“Why don’t you reply to that bully Ahmed!’ Omar shouted as he exited the school gates with his best friend Musab. “Every day he pushes you, you fall down and then don’t mention it to the teachers or your parents. Why?” he added while the two reached the spot where the van was supposed to pick them up.
“Hmm ....” Musab gave the response he had been giving to Omar for the last two weeks. “Don’t worry, I have a plan,” he said with a smile, as they sat in the van. “Trust me, after two days, he will not even cross my path.”
Omar and Musab were best friends and their parents were friends even before they were born. They were born a day apart and knew everything about each other. Omar was the hyper one, while Musab the calculating one. There was one stark different and that was Omar’s weight — he was bulky and short, and Musab was lean and tall. They sat in the class together, stuck together during the recess and went back home together as well since they were neighbours too.
Despite this closeness, Omar had no idea what was going on in his friend’s mind; he wanted to help him but there was a rule between them — that they will not fight with each other, nor for each other. And that’s the very reason that all Omar could do was to look at his friend falling down, helplessly, every other day in school.
He wanted to hit Ahmed hard but the guy was tall and Omar wasn’t; the bully was an athlete whereas Omar was just an average kid. Musab was part of the karate team but he never raised his hand at Ahmed, and that bothered Omar a lot.
“Why don’t you hit him hard, in your natural karate style?” Omar asked Musab. “You can easily take him down as you are as tall as him!”
“Violence isn’t the right answer to a problem, my friend!” Musab replied with a glint in his eyes. “Especially when you have other means to solve the issue.”
“What are you talking about?” Omar asked his fellow fifth-grader. “I believe that one fistful will do the trick, that too with your eyes closed.”
“Aaaaaah!” Musab sighed as they stepped down from the crowded van and in front of their houses. “I have a plan.”
Omar could neither study that day nor play in the evening because the only thing that occupied his mind was what the plan was! Will Musab ask the karate teacher to get him ready for a fight? Will he involve the principal in the quarrel of good versus evil? Will he finally use his karate knowledge to get the job done? Na, he didn’t think so as Musab was as anti-violence as a model citizen.
And the next morning made things even more difficult as Musab was all smiles when they entered the van, was all smiles when they entered the classroom and was all smiles when they had their lunch in the break.
“What’s the plan?” Omar asked as soon as the bell rang to signal the end of recess.
Musab smiled at his friend, moved ahead and smiled more before turning to him and answering the question with another, “You do trust me, right?”
As soon as the school ended, Musab and Omar were on their way to the van when Ahmed intercepted them, as usual. Musab took a step back, inspected the surroundings and when it seemed he would deliver a punch or a kick, did nothing at all. He just stood there as if he was being filmed by a camera and when Ahmed pushed him. Musab fell down as was the custom. However, he stood up with a smile and started to move towards the van, leaving clueless Ahmed behind.
“That’s it … that was your plan?” Omar shouted at his friend whose palms were hurting from the fall. “You did nothing yet called it a plan?”
Musab stopped, looked into Omar’s eyes and said, “You do realise there is a reason why Batman doesn’t talk as much as Robin?”
“What do Batman and Robin have to do with this fight?” Omar asked without even thinking once.
“Everything,” Musab said as he smiled while turning back into Ahmed’s direction. “I brought his father to the fight!”
Just at that very moment, Ahmed’s father Yousuf Uncle came into the picture and confronted his son, who was as stunned as Omar was. He was scolding him for being a bully and made him apologise to Musab for all his acts. As expected, Musab forgave him and thanked Ahmed’s father before turning back to Omar and heading for the van.
“Close your mouth Omar, there are flies everywhere,” Musab said without looking at his friend.
“How did you convince Yousuf Uncle to be at the right place, at the right time considering he is as busy as our fathers?” Omar asked Musab as the two sat in the van.
“I met him at the library last weekend; on seeing me, he asked about Ahmed’s debate practice,” Musab said as he started to explain the plan.
“What debate practice?” Omar asked in disbelief. “Ahmed has never been in the debate competition!”
“Exactly my friend,” Musab said as he continued on with the explanation. “Instead of telling Ahmed’s father the truth, I told him that his son will deliver a speech in the playground after school hours and it would be great if he could surprise him, and listen to his speech as well.”
“So that’s why he was here, expecting a speech from his stupid kid,” Omar said as he finally understood the plan.
“Yes, and he was filming the sequence on his mobile phone,” Musab concluded. “Before I fell down, I looked around to check if he was there otherwise …”
“Otherwise, you would have used the karate kick, right? Omar interrupted.
“Na … there are more ways to resolve an issue than violence,” Musab said as the van stopped at their gates. “Always have a plan in such instances, you never know when you might be in need of one.”
Published in Dawn, Young World, February 9th, 2019