Life Goes On Without You

A Good Way to Hide

The best way, Ive learnt to hide is with a book. Both metaphorically and literally. Here as I sit beneath a bench at my new school, I know that whilst hiding physically, I am hiding mentally. No one can see my face, and no one can know my thoughts. As they pass through, a tangled mess between fantasy and reality.

A book is a true escape.

A way to hide in plain sight.

But the sad thing is, I shouldn have to hide, my thoughts, myself, everything that I should be able to display and not be judged for.

So why am I so worried, why am I hiding away? Is it crazy that on my first day, I am sitting on the rather wet ground, getting my skirt in a bunch, when I should be out there? Communicating, making friends like any other 15-year-old?

Well, there is a simple answer to all these questions. A single word in fact.

Muslim.

Thats it, my religion is what made me feel shunned. Made me feel I needed to hide and I don just mean the stereotypical nonsense that Im forced to cover. I feel the freest with this fabric on my head, smooth and soft, the colour of the night sky and as comforting as the dark has always been for me.

So why am I so scared?

Well, I wouldn define it as scared per se, I think a more fitting definition would be that I was paranoid. You may think, Amina, those are exactly the same thing. Well, Im here to tell you they are not.

Being scared is knowing whats coming and fearing it, paranoia is fearing the unknown.

And this new environment, this new school, this new everything was completely unpredictable.

I shake my head, a nervous habit Ive adopted after the culmination of name-calling both from my own mind and others. I shake my head because sometimes I convince myself that by doing so I can manifest the power in me to expel all the terrible thoughts that weave their way into my brain.

I do it so much that my glasses fall free from my face, inelegantly tumbling onto a grass patch just outside the hidden zone beneath the bench.

I heave a sigh, convincing myself that maybe this is the moment when I realise I have powers, that I can use my mind to pick the glasses up. That I could be Matilda, or Harry, waking one day and realising that I am so much more than I ever thought.

Of course, reality comes crashing down, dispelling any sort of hope I may have had. I can barely see whats in front of me, I guess anyone would be able to tell from the thickness of the lenses encased in the traditional black frame.

Out of nowhere, I see a pair of hands, the sort of colour that isn too far off my brown skin but still much lighter, a pale undertone, and they are clearly strong fingers that curl around my glasses pulling them up and out of my reach.

”How do you even fit under a bench, Freak? ” And there it goes, a full five minutes without being ridiculed.

It had to be a new record.

I crawl out from m hiding spot, exposed and with a book hanging closely from my fingers, nipped and red from the cold.

I hold my other hand out and in the politest way possible I ask, ”Can I please have my glasses back? ”

”Oh look, shes one of those girls, ” the bitter tone struck me to my core, as I spun to meet the disembodied voice that had thought of the oh-so-original taunt about my headscarf.

If you don get the sarcasm, I don know what to tell you.

”One of those girls? ” my voice was incredulous, ”Are you one of those guys? Who lacks original thought to the point where you have to pick on someone elses religion to feel good about yourself? ”

The words slither from my mouth, a snake ready to inject venom because a snake could only cure through its own poison. And these words would only cure this bully if he accepted them.

I remembered that my ever-so-prepared self this morning had foreseen, something like this happened. I guess it was a good idea to carry around a second pair of glasses, I always did after…

Its a sad reality that I knew something like this would happen, but what could I expect? We lived in a brutal world.

Judge or be judged, I guess I had always fallen on the judged side of things.

After a few awkward moments of me struggling to find my blazer pocket, with my blurry vision and just the receptors on my fingers to tell me if I was close enough, I pulled out a second pair of glasses. I placed them on, holding them by the bridge afraid that they would fall again, leaving me without the necessary vision to confront my new set of tormentors.

I guess I was an easy target. I just screamed, insult me. Small, spindly frame,e completely covered, with a foreign name and a religion that it

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