Short story: The eighth date

Today, I’ve found an old short-story of mine. I corrected the bigger mistakes and finished it. It was inspired by a religious flow that I experienced, contrasted to the society that is rather corrupting.



The eighth date

​I was always a good boy. Whether in the eyes of my parents, grandparents, or teachers, I was obedient. If my grandmother asked me to bring her a potato from the garage while I was watching my favorite cartoon, I jumped up right away and brought her a potato in duty without telling her “just a minute”, “just a minute” as long as the advertisings come. Another situation when my mother firstly said that she was overdone with making up my bed, whereupon I started to make my bed alone, moreover to take care of tiding my whole room. These two examples were nothing as compared to my obedience at school. If my teacher asked us to do or read an exercise; even so he only barely meant that, I was the first – and mostly the only one – who raised his hand feeling eager to answer. So the idea of being righteous sealed upon my childhood and afterwards became my life goal.

All I wanted to live straight. As a late- teenager, I became able to choose rationally my own decisions and I considered it my duty to go on the right path. One of my first big decisions that I started my studies in the field of justice in order to be a good judge, defending the right. However, the study proved itself difficult and demanded very much time from me, preparing myself for all the classes and passing the exams. My principles led me on a hard path; being a serious hardworker and avoiding dishonesties like cheating on exams. I was always tired at nights, but I was satisfied with my life daytime that was a brilliant recompense. While, my biggest decision of my life wasn’t a common decision like choosing profession, but it was some more special that I couldn’t succeed without. That was to accept the Islamic religion, trying to be a righteous Muslim.

The guidance of Islam fitted me well. Thanks to the religion I could forge a strong personality to reach my goals in a proper manner. In the beginning, being a Muslim obliged me to study dutifully, as about Islamic laws and wisdoms as about worldly sciences. And I did so, I booked religious books by heart in every single free moment. The more I studied, the more I felt the excellence of Islam that taught me the meaning of principle concepts such as humanity, modesty, and obedience toward the One God. It helped me to organize my daily life and come to good decision with doubtful questions in outside world as well as in my inner world. Islam was my right path to go on, it provided me the spiritual peace and balance of daily life. Although, my religion completed me, it wasn’t without pain to throw away worldly things for a better purpose day after day.

I was in war with myself. I had to say ‘No’ for many bad things even if some of them definitely looked good and unskippable for me. Sometimes I asked myself whether there’s anybody who can surmount the temptation of enjoyments like music, parties, or girls, but in these moments when my confidence was falling off, I always succeeded returning to Islam. The more seducing ugly things I saw, the more I knew that good and bad exist and I should follow the guidance of God in every little details for not to go astray. I prayed, gave charity and stood away from evil the most I could. Indeed, I even followed the smallest traditions like drinking in sitting position and eating seven pieces of dates with a glass of milk waking up every morning. I had never failed my precise daily course of duties, but one day…

