Emir saw the trip as the perfect opportunity to cap a year of hard work on his
research. He had spent so much time studying the volcanic activity of Mount
Kilisaro in Indonesia via the computer and other sources that to actually go
there and see it for himself would be wonderful. Furthermore, it was a trip that
he would never be able to make on his own. The money involved was too much for
his working-class family. The state-of-the-art equipment that would be brought
along by the university team was beyond his means. He was only a research
student on a scholarship to one of the most prestigious universities in the
He knew that being selected for this trip would be a feather in his
cap. His family would be so pleased at his progress in the university and he
would also come closer to realising his dream of being a geophysicist upon his
graduation. He wanted so much to work alongside experts in studying how the
Earth came about and the physical processes that continued to affect it. Emir
thought about his family still living in a one-room flat, eking out a miserable
living each day on the streets. He resolved to be a success so that they would
be able to afford more than just salted fish with their rice for each meal. Emir
brushed away the tears on his cheeks and proceeded to write out his application.
The results of the application for the trip would be announced that morning.
Emir strode quickly to the notice board outside the hall where the list would be
put up. He knew that he had a very good chance of getting into the team. After
all, he was consistently getting good grades in his studies and had been working
hard with Professor Lambert on the project. He was also physically fit and would
be able to handle the steep ascent of the mountain. In fact, he met all the
criteria listed on the poster. Tom hastened his feet to move faster as the
blustery weather swirled into the holes of the thin jacket he was wearing.
The shock that he felt as he searched frantically for his name on the list
numbed him. He could not believe it. Even the usually
frivolous and lazy Mary had made it to the team. Emir could not
understand it. Why was he not selected? He ran down the corridors to Professor
Lambert's office. Once there, he saw the wizened old man bent over some rock
samples. Emir's heart constricted tightly in
affection for the fatherly professor. Professor Lambert had been a wonderful
mentor to him since he joined the university. He had made sure that Emir
received the best of his knowledge regarding geophysics, treating him like the
son that he never had.
Suddenly, it struck him that the list of people selected for the trip had one
thing in common - they were all wealthy! Emir realised why he was not selected.
Resentment and anger at the unfairness of it all gripped him and he punched the
wall with his clenched fist. Professor Lambert turned around and looked at him.
Quietly, he told Emir, "I'm not going either." With that, he smiled and went
back to his work. But the feeling of great disappointment still tore at him,
making him rail inwardly against the unfairness of the whole thing. Why did they
not choose on merit?
The day of the trip came and went. Emir walked around the campus like an
apparition, oblivious to everything around
him. The disappointment still gnawed at him like an ulcerous sore refusing to
heal. Suddenly, he realised the commotion around him. People were running
hastily towards the student's lounge. He quickly followed. There, all eyes were
focussed on the television news bulletin. The shock at what he saw rooted him to
the ground. He could not think straight, except for the same sentence that
repeated itself in his mind. "Thank goodness I'm here! Thank goodness I'm here!"
He would never forget the sight of the research team sprawled all over the
mountainside as rescuers worked to free their dead bodies from the landslide
that left no survivors.