Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

Haroon was the only son of his parents. His had been brought up with a lot of love and care. However, this wasn’t enough to make him happy about his complexion, which was a bit dark. So whenever he looked into the mirror, he would feel sad and wonder why he didn’t have a fairer complexion.

Haroon wouldn’t have felt this way if some of his classmates didn’t make fun of him. There were particular boys in Haroon’s class, Ali and his friends, who would make fun of almost everyone and didn’t spare Haroon too. Sometimes Haroon would go to the bathroom and cry for he couldn’t bear the mockery.

One day, when Haroon entered the class, Ali and his friends started calling him black and ugly. Haroon turned pale, but said nothing. Later, there was a football match during which Ali and his friends pushed Haroon and made him fall. Haroon got severely injured. He knew that Ali had done it deliberately, but he remained silent. When Haroon returned home, his mother inquired about the injury, but he lied that he had fallen from the staircase and hurt himself.

Haroon went to his room and cried a lot. For the next three days, Haroon could not go to the school due to his injuries. His studies were important for him as he was a hard-working and capable child. So missing his classes disturbed him more than his injuries.

When Haroon went to the school after a few days, he could not see Ali anywhere. He sighed in relief as he realised Ali had not come to school that day. The next day too Haroon didn’t see Ali anywhere, but saw Ali’s friends looking a bit sad, sitting in the corner of the class and whispering to each other.

Haroon went up to them and asked what the matter was. One of them told him that a couple of days back, Ali was helping his mother in kitchen when his mother went out to bring something. As Ali had no idea about cooking utensils, the sound of the pressure cooker on the stove intrigued him and he tried to open it while it was still on the stove. The lid opened with a blasted and flew in the air, as did the contents of the cooker, which fell over Ali’s face, burning it badly. He was now in the hospital, being treated for serious burns.

Haroon was shocked to learn that and he decided to go and meet Ali in the hospital. So that day after school, Haroon, along with his mother, went to see Ali. It had been a few days since the incident so Ali was stable now, though half of his face, including one eye, was covered with some ointments and patches of bandages.

The moment Ali saw Haroon, he couldn’t control his tears. It was evident that Ali was in guilt and was sorry for how he had hurt poor Haroon. Both the boys looked at each other and said nothing, while Haroon’s mother consoled Ali and his mother.

After Haroon had left, Ali pondered over his actions and realised he had mistreated not only Haroon, but so many other boys in his school and neighbourhood. He also felt ashamed of his actions and was full of regret. On his part, Haroon prayed for the health and quick recovery of Ali and harboured no hard feelings.

After about a month, Ali returned to school and he was nearly cured except for some dark brown spots from the burn injuries on his face. But, as a person, Ali had changed completely and now he said sorry to everyone he had teased and hurt before. He became humble and showed empathy towards everyone.

Everyone was delighted to see this change and soon Ali became very good friends with Haroon. Ali learnt his lesson, but learnt it the hard way!

Published in Dawn, Young World, August 6th, 2022

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