A cloudy day that held an omen. That Monday was starting in the same routine; waking up, saying thank to God, and eating my eight dates, – Wait! – but something, beyond my understanding, was definitely different. I just realized that it was Monday, one of the two days of the week when I fasted – I shouldn’t eat. It confused me very much to commit such a stupid mistake that I had never done before. However, I had an easy excuse since it was the day before my final exam and I had been up studying all night. In my regret, I felt eager to compensate my childish self for this tricky accident and I had a good idea what to do. I always used to desired to have a lunch in the restaurant of the university, but the only free day that I had was Monday, my fasting day. When I arrived to the restaurant, I found a big mass of people there. I hunted and took a hidden, empty corner to take a seat. As I was waiting for the menu, mooning about the next day’s exam, I noticed that somebody had been standing before my table, asking me if the place was reserved. Directly, I said, ‘No, it isn’t’ and she took a seat. I realized that she was a girl and I tried to avoid looking at her, but in a sudden she screamed up saying my name with a surprised and joyful voice. She was one of my classmate, my crush. A voice in my head called me: -How come!- I am sitting with my crush in a narrow corner of a restaurant. ‘You should fly out of this situation as soon as possible’, said the inner voice inside me, and I was thinking smart about how to talk politely, but shortly being ready to leave. In that very moment when I was about to stand up, the waiter came and asked us what to order. I was shocked by the shame and said nothing, when she asked me if a complete plate would be enough for us, and I nodded. How to say no to that delighting smile of such pure creature like she is. We spent almost all day there, eating, talking and enjoying each other’s presence. She was the smartest and the purest girl of our class and she was the most attractive girl I had ever known. When we left the restaurant, it was raining and it was dark outside. I escorted her to the station, holding her hand, but saying no word. Arriving there I rested silent, watching into her eyes until the bus came. Then she, before getting on the bus, blowed a wind-like smooth kiss onto my face. Going back home, I ridiculously felt myself guilty and rejoiced in the same time with flames in my chest, butterflies in my belly, and thousand questions in my head. Finally, when I got home, I prayed silently my missed prayers and went to sleep directly since I felt my head heavy from the tons of information. What did I just do? What should I do? I should tell him we made a huge mistake. Or rather I should not talk to her at all… whether she was thinking about me like I am doing right now? No, she was thinking of a more important matter, the exam… Oh my God, the exam.

The morning, if I say it started badly, I didn’t express anything. I had been up all night with my clacking head and I had no mind when I fall asleep at all, or even when I woke up. A bad omen threw me out of the bed, that one which everybody feels being waking up late. I dressed up, prayed like a tornado and sprinted to have an exam. Thirty minutes late, when my professor opened the door and had a sight on me, he recoiled. Astonishment and disappointment drew on his face, and I saw that he really wanted to send me away, but then he turned away, letting me to enter. His look hurt me much as at that very moment as later on; the look that I didn’t deserve, the look that deserved somebody else who was absolutely not like me. Shortly speaking, I wasn’t ready to have an exam, I sat down, lent a pen – because I had forgotten it too in hurry -, then I started to study the exam paper. Or rather I was just looking at instead of reading it because my brain was out of order; neither thoughts, nor inspiration that might help me. I filled the page with something, not to say, I stole some ideas blinking at others’ paper, but it was a lost trial anyway, I failed. There might be no worse in my mind than seeing the failure of a life’s labour; however, I saw the girl that day sitting at the front, she ignored me. Literally, her playing was a devilish game.

I was empty, confused and I dare to say that out of control. I had neither further outlook, nor purpose in my life, the only thing I knew surely that I needed a rest. Therefore, I left the city and went back to my grandfather’s house where I told him that I got very tired from the exams, so I needed some days alone. I wasn’t sure of my feelings if I felt anything, but during these days, I doubted my thoughts, my goals and even my own existence. I rather sighted than asked myself, who I am. I tried to be concious and guess the source of my disturbance, for that I started to look over my life from the very beginning. I was always a good boy, so what happened? What made me bad, by the way? What made me good? Maybe, it was my obedience. I had done always that others said to me. I thought that I am simple creature of God and I needed a simple life; I can’t race with the complexity and temptations of the world. I need order, not disorder. I need orders to follow.

Dear Dean of The Law and Rights Department,

I am afraid that I cannot be your student anymore. I just received my grades that would suit the Magistrate degree; however, I am making a request for my transfer to the University of Religious Law. For this, I ask to erease my major files and the demand for “student exchange program”. The reason is rather ideological than pedagogical; after the long years of studying the law, it didn’t benefit me from straying astray in the meander of my own principles. In my view, the true law is one that is God’s law. Thus, my seven semesters at your university is like seven dates that are right just perfect, but they cannot take an eighth one more.

I have been proud, being your student and I thank you for this life-changing experience.

Your Obedient Ex-Student.

Benyamin Bensalah


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