Eucatastrophe. Part:6

I struggled to breathe for a few moments, gulping oxygen like a drowning survivor. All the air had literally been knocked out of me. It was then that I realised that I was shaking violently. I tensed my muscles and tried to stop shaking.

All that happened was that the pressure increased on my shoulder and the incessant shaking just got worse, a small moan escaped my lips and thankfully the shaking stopped. Gosh, I hurt all over, my entire body felt like one heave bruised mess of hurt.

Hazily, I registered someone sighing, “Oh you’re alive! Thank god!” I just closed my eyes and allowed my head to loll back succumbing to the warm, welcoming sleep that was oh so inviting. The annoying shaking started again and annoyance rose in me, who was this idiot that just wouldn’t allow me to sleep? As if the shaking wasn’t enough, the idiot started yelling, his voice grating against my poor abused head. His pitch rose higher and higher, until it felt like my head was about to explode. “Wake up! Wake up! Just get up. You can’t go to sleep, you’ll die. Oh my god! You’ll die and I’ll have your death on my hands. Don’t die. You can’t die. Just.”

This stupid idiot! He wanted me to wake up when he hadn’t even let me sleep.I ought to teach this idiot a lesson. I really should. Trying my best to remember that self-defense move one of the bigger girls had demonstrated to us at the orphanage, I curled my fist and with all the strength I could muster, lashed out in the direction that the annoying noise was coming from.

My eyes were still closed but it seemed that idiots face was closer than I thought and I heard a sickening crunch followed by, “Shit! What’s wrong with you!” as my eyes flew open to see him cradling his nose.

“I’m sor..” I began before changing my mind. “Good, you deserve it. As if it wasn’t enough that I had to go against all my scruples just to write you one stupid essay because you have no brains and can’t manage to write one yourself you had to injure my poor brains too. My head hurts, My back hurts, My ribs hurt and my heart hurts because I’m sure my mother is looking down at me very upset at what I’ve done and you don’t even have the decency to let me sleep. So what if I die, It’s better of that living in this miserable universe that idiots like you reside on.”

Suhail seemed very weirded out and began backing away cradling his nose staring at me wide-eyed as if I was a patient from the mad hospital. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was in so much of pain, I would have found this situation hilarious.

“Yeah, run away coward. You know what? Please go. I hate you! I don’t think I can stand another second in your presence.”

I watched him retreat in satisfaction but once he was gone so was my distraction. All the pain and heartache returned. My head began throbbing, my ribs began aching, my backside was probably turning blue but most of all was the pain in my heart.

I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. “Will it ever end?” I questioned yearning for someone to comfort me and reassure me that it would but there was not a soul in sight.

Little did I know HE was watching, HE saw everything, HE was waiting for me to turn to him but I barely even knew HE existed. I knew I was Muslim but I didn’t know what being Muslim entailed. It was only later that I came to know of HIM. That despite everything HE loved me. HE would have helped me through everything but I didn’t know about HIM so I didn’t turn to him for help.

Due to everything that I went through I later pondered how come I didn’t snap? How come I didn’t go crazy? How come I don’t suffer from depression? How come I didn’t resort to terrible avenues and criminal activities? The reason for this was that HE was watching over me. Allah loved me more than any human ever could and he protected and helped me through everything but at that moment I felt utterly crushed and defeated that I actually contemplated suicide but something held me back. Little did I know it was HIM, My creator, my guardian, my Allah.

Eucatastrophe. Part:5

But…but Mr Moore, what…. Why.. How does that even benefit you? Why would you cheat on behalf of a student? It just doesn’t make sense. Why.. Why are you dong this?” I cried out.

The answer I received was one that I remembered for years to come, for it changed my entire perception of the world in the blink of an eye.

“Sarah, I like you, you’re a good student so I’m going to let you in on the way this world works,” Mr Moore stated, peering at me over his glasses, “Money makes the world go round, it’s as simple as that. Remember this because it’s a reality. If you’re rich, you’ll have the world at your feet and if you are not, and want a chance to live even a slightly luxurious life, then when an oppurtunity comes along, you grab it. Oh, and one more thing, you don’t say no to a millionaire.”

“So you’re saying that you were bribed,” I state narrowing my eyes at him.

“Now, now, Sarah, when you put it like that, it sounds so uncouth. I prefer to use the words incentive or mutually beneficial deal. You like to write so you should know the importance of using the right words,” Mr Moore says snarkily.

“No! No! I won’t do that. I can’t!” I whimper. “Then I’m afraid I can’t write you that letter.”

My heart was bursting with insurmountable desperation. What was to become of me if I lost this chance? I’d pinned all my hopes on this. Could I really go against all my values for this one chance? Then again for all my values and always doing the right thing I’ve never gotten far in life, have I?

