I was merely a child of twelve, when one day, a wasp entered the class. Soon there was chaos as if Godzilla had entered, with students screaming, jumping and running around. Some did it just for fun as it was temporary relief from the boring class. The teacher stood there hopelessly trying to calm down the students. Finally, the wasp sat on a window pane. Just then the teacher asked a student to smash it with a book immediately. I was horrified and out of innocence argued with the teacher that if it is not harming anyone then what’s the point of killing it. The teacher wasn’t happy with my interruption and replied “if an enemy enters our home it’s our duty to protect ourselves, therefore we should kill it.” I didn’t like the justification and was sad that the poor wasp had to die in vain.
A year later, I was still the same gutsy child standing always for what I considered right and silly enough to think that I could change the world by merely talking to people and making them realize that their actions hurt others. This time I incurred the wrath of my Islamiyat teacher, who was quite a brute and wouldn’t hesitate to smack children when needed, and said the cruelest things to them. When she entered the class, everyone’s throats would run dry and sweat drops would appear on our foreheads. One day, she slammed the book on the head of a girl who was asthmatic. All these days, I had held in my anger, but this time it was too much. I called out at the teacher, she turned around and asked what the matter was. My heart beating wildly against my chest, legs shaking, but I gathered the courage to say, “You are Islamiyat teacher, our religion says to control your anger and be kind to children.” This was followed by an awkward silence with all the students and the teacher shocked to their bone. After sometime the teacher told me that I was a fool who didn’t know what to say in front of whom. Later during recess, students patted my back and hugged me for being so courageous.
Even during university days, I remember telling one of my teachers that if teachers don’t perform their duty well and they don’t come to the class well prepared then they are earning “haram salary”. Luckily, this time the teacher didn’t mind it and instead told me that these words would haunt her as long as she is working as a teacher. Till this time I was deluded enough to think that I could change people and make the world a better place. I barely had any fear in my heart about what consequences would I have to deal with because of this nature. I always dreamed of being a savior for the voiceless and exclaimed at the top of my lungs the dialogue of Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of The Rings “there is something good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
However, as I grew older, I realized that I was childish and stupid all along, that people don’t change merely by some good words spoken to them; nature remains the same. As I entered professional life, I further l earned the world is not as nice as I thought it to be. When I saw good people suffering around me, I started thinking that maybe this world was never meant for them. By this time a fear had started creeping in my heart. Due to continuous fights with others, and becoming a target of their anger and petty politics, I began getting scared of speaking the truth and became silent. I would look at all sorts of corruption, but stopped raising my voice. Deep down it would hurt me a lot, but the fear of consequences always held me back. I was told by several people, let others be. I follow the piece of advice to this day. But deep down, it does not make me feel satisfied with myself. I feel as if I am no longer that courageous, no longer that confident, no longer following the path to make this world a better place for all.
After so many years, recently, I once again picked up a fight with my neighbors and this time protected a stray dog from being beaten up and stoned. Temporarily, I felt the same courage coming back to me. I felt I was strong once again. I felt good after a long time, but I know that it won ‘t last long. Therefore, I write this to the younger me, to tell the lost girl, that I still wish to be her and live like her once again. Fear less, courageous and righteous. I want to remind myself, how I had dreamed of making the world a better place, the dream that has faded and all I can think of is “survival of the fittest”. That I have to be ruthless to survive in this cruel world.
Some might even think, that I can do that right away, what’s even stopping me. Unfortunately, the bitter truth is that one who speaks truth isn’t liked and is often challenged, harassed and ends up with so many enemies. In professional life, no matter what the profession, people are taught to mind their own business, don’t be corrupt themselves if they choose to, but don’t stop corrupt people either, if they want to keep their jobs. However, for me: I think that the dream faded but did not completely shatter. I still believe that there is some good left and we should strive to fight for it, tell the tales to our progeny, and help them see empathy, truth, and righteousness win, so they too dream to make this world a better place for all, like the silly young me.