The Eavesdropper

By Yehuda Carmel

The Analytical Chemistry department was buzzing with anticipation. Today each student will learn whether they have met graduation requirements for the master's degree program. The announcements were scheduled to take place at the Hopkins Auditorium, at 12 noon.

Tammy was there too. For the last several years she dedicated herself to studying for this advanced degree, and sacrificed many other personal ambitions to achieve this goal. Tammy commuted almost daily from her Napa Valley home to the university campus.

Tammy bought a cup of coffee and a sandwich at the nearby cafeteria and sat on a bench in the middle of the campus's beautiful lawn. The area was popular with students, teachers and professors who often spent their breaks on the lush green, enjoying small talk or holding serious conversations.

While eating her sandwich Tammy couldn't avoid hearing the voice of her professor - right behind the shrubbery line – talking to another person about a female student from Napa Valley who failed to meet graduation requirements for the Master's degree program. Unfortunately that student will have to continue her studies for at least another semester.

Tammy was devastated. Her face became pale and her hands were trembling. The remains of her sandwich fell to the ground and the coffee spilled on the bench. She was about to faint, and saw the trees whirling around her. Her years of work appeared like a nightmare before her eyes.

Tammy thought about the consistent encouragement she received from her husband and about the sacrifices her young daughters had to make to allow time for Tammy's studies. She thought about the many days and nights that may have been wasted in vain. She couldn't understand how this situation could come about when she was so close to the finish line.

It was 12 noon and Tammy entered the auditorium and joined the crowds inside. She looked for a seat in far back corner, trying to hide from her friends. She had a strong and vivid feeling that she was now deceiving them after a long period of hopes and anticipations.

The senior faculty members, professors and instructors, walked to the stage and sat behind the green-covered tables. The crowd was hushed while the faculty dean opened the gathering with a strong and confident voice. "We are gathered here today to honor the students with a Master's Degree for their fine work during the last several years. I will call each student by name and those who are present should come up to the stage and receive their diploma and our congratulations." After each name that was announced, the crowd stood and applauded, then returned to their seats.

All this time Tammy was sitting nervously in her chair, wiping the tears off her face, unaware of the people around her. She considered running away from it all. She wanted to go back home, close herself in her room and cry.

Then the professor stood up again and said: “At the conclusion of this special day, I want to announce the names of two students that demonstrated excellent achievement all through the years. The first one I want to congratulate is Mr. James Rainbow for his accomplishments during this last year. Mr. Rainbow, please come and get your diploma" The crowd shouted and applauded until the Mr. Rainbow went back to his seat.

Tammy knew James as a dedicated student and recalled that they met on various occasions. Once, she recalled, she drove him home on the way to her home in Napa Valley.

"The second special honor is awarded to Mrs. Tammy Norton on her very extraordinary achievements at the university. I'm proud to call Mrs. Norton to come to the stage and receive her Master's Degree in Analytic Chemistry, and a full scholarship, to continue her studies for a doctorate degree at our faculty."

Tammy was astounded. She couldn't believe what she has just heard. Was it a mistake? Was it her imagination? Was it an inner voice that came from her feverish mind? But the professor persisted and repeated her name. Now with a great effort Tammy rose and walked toward the stage. The crowd was cheering and applauding, and her tears came back, tears of happiness and relief. She shook the professor's hand and raised the diploma high in the air, while the applause grew stronger than ever before. Tammy's friends surrounded her with kisses and embraces. They cheered her and lifted her up and down a few times. This was certainly the best moment of her life.

At last the celebration was over. Tammy walked to her car to calm down. She sat there alone for over an hour and all this time her mind was racing, reviewing what just happened. She was certain that she heard the professor talking about “the student from Napa Valley ,” and then, all of a sudden it came to her. They were talking about Margaret, another student who also lived in Napa Valley.

Copyright © 2002-2024 Yehuda Carmel. All rights reserved.
2024-2002 כל הזכויות שמורות ליהודה כרמל ©