“Don’t let him get away,” shouted Hassan to Moiz as they were chasing their neighbour Usman.

Moiz and Hassan were the notorious bullies in their neighbourhood. Usman was a sweet guy who loved to read. He didn’t have many friends, but he had his books with him all the time.

That day he was coming back from the bookshop around the corner with a few new intriguing books and an old notebook in hand. The two bullies were impatiently waiting to tease someone in the street.

As Usman crossed them without paying much heed, they made him their target. They started to chase him, pulling his shirt and calling him names. Usman kept walking without looking back at them. He just wanted to get home.

While Usman was focused on just getting home, he didn’t realise how close they had come to him. In his hurry, he dropped his notebook. Hassan leaned to pick the notebook for the sake of teasing him. Usman couldn’t let his notebook be in someone else’s possession. So, he pushed Hassan back, picked the book and ran as fast as he could, but Hassan was not going to let this go. He ran after him and Moiz reluctantly followed him.

They caught him near his house. Hassan snatched the notebook from him. When he opened the book, he saw that Usman had written something in it. Thinking that it was Usman’s diary and he would learn a few secrets, Hassan started reading with interest.

After a few minutes, Hassan had tears in his eyes. He hugged Usman apologetically and walked away with Moiz.

“Hassan, what did you do? We chased him for nothing,” Moiz was angry. Hassan’s softness confused him. “Say something, what was in that book?”

Hassan smiled tiredly, “What I read just now, it’s beyond your understanding.”

After that day, he never teased anyone in the neighbourhood, even he stopped other kids from bullying. His personality took a major shift and he became a good kid. Only Usman and Hassan knew what made him realise his wrong doings.

It was a sunny evening in winter, Hassan and Moiz were wandering in the park.

“Do you really want to know what happened that day?” he asked Moiz, who nodded in response. Hassan sighed with a heavy heart. “There was the story in the notebook, about a bully, who was left all alone because he hurt the people he came in contact with. Loneliness made him bitter. Before, he used to bully people to feel stronger, to show his power. Now his bitterness was because of his lack of empathetic company. Even after he grew up, no one liked to be with him. He regretted his actions as a boy, he couldn’t change the past. No one gave him love. Eventually he died all alone.”

Moiz was teary-eyed, he had never been this sorry for the pain he inflicted upon others for his own pleasures. They both apologised to the victims of their bullying and since that day they never bullied anyone, but helped others.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 20th, 2021

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