On my own

Who has had a profond influence on your life?

Cowardice surged through me as Emma sneered down at me. Her eyes pierced my own, seemingly oblivious to the glints of sunlight through the boughs of the shadowy trees. “Apologize!” Emma demanded, and I trembled. Raising my hand to shield my eyes against the sunlight, as though saluting, I began to wish I had not challenged Emma in front of her friends. I stared dumbly down at the soil and wished vehemently that I could vanish from this scene with a girl I once looked upon with awe and fear. As I stood there, I forced myself to examine the chain of events that had led me to this confrontation.My small, large-eyed best friend, Inseeia, had committed the crime of accidentally brushing past Emma in the lunch hall. ”You stupid idiot!” Emma shouted at Inseeia, who stopped short in fear and looked to me for defense. And what did I do? Nothing. I thought Emma’s verbal attack was a mistake, but I tried like the rest of my peers to view her behavior as harmless fun. However, as the weeks progressed, Emma’s attempts to embarrass my friend only intensified – and still I chose to avoid confrontation than defend my friend. I wounded Inseeia more deeply than any nasty comment from Emma ever could; I betrayed our friendship for the approval of a mean-spirited person.Seeking to escape my shame, I delved into my book collection and came up with ‘The Kite Runner.’ Instead of solitude and distance in its pages, however, I found the inspiration to stand up Emma’s abuse and defend my friend. I read:I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked; saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles. I realized something else. I was weeping. From just around the corner, I could hear Assef’s quick, rhythmic grunts. I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan – the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past – and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end, I ran.I felt like Amir, the narrator, who did nothing as bullies attacked his friend even though my conscience screamed at me to act. But while Amir chose to leave his friend – and live with the knowledge that he allowed Hassan to be raped – I decided to gather the moral courage to do the right thing and stand up for Inseeia despite my fear of getting hurt.The thought of Amir came to me as I stood there before Emma, her “Apologize!” still loud in my ears, and gave me the courage to lift my head and stare directly into Emma’s eyes. I suddenly saw her for who she was, an insecure young girl who needed to pick on other people in order to feel important. “No!” I shouted, hardly recognizing my forceful voice. Taking advantage of Emma’s surprise, I continued. “’There are a hundred people like you, who are so pathetic they need to make other people feel bad to drag them down to your level. I just pity the day for you when everyone sees you for the cruel person you are.” I ignored her futile jeers and left the scene, feeling for the first time that I had redeemed myself and finally become worthy of Inseeia’s friendship.Emerging from the secluded woodland to the playground, I met the approval of my peers – they had heard Emma’s shrieks and guessed that she got what she deserved. But it was Iseeia’s smile that reinforced to me the importance of standing up to oppressors and defending one’s friends. I realized that I was going to be – had to be – someone who would be make a difference by following her conscience and refusing to be ruled by fear. Feeling years younger, profoundly changed, I followed Inseeia and our classmates back to the classroom.  

Leave a Comment