(Author of the Hebrew Eineni Shona and its English
adapted version, now available at all bookstores, No
Different Than You.
"Class trip! Class trip!" Sarit and Rivky called out
excitedly. Michal and Orit jumped up happily from their
seats. Just after the good news had been announced by Mora
Sara, the joy in the fifth grade was without bounds. "We're
going north," the teacher finally managed to squeeze in a few
words edgewise. The little girls' shining eyes warmed her
heart. "A class trip contributes a lot to everyone," she
thought as she noticed the girls' flushed faces.
Morning. Thirty little girls were gathered in class earlier
than usual. "No one's late," smiled Mora Sara. "The bus is
here already!" Nili announced excitedly. Happy shouts filled
"Let's go, girls," the teacher said, and they all ran out
quickly to the waiting bus. After several minutes, they were
all sitting snugly in their seats. Rivky had found a place
next to Orit and Gili sat at the back of the bus, saving a
few seats for her best friends, a solid clique.
The time passed quickly. The girls enjoyed the scenery and
the easygoing relationship with their teacher. Mora Sara took
care to give each child attention or a small compliment, as
she saw fit. By five in the afternoon, they were back on the
bus. Gili looked at her watch. "Yesterday at this time we
were buying all of our nosh," she noted, tapping her
knapsack, deflated and depleted by now. The girls chatted
contentedly as the bus drove along at a steady speed.
Suddenly, a cry was heard. "Ima! Help! The driver..." Efrat
screamed. With a terrible screech of rubber on asphalt, the
bus veered off the road onto a ledge, and then careened
downwards for several meters, until, with a loud crash, it
collided into a stone wall and ground to a halt. There was a
moment of total silence, after which the girls' cries could
be heard. "It hurts!" Sarit whimpered, rubbing her sore
forehead where a red gash could be seen. "Ima'le!"
wept Chagit, holding her right hand which was swelling up by
"What happened?" Efrat stood up and looked around her, trying
to decide whom to help first. "What happened?" Mora Sara got
up and walked up the aisle carefully to where the driver sat,
looking altogether dazed.
"I don't know what came over me," he began. "For a moment, I
couldn't see a thing ahead of me. But why are we standing
here? Let's see how the girls are." He stood up, rubbing his
forehead where it had banged into the windshield and then
followed behind the teacher, as she went from seat to seat.
He took his cellphone out of his pocket and called the first-
aid station. "We must have medical help!" he said, and a few
moments later, the wail of several ambulances could be heard
Afternoon. The sun had been shining for many hours, but in
Room 36, it was still dark. The curtains were drawn and Abba
and Ima were sitting with their tehillim, tears
running down their cheeks. A little girl was lying limply on
a white sheet, her eyes closed.
"Gili, Gili!" her mother looked up every once in a while with
a heavy sigh.
"Ima!" a pair of green eyes suddenly opened. "What's
happening here? What am I doing here?" she asked in
"She's awake!" both parents exclaimed simultaneously.
"I want to get up. I want to go home. Who brought me here,
anyway? And why do you both look so..." She didn't know how
to finish the sentence.
"Rest," Abba said with a smile. "I can't answer your
questions as fast as you ask them."
"Something is strange here..." murmured Gili sleepily.
"Poor child," Gili's mother thought sadly. Would her daughter
ever be as full of joy as she had once been? An hour passed
and Gili opened her eyes again. "Bring me my shoes, Ima. I
want to go home."
"She asked for her shoes," the mother echoed in a dazed
voice. Her heart cried within her. How would she ever explain
to her daughter that from now on, she would need only one
"Gili, how are you?" Shlomit and Michal stood shyly by the
door of Room 36.
"I'm fine," Gili said, giving them a cold stare. "What are
you doing here?"
"We came to visit you," Michal tried to ignore the hostile
"What for?" Gili said in an angry, unhappy voice.
"What sort of a question is that? You're part of our special
clique, aren't you?"
"What clique? I'm not part of any group now. I have a leg
missing. No more running around for me. No more games. The
best part of my life is over and if you're smart, you'll keep
away from me, for your own good. I refuse to be a burden on
Complete silence reigned. Two hearts beat wildly. What could
they say to a girl who had lost her leg? "Don't talk like
that, Gili," they began in trembling voices choked with
tears. Gili didn't cry. She lay with a stubborn expression.
"Leave me alone. I won't let you pity me. I'm better off here
by myself." She repeated this newfound motto to herself.
Two months passed. A pale mother was sitting next to her
daughter, trying to interest her in some games. "Gili, you're
just making things hard for yourself." Gili was refusing to
accept visitors and rejected all games and gifts sent to her.
She had turned into a bitter, very self-centered, self-
pitying child. Until...
Gili was wheeling herself down the corridor from the lab to
her room, ignoring occasional glances sent her way. "Hello,
there," said a voice behind her. No reply. "Hello," came the
voice, loud and clear.
"Hello," Gili finally replied coolly.
"Why are you so stuck up?" continued the voice. "Is it
because you have one leg and I don't have any?"
Gili wheeled her chair around. "What was that?"
A smiling girl looked at her with amusement. "I asked if it
was beneath you to speak to me because I don't have any legs
and you have one." She laughed. "I may not have legs, but I
certainly have brains."
Gili was in shock. "I have one leg," the words repeated
themselves in her mind.
"What are you so cheerful about?" she blurted.
"Why shouldn't I smile? Just because I don't have legs is no
reason not to smile. No one can take that away from me. The
least I can do is try to keep my spirits up," she explained.
Gili looked confused.
"Come, let's go into your room. By the way, my name is
Chedva. Or don't you allow girls without legs into your
room..." she added, enjoying Gili's shocked reaction. All
Gili could utter was, "Come..."
The two girls wheeled themselves into the room and faced each
other, smiling eyes opposite angry, resentful ones.
"Tell me, where do you get the strength to smile and be
Chedva's smile disappeared for a moment. "A good question.
Our circumstances are not too great. At first, I was also
angry and depressed that I wouldn't be able to do all the fun
things I used to do. And I refused to see visitors, too. But
then I caught myself and said, `Hey, Chedva, you lost your
legs but not your smile, your talents or your brains.' I used
to have a great sense of humor, too. No one had amputated
that and I still had alot to be thankful for.
"Sure it was hard at first, a real struggle between despair
and hope. But rather than be miserable without anything to
look forward to, I decided to be thankful for my hands, eyes,
ears, my power of speech..."
Gili looked at Chedva in amazement. "And you know how much
you can do with brains and hands?" Chedva explained. "I took
it upon myself to rouse people out of their self pity," she
laughed. "And you're my next project!"
"Well, I think you're succeeding," Gili conceded, holding out
a hand in admiration and friendship. "You know what, Chedva?
You just helped me find my lost leg. Not the one they
amputated. The leg I forgot to be grateful for. Thanks,
Chedva. You've given me a lot to think about, a lot to be
thankful for. From now on, I hope to concentrate on what I
have, not what I've lost. And that is so much more..."