The False Freshman Essay

1236 words - 5 pages


The story of one Nepali girl who left for
college in the most unusual way.

Writer: Danna Abrahim
Interpreter: Faiz Hasan


very fall on campus is marked by swaths of fresh

flickering in the background of the university hubbub. She

faces trumpeting into third-year classes with first-

is also kind and patient young woman, one who graciously

year syllabi.

helped two bumbling students cast a light on perhaps the

They amass at and maneuver through doorways like herds

most literal example of someone being so close, yet so far.

of lamb, wide-eyed and knobby kneed, side-by-side,
jostling down hallways, bleating, CHEM 101? NAB 002?


First floor? Up the stairs? ...view middle of the document...

their two buffalo and six goats, who in turn live peaceably

Three months into the semester and Kanchan Sunar has

amongst the family of Hindus.

not taken a single class.

Her father is an industrial worker. He works ten-hour

She walked onto the American University of Sharjah a year

shifts at a beer factory an hour away on foot. A caring

after graduating from the Sri Akalai Laur Secondary School

father, he encourages his children to get educated. When

in Nepal, two months after her twentieth birthday and a

she graduated the 8th Grade, Kanchan began riding the

few days after settling into her new home at a
nearby labor camp.
Now, she cleans. She mops the floors of her wouldbe classrooms, picks up the garbage of her wouldbe classmates and rides the bus at dawn every
morning to her would-be university.
Despite her age, no one ever confuses Kanchan for
a student. Her uniform deftly signals to the other
eighteen-, nineteen- and twenty-year-olds that this
girl, whatever dreams she may have, whatever
likes she might share, is not one of them.
Kanchan is a shadow, an ever-present figure
Above: Kanchan smiles for the camera.

bus to the nearest secondary school, a ten-room building,

her: “Take care of your siblings, help them with their

ways off from the village. She was one of the top-ranked


students in her class.

It's been three years but the changes that took place in

Smiling, she tells us that her favorite subject was math.

the household remain.

Had things happened differently, she would have been a

“My mother used to tell me to be a teacher and to teach

teacher– a dream, she says, inspired by one of her own

all the children in the village,” Kanchan says. But after her

instructors, a man whose fondness for teaching touched

death, family took precedent. Seventeen-year-old

Kanchan and her classmates.

Kanchan took up her mother's mantle as caretaker,

Every night after dinner, Kanchan would sit down with her

cleaning, cooking and looking after her siblings and the

siblings to tutor them. She enjoyed it. Her brothers and

house. Upon graduating, she decided to help her father

sisters shared her penchant for learning, taking after their

pay off their medical bills, a whopping 200,000 Nepalese

sister's tenacious spirit.

Rupees. She heard of work in the United Arab Emirates

Evil entered the house then, just a short while after

through a cousin who was employed as domestic help in

Kanchan began secondary school. It settled on the back on


her mother's hand: a malignant black growth.

Like any proud parent sending their...

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