Maybe it was time to take the plunge. I mean, it’s only one essay. There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain. I need this chance. I’m losing hope. I can’t remain in the orphanage for the rest of my life. I need to make something of myself and time is running out. My chances just seem to be getting slimmer and slimmer.

But I couldn’t just give in like that. My moral code simply wouldn’t allow it. It was unethical, and downright cheating. In my desperation I tried one more ploy, “Mr Moore, If you don’t write my letter, I’ll, umm I’ll go to head and report exactly what you’ve asked me to do.”

I grimaced internally, why did I have to be so terrible at talking to other, I hated how shaky my voice was. It was possibly due to that reason that Mr Moore didn’t take me seriously. He simply laughed at me and told me to stop being so naive and that I should know that between a teachers word and an orphan student’s, whose will hold more weight. “Go ahead!” He said cynically, “I’d love to see how you embarrass yourself .”

“I’ve already explained to you how this works. I’m higher than you on the status chain so whose word do you think will be believed? But since you seem to need more incentive, I’ve been generous in marking your papers and essays, do you really want to test me? Because the way that you are acting, it seems that you don’t deserve my generosity.”

I deflated then, faster than a popped balloon. A stabbing hurt filled my heart and tears began pricking my eyes. How was I supposed to do anything when the entire world was against me. It was as if everyone was just waiting for me to slip and fall for the sole reason that they would get the chance to laugh and jeer at me.

My whole life, I’d never been handed anything on a platter so why had I expected this to be so different. Maybe I should just agree, it was just one paper after all. But what if..

Although my heart and mind were still at war, my tongue seemed to have made its own decision and I found myself saying, “Fine! I’ll do it but only one. I’ll hand in the essay to you next week and I expect my recommendation as soon as I hand it in.”

A smiling Mr Moore objected, “A short story and we have a deal.”

All my will to fight was drained out of me so I simply nodded in agreement before promptly spinning around and walking out, my heart and mind full of turmoil. Was I doing the right thing?

Feeling like I couldn’t breathe and unable to suppress the feeling that I’d just done something dreadful, I broke into a run.

When my doubts still continued assailing me, I ran faster and pushed myself harder, trying to drown out my conscience. Faster and faster I went until I was full on sprinting. But still, my inner voice wouldn’t shut up.

Pound..pound.. I shouldn’t have done that…thud.. thud… What if I get cought?..Pound.. pound.. Why did I agree to some thing so silly.. thud..thud… maybe I can still get out of this.. thud..thud.. But how will I get this opportunity again?

By now, I was panting and out of breath but I continued to push myself to go faster, refusing to slow down. The exit staircase came into sight and I began slowing down, when something hard banged into me and I went flying down the staircase, my flailing arms and legs doing little to slow my fall.

Nani-Jaan smiled indulgently as all the children groaned and begged for her to continue. Shaking her head, she explained that it was getting late and perhaps they should get going back to their homes. That day, she left them with an important lesson, one she hoped they would remember for as long as they lived. “My dear children, always in the history of mankind, bullies have existed. In fact even Qabil (Cain) the son of Adam, bullied his brother. We have to be very careful not to turn into bullies. And yes my children, you get adult bullies too, mummies and daddies also sometimes bully others, but this is also wrong. Just like how Mr Moore is wrong to be bullying Sarah like that as he’s her teacher, any type of bullying is unacceptable and should be stood up against. Now before you go children, I want each and every one of you to promise me to never bully anyone ever again.”
All the children obediently complied with a loud chorus of promises and even though Nani-Jaan never showed it, she noticed the red, shame-faced boy in the back who just mumbled it, his eyes cast downwards. She felt a jolt of satisfaction at seeing this, Alhamdulillah! It seem that the morals were driving home and the lessons were being learnt.

Eucatastrophe. Part:4

Orphanages protecting children from abuse and neglect is only a myth. Research shows the rate of sexual and physical abuse is far higher in orphanages than in family settings.

Though Sarah went through so much, her soft nature was such that she clung to a little bit of idealism. She still believed deep down, that there was good in people and that one day her circumstances would improve.

Writing was her escape from the harsh realities of life and Sarah had firm conviction that it would also be her means of physical escape from the life she was living right now.

She knew her work was good enough. Even as a child, Sarah had a way with words. She would spin tales so intricately, that they would appear simple. Only a very perceptive person would notice the underlying details. Effortlessly, she could bring a smile to people’s faces or reduce them to tears. Within seconds she could then make you laugh through those very same tears she had induced.

There were countless short story competitions open, but Sarah had no electronic device to type and submit it through. All her stories were written in old notebooks she found, that other kids discarded at the end of the year.

The only place she had access to technology was in the school library but that was very limited, for short periods of time. For months, she painstakingly typed out her manuscript and after almost a year, she finally managed to type it all out. Determined not to let her efforts go to waste, she spent weeks poring over different places she could submit it to, before finally finding the perfect one. There was just one catch, in order to enter the competition, she needed a recommendation from a qualified English teacher. This meant that she’d have to get over her painful shyness and speak to Mr Moore.

