A glimpse of the school courtyard
A glimpse of the school courtyard revealed both boys and girls eating lunch together, some playing badminton, others just gossiping. After school, with the last light of the sunset on the school building, they would talk about love and watch the stars as a chilly breeze blows over them.
From an outsider’s perspective, it looked as if they were fully enjoying their youth and making the best of their time. Unfortunately, it was all a lie.
My English teacher, Maryam Iqbal, popped a vein as she read my essay. I knew my writing skills were far from proficient but still I managed to put together some fancy words. Was it so bad?
‘Say, Rand, what was the assignment I handed out?’
‘well…it was to write an essay on the topic “Reminiscence about College Life”.’
‘Exactly, so why did you write up this nonsense? Are you perhaps, an idiot?’
So, she couldn’t understand the truth either. What was wrong with my essay? You see, those who glorify youth and memories don’t know its ugly side. Even if they know, they wouldn’t acknowledge it. They say that youth is all about learning from failures and experiences. If failures are seen as part of youth, then won’t those who fail to make any friends experience the height of their youth?
‘Your eyes, they’re like the eyes of a dead fish.’
‘Do they really seem that rich in DHA and EPA? Makes me feel smart.’
The corners of her mouth twitched upwards and there was a gust of wind. It was a fist. A fist that was unleashed without any indication of movement just grazed the side of my cheek.
‘The next one won’t miss”. Her eyes were serious.
I have to choose my words carefully now.
‘I’m very sorry, I’ll accept any punishment.’
She still didn’t seem satisfied. It seemed there was no other way but to kneel down.
‘Sigh, you know, I am not angry with you.’
Oh, so it’s that. That annoying thing they always do. They don’t get angry so, they expect you to tell them your problems.
After some consideration, M’am Maryam sighed again.
‘All right, let’s do it this way then. You’ll be performing volunteer work.’
‘What kind of volunteering is it when I am not willing?!’
M’am Maryam readied her fist again. That serious look in her eyes was back.
‘Did you say something?’
‘No, m’am! I’ll whole heartedly help out.’
And I definitely will. This time I’ll work seriously and get rid of this assignment once and for all.
“Y-yikes…” a voice groaned softly.
An electric fan hummed as if attempting to stifle that voice. Egwene was slowly shaking her head from side to side at the exact same frequency.
‘Hot…I’m burning AAA!’
‘Attention everybody… you guys will be working as a support staff for the elementary kids in their outdoor education camp. You’ll be their assistants, teachers on standby and support for the children. To put it simply, you are slaves.’
I wanted to go home…why do I have to attend to this training camp?
‘I will be more than willing to give you extra credits for your work as Mat mentioned.’
Aha, I see how it is. So, that’s why these people came along too. Mat and Egwene, the upper class in the college. They were the type of people who naturally drew a crowd around them and naturally, that crowd had followed them here.
‘Excuse me… why are they here?’
‘It’s a matter of formalities. If I just watched out for you, it wouldn’t look good. So, I went to great lengths to put up a recruitment notice to invite them. I am a teacher. I must treat everyone as equally as possible.’
If preferential treatment meant getting punched by my own teacher, I wanted none of it.
‘Anyways, this is also a good chance for you. You ought to learn how to handle people from other communities.’
‘Not gonna happen. I can’t get along with them.’
‘Well, you probably can’t do that right away, so, just keep in mind for the future.’
‘Come on, let’s go meet the children.’
As we went deeper into the camp, we saw children having their orientation. As the other teacher saw up approach, he called out: “Last, but not least, these are the nice boys and girls who will be helping you kids out. Let’s give them a proper hello to start with. Pleased to meet you.”
“Pleased to meet you”, the children sang out at the same time. Their gazes turned on us all at once.
As if on cue, Mat took a step forward.
“We’ll be helping you all out for the next three days. Don’t be afraid to tell us anytime you need something. We look forward to spending time with you all.”
Everyone burst into applause.
Wow, Mat sure was something. I didn’t know anyone could improvise a proper greeting message for elementary schoolers without any preparation.
‘Okay’ the teachers called out. ‘Let the orienteering begin!’
We were asked to help students as they explored the supervised forest. So, we went following a random group of people. Surprisingly, Mat followed me. Of course, he brought along his crowd which was annoying.
When the road broke off to the side, we came across a group of five girls. They were an especially cheerful, lively bunch and they chattered in a girly sort of way.
It was a group of five but one of those girls was trailing two steps behind them. She was an eye-catching kid compared to others, even so nobody seem to pay attention to her. Mat seemed to have noticed to it too.
‘Did you find the checkpoint?’ Mat called out to the girl.
‘No..’ she answered with a troubled smile.
‘Alright then, let’s look for it together. What’s your name?’
‘I am Mat; pleased to meet you. You think it might be hidden over there?’ Mat said as he patted Rumi’s back.
I wouldn’t call it a particularly good way of doing things. As Rumi followed Mat, she ended up in the middle of the group. The other girls didn’t look pleased.
The enmity grew without any need for heated words. It was non-verbal, non-physical, passive aggression. It was oppression.
‘Thankyou very much!’ the girls thanked us as we parted ways.
‘We have to do something about that group’, Mat said.
‘If we destroy all human relationship around her, we can help her. Humans are a selfish creature. When they are scared, they’ll do abandon everything else even their relations. By destroying relations, we can help her’
I answered instinctively.
‘Why do you think that way?’
‘Some people like Rumi think it is better to not be very agreeable to others as it saves them the trouble of dealing them.’
‘That stupid logic of yours again.argh’
‘Really, it’s because they’re too agreeable, other people can push them around. Rumi was not agreeable and that’s why they solo’ed her.’
Mat and the crowd around him looked at me with discorn in their eyes. They turned and left probably thinking about any other way to solve that problem.
Again, no one understands me.
Contributed By: Maaz Bin Tahir Saeed