamed of.

Author’s Note: My name is Fatima. I was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. I came to the United States in May 1992 and I have been living here ever since.