Brothers – short story by Ambia Khan

She just stood there frozen, watching the fight. One by one they took turns. Punching and kicking. The poor victim lay there waiting for his attackers to finish him off. Some feeling came back to her legs and she ran towards them.

 

“Oi leave him alone!” The boys looked up. They smirked and then ran off. She went over the boy and realised it was the new boy from abroad at her school. The boy was in a terrible state, blood was pouring from his nose and mouth. His left eye was swollen up. She tried to help him up but his legs just wouldn’t move. She looked at him with great sympathy; he looked up at her, helplessly.

 

“Don’t worry.” She said to him. “I’m gonna get help ok. Jus-just stay with me ok” The boy nodded and closed his eyes. She ran back to her school which was only a couple of streets away. No-one was here everyone had gone home. She saw one of the teachers getting into his car and ran after him.

“Sir! Sir!” She cried but the man was lost in his own world. She went up to the car and started to bang on the window.

 

“Zara?” The man put his files down and got out of the car. “Why are you still at school – and why on earth do you have blood on you’re hands?” The man exclaimed.

 

“Sir they were beating him up I tried to stop here he’s there bleeding I tried- I tried to stop….” She couldn’t stop crying. Her teacher tried to calm her down and followed her.

 

“It was a good thing you found him in time young lady or the lad might have died.” The doctor said. She wasn’t paying attention she was too busy watching the boy. He was all bandaged up, his family around him. She looked down in shame, she watched while they beat him up. She didn’t stop it she let them do it. She cursed herself. She promised that she won’t do it again, after that night…. She felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped up.

 

“You ok?” Her teacher asked her. She smiled and nodded at him. It’s funny everyone at school hates him for being a bitter teacher. But now seeing him like this caring for his students he looks really nice. It’s true what they say ‘Never judge a book by its cover’.

 

She went back home and went straight to the shower. She stood underneath the shower letting the water flow down her. I don’t get it she said to herself. The guys that were beating that boy were Muslims; the guy that got beaten up was a Muslim but an Arab. We all believe in the same thing so why compare some with others. Why does one group of people look like they’re over the skies and other people look like they have less value than dirt. It’s just so dumb. There has to be a change around this community. She got out of the shower and sighed. Who is she kidding? Even if she did say something it’ll probably cost her face.

She’s seen a lot of racism going on but it was always opposite race fighting. This is just ridiculous it’s like brother is against brother in this battle.

 

“Zara! Come down!” Her mum called. She groaned. Isn’t there a time when she doesn’t need me? She came out and put some clothes on. She stared at her reflection. Her skin is really fair no-one can tell if she is Asian or some other culture. Her name also, Zara it’s not a very common name in her community. She sighed and went down.

 

Her mum was sitting on the sofa watching one of her daily soaps.

“Yes Ma?” She asked with a dull expression on her face.

“Cheer up I have good news” She said smiling. Zara went over to her mum and felt her forehead.

“Mum are you ok I mean you’re smiling and you have good news” She laughed as her mum smacked her on the head.

“God you silly thing” She said laughing. “We have a proposal.” Zara looked at her mum excited.

“Oh my god this is good news who’s the proposal for?”

“You’re sister of course” Zara’s face went from excited to shocked.

“Mum how could you!” She yelled. “You know how much she revised for the exams and how much she wants to become a lawyer. How could you take that away from her after all she did!?”

“Now look here young lady you’re sister is now 20 and…”

“Big deal so many girls in our family got married when they were over 22!”

“You know perfectly well why I’m doing this. Look we’ll find a boy who will let her study after marriage.”

“That’s a trick! You know that for a couple of days he’ll let her then she’ll realise that she has to look after his family! Mum please don’t do this”

“That’s enough from you. I won’t hear anymore” Zara groaned and stomped up the stairs. She went to bed with out any supper. She stared at the stars on her ceiling counting them one bye one. Then with out realising she fell asleep.

“Look there’s the paki girl. Let’s get the paki girl.“ The voices were echoing. People were everywhere gathering around, a light went passing by. There was a gunshot and Zara woke up sweating. The alarm clock was ringing; she slammed her hand down on it. She ran her hands over her hair. No matter what she does that night that awful night always haunts her – and probably will for the rest of her life.

 

Zara got up and went to the bathroom to wash her face. She got ready for school and went down. She found her lazy and jobless brother asleep on the sofa with the TV on. She rolled her eyes at him and turned the TV off.

“Is that you Zara? Make us a cuppa will ya?”

“Do it yourself you lazy git.” Her brother looked up half asleep grinning stupidly at his little sister.

“Whoa look at Zara trying to act all tough”

“At least I ain’t a dumb arse like you” She said.

“What ever” He said mumbling and then fell asleep again. She rolled her eyes at him.

She was walking to school, not even bothered to look up when a car was coming her way. She heard the beeping but before she could do anything something pulled her to the pavement.

“Gurl you betta watch it” Said a familiar voice. She looked up and saw it was Moustafa her childhood friend.

