Asmaa in Wonderland


I was not very happy with my height for a long time. There were occasions where I desperately wished I was taller than the girls I was surrounded by.

When I turned 18, I came to accept my height because I have been blessed with the five senses and a body that is free from any diseases, so it would be ungrateful to complain about my height. A few days ago, I was asked to cover the French national Chemistry Olympiad held at the Lycee Louis Massingon in Abu Dhabi. Finding the school was easy this time because my colleague Ayesha Al Khoori escorted me. Otherwise, who knows when I would get there.

When I arrived, one of the security guards asked me: Are you a student? I told him I was from The National and was there to cover the competition between students. When I entered the school, I suddenly empathised with Alice being short in Wonderland. The majority of the high school students were tall and looked older then their age. (They looked older than my age!) Many of them seemed lively, which reminded me of my school days.

This year's chemistry contest was to make aspirin. While walking to the laboratory to cover the competition, a few teachers and students offered me help to find my way back to class because they thought I was a lost student. At the laboratory, students seemed caught up in the three-hour competition, so I didn't want to bother them with interviews. I left the room and decided to wait in the play ground till they finished.

While waiting, I suddenly remembered my editor. She has been challenging me for the past few days to talk to expatriates. I thought why not take this opportunity to find some non-Emiratis and start a conversation. I walked and walked till I saw a few students sitting at the corner of the school. I made sure to smile while approaching them so that they would feel more receptive to talking to the one and only girl wearing an abaya.

I greeted the girls and could not figure out what to say next, so I spontaneously said: "Where is the cafeteria?" I wish I had asked a more important question. But it was a good start, I would say. The girls were adorable and talkative and we chatted for some time.

Then the time arrived for the real job. I was heading back to the laboratory and again the security guard asked me if I was a lost student. I told him I was not lost and did not bother to remind him I was a reporter at The National.  I realised no matter where I worked, the same question would be posed.

I picked three students to interview: two boys and a girl. One was Ahmed, a very tall 17-year-old Emirati from Al Ittihad Model School. Ahmed explained the process of making aspirin.

There was also another Emirati student at the competition whom I did not interview. But I told him that he resembled Einstein when I saw him holding the test tubes in his hands. He just laughed.

At the end of the day, I decided I could not care less about my height because I can fit into spaces others can't, I don't bump my head on things and If I fall down, I can get up easily because there is less distance to the ground. (Which means fewer people will notice.)   Amazing!

Think about the less fortunate and be grateful for all the blessings because life has so much to offer.

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