On a bus to Nazimabad, I made a new friend
Faiza was no different than me - angry,hurt, bitter and ready to commit suicide.
The long awaited bus to Nazimabad was about to leave. Smoke from the traffic had clouded the road, making it hard to breathe and you could see people covering their faces to avoid being choked.
Loud voices of men, the incessant wailing of babies and flinging of bags resulted in a racket which was so constant that one’s ears soon got immune to it. Various people hovered around the bus stand which would normally pique my curiosity, but not today - today, my mind was preoccupied.
I was worried, as always, about money.
Apart from iron deficiencies, my family faces severe financial strain which seems to worsen by the day. My father spends most of his income on my brother, who suffers from schizophrenia, leaving my mother and me longing for financial stability.
The only thing that keeps me going is the exceptional motivation I receive from my father every now and then. He has enormous faith in me and his words constantly echo in my mind,
“You may be a daughter to your mother, but for me, you’re my son with unbeatable strength and phenomenal spirit to strive.”
Out of all the other deficiencies in my life, sleep is the most significant one. In order to support my college education I had to take up a part time job and this led to my sleep being compromised, making me miserable and unable to function.
I was arranging these thoughts in my head when I was interrupted by a loud thud.
A young lady who had stepped onto the bus with a stack of papers and heavy bags tripped over, creating a panic.
I immediately got up from my seat and helped her gather her stuff. I could tell she appreciated my effort as she gave me a soft yet familiar smile in return.
When our eyes met, I was surprised to see that it was Faiza, a girl from my college. Though we studied in the same college, we never actually spoke.
My arduous struggle to survive doesn’t allow me to make any real friends; I can never offer them anything, let alone a dear friendship.
Life was very different for students like Faiza. She was one of the popular ones, always surrounded by an army of friends. They never spoke to people like me, and if they ever did, it was when they needed a favour -- usually class notes for an upcoming exam.
But here she was standing right in front of me, in my bus and this was my chance. I wanted to strike a conversation and so I did.
I started by asking:
“How is your preparation for tomorrow’s mid-term? Oh wait, let me guess -- you don’t have the lectures, right?”
Again, she smiled as I answered my own question. Taking this as an opportunity, I offered that she study with me if she didn’t have other plans. To my surprise, she agreed and we decided to get off the bus on my stop.
I was extremely happy. I had finally found myself a friend -- company to spend a few hours of my mundane life with.
Despite the obvious difference in our lifestyle, Faiza didn’t complain about anything.
We studied together and had lunch. During the course of our little conversation, she taught me her secret recipe for the best coffee which was, indeed, very refreshing.
I knew this was the beginning -- the beginning of our friendship -- an ecstatic feeling that grew with the passage of time.
I was no longer alone. I was blessed with a beautiful person whom I’d like to call ‘my friend’. She became another reason for my motivation and I worked harder than ever to achieve my goals.
Soon enough, it was graduation day and I had planned on telling Faiza how much she meant to me. I wanted to tell her that she brightened up my gloomy days and made my struggle for a stable life easier. Little did I know that she was hiding something too.
Before I could pour my heart out, she caught me and poured out her own. At first, I was a bit startled but later I caught on and heard what she had to say.
She sounded a bit disappointed and asked why I hadn’t asked her why she was on the same bus as me that day. I remained quiet, as she continued to say that she had packed up her bags and decided to run away from home. Her life at home was hard and no different than mine.
She said her stepfather refused to talk to her and her mother consumed alcohol daily in an attempt to remain sane. This had an adverse effect on Faiza, leaving her hurt, angry and disappointed.
She had planned to run away and commit suicide until I interrupted her plan.
Her words really struck me.
We were both the same. We wore a mask, pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside. We were fighting an internal struggle with ourselves and with the world.
Her words were followed by a bright smile. Her smile motivated me, once again.
In that moment, I felt happy. A rush of positive energy swirled my way as I smiled back at her.
Who would have thought that two completely different people in the two different -- albeit sinking -- boats could keep each other from drowning?
Read more by Rakshinda here.