She was one hundred percent sure he’d agree, as he was a really nice person, possibly Sarah’s favourite teacher. He actually took the time to explain concepts nicely and Sarah thirstily lapped up each drop of knowledge like a parched traveller.

While other lessons required hard work to get average marks, Sarah always aced English. There, she was undoubtedly the star pupil.

It took a few weeks, but she finally plucked up the courage to approach him. She went up to him just after school ended and shyly muttered her request to him.

Hurt welled up in her when he barely looked up and just brushed her off, saying, “I’m busy.” The thought of losing her chance filled Sarah with desperation and she practically begged him, “Please, sir. I really need this.”

Whatever little hope she had clung to her entire life, through all the trials she’d been through, began to slowly seep away when Mr Moore shook his head. “I told you, I’m too busy. I’ve no time to waste with trivial stuff like this.” When she didn’t leave, he glanced up, then and looked her up and down, ” I can make an exception though but only if you do me a favour in return.”

Sarah worked hard to keep the horror of her face. She’d heard from the older girls in the orphanage to never trust men and that the only time a man would help you in any way was if you did ‘favours’ for them.

But surely Mr Moore wasn’t like that? That wouldn’t happen to her, especially not in school, right? She was still so young. Sarah stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, second guessing herself. Furtively, she glanced at the door and tried to guess how fast would she have to run, should she need to get out of here.

Mr Moore interrupted her frantic thoughts, “No need to look so horrified, it’s just something simple. You see, Suhail Abad is almost failing english and his creative writing is abysmal so if you just write me one or two essays or reports that I can mark under his name, I’ll write you a glowing recommendation. It’s a win-win deal, don’t you think?”

I stared at him, speechless. I couldn’t.. I would never.. How could I live with myself if I did something like this? But if I didn’t… I could be stuck in this rut for the rest of my life. I needed just one chance, only one, to prove myself. Why did no one want to give it to me? Why on Earth was a teacher trying to cheat on behalf of a student? And the big question, just how much was I prepared to do to get out of this hell hole?

Eucatastrophe. Part:3

 Many people out of poverty place their children into an orphanage thinking that at least they’ll be fed everyday. They fail to realise that orphanages are NOT the best option for children because even of the orphanage can feed them better, it harms them in another aspect. The ratio of children to staff in an orphanage is nearly always higher than in a home setting, and nothing can make up for the personal attention and love of an aunt or grandmother, no matter how poor these caregivers may be. A child who doesn’t have this love and affection has a slower and more stunted brain development compared to children who do. Residential care is sometimes best for some children in the short-term, such as when it provides a bridge for children from living on the streets to reunification with their families, but should not be considered a permanent solution.

As Sarah grew, she witnessed her classmates interactions with their parents when they came to drop or fetch them from school and how their elder siblings always came to check on them and help them. This was something that she truly envied and wished for because she had no one to show her any sort of love.

She yearned to have just one person hug her and tell her ‘I love you.’ She yearned for someone to lovingly tuck her into bed at night. She yearned for someone to protect her from all the dangers of the world. She yearned for a more protected and loving environment.

She yearned to be able to go to sleep at night happy and without any worries. She yearned to wake up the next morning to the aroma of a delicious breakfast feast, where she could eat as much as she liked without having to worry about what was added in it to make it enough for everyone and without having to worry about everyone else in the orphanage getting enough food as well.

As Sarah witnessed life out of the orphanage and how people wasted and had no appreciation for things, her heart broke. Her heart broke as she witnessed people throwing away food because she didn’t even know if she would get supper that night.

Her heart broke when she saw people who wouldn’t wear the same clothes twice because she knew she was lucky if she got a new garment twice a year, and that garment would often be someone’s hand-me-down that was full of holes that needed to be patched before she could wear it.

Most of all her heart broke whenever she saw anyone disrespect and ill treat their parents. She didn’t have parents. These people were lucky to have parents but they failed to realise how blessed they were and appreciate their parents.

She often cried and prayed for parents but she soon became despondent. She would have loved to be adopted but everyone only wanted to adopt the smallest, prettiest or most unusual looking children.

When seeing people who didn’t appreciate their parents, this thought would cross her mind, ‘Since they didn’t love their parents why couldn’t their parents be taken in place of hers.’ This thought would soon leave her feeling guilty for thinking that way but do you blame her?

Today’s lesson my dear children is appreciation.
Learn to appreciate and not waste.
Appreciate what you have and try to share it with those less fortunate than you.
Appreciate what you have before it becomes something you had.
Take this lesson from Sarah and appreciate before it is too late.
We appreciate the things we have by using it in the correct way and not wasting it.
We appreciate our loved ones by being kind and loving to them.
Most of all we appreciate everything we have by being grateful to our lord who has bestowed us with all of this.