Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CXXXIII. My Education – (9 of 13)

In 4th secondary I had two enemies to confront: Drawing and algebra.

Drawing was a bit of an absurd situation. You either had a modicum of talent for it, or you didn’t. I didn’t. But I couldn’t get my certificate without that. Mind you, you were given a choice of three subjects to choose from; as well, the pass mark was only 20%! In other words, show us that you put in an honest effort, and we’ll pass you.

Hamid worked very hard with me. By the time he was finished, my work was tolerable. Mind you it was nothing that would ever hang in a museum! But Hamid gave me his vote of confidence.

I prayed that one of the subjects would be related to water. I did get that and did pass. I no longer remember my marks, but it was higher than 20%.

Regarding algebra, I told my dad that I would need private tutoring. He agreed, of course. Next, I approached my math and sciences teacher, Mr. Manoli; would he have the time to instruct me? As far as he was concerned, I didn’t need any private lessons.

“Buy old exams, and come early to the physics/chemistry lab. Solve the exams in my presence,” he said.

Mr. M. kept one exam, this was to be written as the “final” exam. An exam I would write in the lab under actual exam conditions.

Within two months, algebra was no longer a mysterious subject for me.

On a Saturday afternoon, I went to the lab to write the trial exam. It was a breeze. On Monday, Manoli gave me back the exam. There were no corrections, only tick marks; I had full marks.

Manoli never accepted any payments for his work. He only remarked that he knew I could do it.

On the actual exam, I got 95%, having forgotten to square a figure.

I sat for my June exams, and to my relief saw my number in the newspaper.

Fifth secondary was known as a decision year; not for me though, for I knew I wanted to study sciences, and then study pharmacy (provided I could get the high marks required for this faculty).

In 5th secondary, I took the bull by the horns early on and studied seriously. My parents no longer recognized me. I spent hours with my nose in my books. I needed high marks, passing was no longer enough.

Ultimately, I overdid it. Two months before the exams, I had a meltdown; I started crying without a reason, and could no longer study. There was a big panic in the house. I went to see Dr. El Masry. He was cool about it. His prescription was to take a complete break for one week, do what I wanted, and then go back to my books, but this time, I was to rest at regular intervals.

For good measure, I slept at the Maimonides sanctuary in the old Jewish quarter. I was seeking His healing power, unfortunately, He couldn’t help.

Eventually, I got better following Dr. El Masry’s advice.

I wrote my exams and saw my number in the newspaper. But what were my marks?

I was already in Alexandria, when one day, as I was walking by the seashore, I met one of my friends; “mabrouk,” he said. It means congratulations. What was he congratulating me for? Apparently, my marks were slightly above 72%, and I needed 72% to be admitted to the Faculty of Pharmacy. He wanted to be a doctor, and the percentage required for med. school was 71%, his percentage was higher than that. It was my turn to tell him, “mabrouk.”

Straightaway, I went back to Cairo, got my official marks from the school, and applied to the University of Cairo, Faculty of Pharmacy.

Much later on, I received my certificate; my placement was 263rd over 6595 fellow students who wrote the exams in that year.

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