Nathalie Khankan

The Banality of Suffering

Is it looking at my own students at Birzeit University that reminds me of my old English teacher John S.? Every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:10 pm, and ten minutes before the end of class, they are all restless in their chairs, eager to continue their day without me. I do not take it personally. I feel their energy. But I do remember John fondly. I recall his ability to last throughout the lesson and to end it with a virtual cliffhanger. Not all, but some of us would just be sitting there, nailed to our chairs, as the bell rang and other students began chatting, doors opening, noise everywhere. And, in the midst of clatter and laughter, John’s last sentence would linger in the air. His cliffhanger.