By Maya Dallal

The house was dark and gloomy, but what was I expecting? It was always dark at night. I could hear the shouts of the Egyptian people outside, wishing that I was there.

We can win! I thought. We will fight for freedom!

I heard my mother coming up the stairs, and I had to pretend to be asleep. That was it. When Mom came home, it was time to be asleep. I quickly tucked my writing and drawings under a dress, and went to the bronze bed, with all its purple sheets neatly made.


That was my cue. I quickly got into my nightgown and was breathing, soon after, like someone who had just fallen into a deep, innocent sleep. Not like someone who had just been writing a book, complete with illustrations.

My mother, Farida, entered the house, her tanned skin looking transcendent in the pale light. She looked as though she had been out there fighting with the revolutionaries.

She quickly glanced over at me, just to make sure that I was asleep, then, looking as tired as if she was holding the world on her shoulders, she climbed into bed.


I woke up, seeing my mother asleep in her bed. Now was the perfect time to go out and fight. Just because my mother doesn’t, that does not mean that I cannot go out in the street and fight for my country.

I quickly got into my clothes and rushed out. The dawn air was crisp, and it chilled me right to the bone. I thought that it might be worth it.

I quickly scanned my surroundings. Not a soul in sight.

I walked, staying out of anyone’s point of view, to my best friend Malak’s house. I then noticed that the door was locked. Possibly bolted.

I saw that there was no one in the windows. Not even a glimmer of light in the silence. Unusual, as Malak’s house was always so lively and full of fun.

I sheepishly walked back to my own dwelling, feeling weird.

Just then, I noticed my mother standing in the street. Could she be going somewhere? At this hour? I puzzled over this, and made sure that she didn’t see me walking back to the house.

I got back into my nightclothes, and messed my hair up so that it looked like I had been asleep.

I wondered if there was more to my mother than the naked eye could see.


I was sketching an Egypt free of all this stupidity, from the president we have had for thirty years.

As a story it would be nice. But a reality? That’d take a miracle.

Or would it take Egyptians?

My mother had told me that the revolution was terrible. Death, everywhere. I was glad I wasn’t part of it all.

But, maybe it would be cool. To fight and fight like my life depended on it, and then, after all that hard work, we would be able to change Egypt, like, forever.

But would it all work? Would we win in the end, or would we just have a lot of death and not change anything?

So, I made a decision. Every night, while my mom was asleep, I would sneak out and fight. Because, even though they already had millions fighting, maybe one more would do the job.


That night I snuck out, dressed in clothes that represented Egypt, and quickly found where all the action was.

The crowd was massive, almost filling up the whole long street!

The chants were quite simple. I quickly caught on. I, and many others, were being lifted up onto people’s shoulders so that everyone in the houses could hear how important this was. Even just yelling out “Egypt!” makes a huge difference.

But, sadly, all of it ended so suddenly.

My mother came down to the crowd, wearing her Egyptian flag like a dress.

Immediately she saw me on my friend Ahmed’s shoulders.

“Zeina!” She yelled, and the whole crowd paused for a moment.

I climbed down and hid myself in shame. I sulked back to my house, and that was my first and last taste of the revolution.


“Why were you out there? This will teach you to obey the rules,” My mom scolded as she snipped my hair up to my ears.

“Mom, it was glorious! You told me that it was horrible!” I yelled at her.

“I know best Zeina!”

“No you don’t! I’ll bet that you don’t even care that I’m cooped up in this prison while you’re out there fighting for all of Egypt!” I was expecting her to tell me that I shouldn’t compare myself to an adult, so I braced myself.

She seemed to hesitate at this point. “I lied, Zeina. I’m sorry,” she explained, in a rather soft voice.

That was the last time I argued with my mom.

That was the time when I realized why my mom lied.

That was the last time I heard revolutionary shouts outside my window.


Two days later it all was over. I still remember that day. There was a huge party at my friend Amina’s house, and it was such a beautiful sunset that we all cried.

Well, we didn’t only cry because of the sunset.

We cried because of all the relief that ending the revolution had caused.

We cried for Egypt, and for all of the pain that it had to endure.

That night was the best of my life. It felt like I had been in that gloomy house for decades, and breathing the fresh air was enough to make me scream with glee.

I decided to put together all of my papers and make a book to share what it was like during the Revolution of 2011 with Egypt and the rest of the world. I think that everyone should always be free to speak their minds, and to fight for what they believe in, and be proud of their nationality, whatever it is. So, if we have another revolution, who knows what could happen? (We’ll probably win, though.) So, if you never give up fighting for freedom, eventually it’ll pay off. And, hopefully, you might become one of the great heroes of your country, one of the great heroes who just started out as ordinary people.

Because, what is worth fighting for?

University Runner Ups

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