Written by Samra Safdar
I took out my phone and started to play games. It was the only thing I could do to ignore the sneers and rude remarks of Chloe and her gang. I swear, they think that they can get away with anything just because they’re the popular kids. Every time they come towards me they burst out into laughter, cover their heads, and do the hand-explosion thing. It’s so annoying.
I haven’t really told anyone, since nothing physical has happened. What’s the point, anyway? Who would believe me? I’m just a “nobody,” and those people are “somebodies.” Even if I did tell someone, they would probably just say, “Ignore it. It’s just a joke.” The thing is, it’s not just a joke. Making fun of my religion and my hijab really hurts me. I’ve told them to stop, but obviously kids like that just don’t listen.
I can already see them coming towards me… I brace myself to fend off the verbal attacks they were about to catapult my way. I looked up so they could see the reaction on my face. You know, the “go away” look.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my ex-best friends. Her name is Kayla. We used to be best friends when we were in elementary school. But when I decided to wear my hijab in sixth grade, she suddenly just stopped talking to me. After a while, I started to get the idea that she didn’t want me around. So eventually, we just left each other alone.
I could see her walking towards me. Great. This is probably why she didn’t want to be around me anymore. She didn’t want to be made fun of. This is why Chloe & Co. make fun of me. I’m so pathetic… You know what? No. This has been going on for two years. I’m done.
“What is your problem?” I yelled to the clique walking towards me. “What, do you guys just ‘happen’ to make a hilarious joke every time you come around me? I really freakin’ doubt it,” I vented.
I shot a look at Chloe, who was utterly shocked at what I had just said. Looks like no one has stood up to her before, I thought. She looked back at her minions with a calm, cool look on her face— which was everything I wasn’t. I was visibly shaking. My face was flushed and my voice choked with fear.
The entire hallway was silent. All eyes were on us, almost as if there was a street performance act in the hall. I leaned against the wall so I could support myself and stop from falling onto my knees. I’m pretty sure they could see the horror on my face, because as soon as I looked away I heard, “Hah! Look!” I picked my head back up. “The little baby’s crying!” she taunted. I really was on the verge of crying. My eyes were watering, ready to stream tears down on my face. The whole hallway echoed of the stupid bullies’ laughter. No one did anything; all they did was stare. No one even tried to intervene and stand up for me.
I felt a light pressure on my shoulder. “Don’t worry about them, Fatima. They’re just jerks,” a voice said. I turned my head to see the last person who I thought would try to comfort me. “Kayla?” I questioned, almost as if I wasn’t sure if this whole thing was real or not.
“Hey why don’t you guys just leave her alone?” she said.
“Why should we listen to you, Kayla? Besides, she deserves it; she’s probably going to blow up the place or something,” Chloe retorted.
“Look, how about you make all of us happy by getting out of our faces. C’mon, Fatima. Let’s go to class,” she said. She took my arm and lead me out of the hallway into one of the other hallways, where there were no onlookers. “You okay?” she asked. I looked up and put on a smile. “Yeah, I’m good. Thanks Kayla,” I said.
“Look, if they bother you again, just say my name three times and I’ll be there,” she said with a goofy grin. I laughed. It was the first time in a while I had genuinely laughed. “Uh hey, if you wanna hang out at the park later today, I’m free,” she offered. I was baffled. Is she being serious? I shot a glance at her; she looked pretty serious to me. I let out a sigh of relief. “Yeah, that sounds like fun,” I answered. “Great. I’ll see ya later!” she said with a wave as she left to go to class. “Bye,” I said back with a smile.
For once, I actually felt happy. Now I don’t need to feel alone anymore.
“No doubt, with every hardship is ease.” (Qur’an 94:6)
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