“Oh sorry wasn’t paying full attention I guess.”

“You know what I’ll go through if something happened to you” He said. Zara picked up her bag and walked off. Moustafa followed her.

“Seriously girl what has happened to you lately?” Moustafa asked her but she just scoffed. He shook his head side to side. She exhaled loudly.

“I’m sorry Toffee.” She said (Toffee one of Moustafa’s many nicknames).

“Is there something you not telling me?” He asked worriedly. They crossed the bridge and walked through the deserted park but didn’t say a word to each other. Finally after getting annoyed that Moustafa wasn’t bothered to ask her again so she told him about the boy and the people beating him up. He sighed.

“I know you hate seeing all that even I do but what can we do. They’re not the kind of guys you should go up to and say they’re being racist bas- ok I won’t swear.” She looked down. She really was looking forward to tell everything to Toffee because he usually does something, but this time he isn’t because he’s scared to stand up for the victims. No-one can help the victims sure they’ll tell a teacher the bully gets suspended then it’s a happy ending to there typical life at school, but that won’t get rid of the fear. She’s seen a lot of bullying going on before her even in front of the teachers; she’s seen the fear in their eyes. Can there be a way to get rid of that fear, she thought.

They arrived at school and were greeted with familiar smell of cigarettes filling the air. The students smoking looked at them, grinning. They probably had some kind of drug and have gone high Zara thought. She looked at Toffee who looked like he was thinking the same thing because of the look on his face. One of the smokers looked at Zara up and down, she got scared because she just realised he was there when they were beating that boy up. Did he recognise her? Did he tell those boys that she told a teacher on them? At first she couldn’t tell what he was thinking because of his facial expression, but then he smiled.

“You’re Zara aren’t ya?” He asked her, Zara gulped. The feeling in her legs had gone and she nearly fell over. She got up straightening her self up.

“Y- Yeah. I am” She said nervously the others stopped smoking to look. “Wh- why do you ask?” She said feeling foolish.

“No you look different today” He said, the others laughed. He was obviously lying just to have a conversation with her. Zara looked down at herself. She wears the same uniform like them and she does the same high pony tail on her hair. She looked at him confused.

“Er thanks I guess” She gave a side way look at Toffee who was too busy cracking his knuckles. He grabbed her hand and pulled her away saying to the boys,

“Yeah we all love Zara and her wacky ideas.” He scowled under his breath.

“See ya around Zara” He yelled Zara looked back but said nothing.

Toffee and Zara walked up to their form room. He kept on giving her side way looks. They reached their form room and sat down at the back. One good thing by being friends with Toffee was that in school you had to sit boy girl, and in every lesson Zara sits next to Toffee (she can’t trust the other boys, they look and seem weird to her). He gave her a side way look again which this time annoyed her.

“Toffee do you some kind of problem that you’re not telling me?” She snapped at him. He looked at her stupidly.

“I don’t know what you mean” He said looking side to side, she knew he was lying, every time he lies he’ll look side to side scratch his nose and babble like an idiot. Which he was doing now.

“Oh god,” She said. “You know what just forget it. And stop talking like that you look like an idiot.” He sighed loudly and looked up.

“Haleema” He said slowly. Zara looked up and saw it was her other best friend Haleema. Haleema sat down in front of them along with Adam, a over weight boy, who usually lets out wind whenever he pleases. Haleema rolled her eyes at him and turned around facing Zara and Moustafa.

“Hey Moosy” She said, Moosy was Haleema’s nickname for Moustafa. “S’up Zara” She leaned closer to her “Heard you saved that Arab guy from some crack heads.” She said grinning. “Nice one” Zara gasped.

“How did you know?” She asked, shocked.

“It’s all over the school, Walker walked up to the school with his chest puffed out. Thinks he’s a hero, pathetic.” All the feeling in Zara’s stomach dropped down, she looked at Toffee who was too busy reading a book.

“I’m dead meat” She said to herself.

“Hey, those druggies lay one finger on her I’ll chop their – “

“I think we get the idea” Toffee said quickly. Zara looked down. She wished that she was a lot like Haleema, she’s not afraid of anything. If one person says something to her she’ll diss them so much that they won’t be able to come out in public again. She’s not timid or vulnerable like she was. She sighed. The bell went and more people started to come in the room. They all seemed to avoid eye contact with her. She bit her bottom lip; everyone knew she was a goner.

“Hey Zara” Said a voice she didn’t recognise. Adam in front gasped and let out wind. Toffee that was drinking some water spat it out. Everyone in the room fell silent; Haleema who has always something to say looked at her, lost. She looked around desperately for a teacher but she was no-where to be found. She gulped. She tried hard to stop her leg from shaking but it seemed like it had a mind of its own, it probably knew what fate it was going to have so it left her in her time of need. God she’s gone mental thinking like this about her leg. Everyone looked at her waiting for her reply.

“Y-y-yes?” She managed to say.