The icy cold wave appeared more intensified for the day. And those warm vapours rushing out of the mouth seemed fast heading towards the sky. Every gush out was raising a little warmth to the air around me. And each bit of a moment was toting up to the beautification of our university—University of Kashmir. The seven storey huge building, the Allama Iqbal Library, from the gate appeared as if being packed in the mist. The sun was all stuck in the clouds, and they certainly were not interested to let it shine today.
As the day progressed, the cold wave too did escalate but I didn’t feel much of the dipping temperature. Ah! How could I forget? I was going to meet a friend after some five years. And this was filling my soul with the warmth of the love. So, it was enough for me to stand against the odds of the temperature.
* * *
It was afternoon. By then, I had finished all my work. And then, she buzzed me up. That old melodious ringtone appeared captive as I was too curious to hear it. I picked up the call – without a lapse of a minute – and inquired about our place of meeting. In a tick, we zeroed in the lawn of the University of Kashmir—a venue for our much-awaited rendezvous.
The very feeling of meeting with my pal was sublimating my spirits. Back in my head, I was thinking about her reaction—chalking out, how and what we will talk after such a long time!
In the same state, I pushed on my steps towards the venue. Each step was driving me to the memorable moments—we had spent during our school days. In no time, I reached there. And soon, I had my valued glimpse.
I wasn’t able to figure her out. She had a muffler over her face, letting only her eyes visible—just like, the way she used to do in our school days. Oh! I can’t forget she was too very particular about, “prevention is better than cure!”
I whispered to myself: she was there. Then, steps moved closer. And within few moments, the two pals embraced each other like love ones, departed since ages. That very feeling melted my heart away. And time, it seemed, froze in between us. It was a reunion of lovely company since teenage of our youth.
* * *
Before we could deeply get into the conversation, we stood near a tree. And for the moment, the whole world faded from our sight. Soon we got absorbed in our conversation—talking about things that were hitting the tongue first and the mind on the other moment. I believe friendship is all about speaking without thinking! And once you think before speaking, the person can’t be your friend.
The flow of our chitchat was detaching us from time and space. And then, a realization struck back. A ball from nowhere hit my arm. And set my arm on a flaming pain. I felt like hit by a stone—hurled by someone, with all might. For a while, I found myself in total fix. Then I turned around and saw a boy approaching. I didn’t see properly as pain in my arm had engaged my attention. But soon something followed which left me astonished as well as annoyed.
* * *
“Oye meinai O kaha, tunai nai suna (I yelled, but you didn’t listen),” the boy spoke with airs of arrogance in his vocals. His disrespectful tone was something I couldn’t withstand. But I chose to stay tight-lipped. The silence was betraying my own words, “Girl you need to be strong.” And soon, I was questioning myself, “How on the earth, I gave him authority to disrespect me? This of course isn’t me.”
And while devoting a bulk space of my mind to made sense of the incident, I forgot that I was in the middle of a cherished rendezvous with my old chum. But bitterness of the incident was still playing at the back of my mind. I stood up and walked near him. And then, silence shattered, “Listen!” I told the boy with stern looks on my face and firm grip in my voice. “Yes, you. Next time, when your ball aims to a person, don’t forget to bother your tongue and speak up a sorry. And it would be better for you to avoid yelling like a B-grade actor of Bollywood movies.”
“Oye theek hai (Alright, it is fine),” he replied while squirming his body like a restless soul. His body language deciphered his inner values for me, and it became clear to me, why he behaved like he did!
Oye is a word which is most disrespectful to me and I am sure to every self-respecting person like me. To invoke some sense in him, I made up my mind to let him speak, Aap. “Speak to me in a respectable manner,” I told him, “and while speaking make sure you keep distance.”
But, much to my surprise, a chaotic scene ensued. He started moving closer to me. But I didn’t lose my cool. I stood my ground. There was no question of retreat. And then, it took him few seconds to slap me hard on my face! I froze at my place. His act – a coward act – derailed my emotional response. Perhaps, I was still making a sense of his action, “How could he?”
* * *
After few moments, I was quizzing myself, “Was I asking for too much? Did I hurt his inflated ego so much that he decided to settle scores by slapping me? Is it the price of evoking a sense of discipline in someone?” But in the din of the moment, I was my own lawyer and my own grieving party!
His etiquettes made me wonder: If he can slap a girl who was only asking him to behave like a good person, then imagine the depth of his usual conduct. First you hurt someone (even if it was accidental), and then you made her feel so low with your body language. And then, you manhandle her only because she attempted to invoke some sense in you!
For me, he cut the image of a frustrated student who must be drawing sadistic pleasure by pushing all his morals, if at all he has some, under the carpet by his actions.
Anyways, as he set all tongues waging around me, he was soon quizzed by some boys. But in his fits of frustration, he cited certain absurd reasons to justify his actions. But I soon walked away from the place after making my point: “To tolerate nonsense is to offer someone a space to disrespect you.” Surely, I would never let someone point a finger at me.
Being hit by a ball doesn’t matter. We do sometimes, even at home, get injured even more badly than what I faced, but then, there is point of courtesy—taught by our parents and teachers. I just displayed some of those values at a time when they were needed most.
At least, all sound morals of the world teach us that one shouldn’t surrender before someone who insults others. I believe, hitting that mute button is not always desirable. And yes, those who insult aren’t bad, but it is our inability to check their badness which makes them to go gaga with their sick shade of character.
While ruing over the fact that the incident ruined my much-awaited meeting with my friend, I walked away from the campus. With each step, I was thinking that the strength isn’t always about power in arms, but the courage one has to stand against the odds!
(A pharmacologist by profession, Amreen Naqash is a poet by blessing and a writer by experience)