It was the first day in my new school. I woke up and dragged my feet to the washroom to freshen up and change into my school uniform. After getting ready, I slowly came to mum and I told her I was pretty nervous about how others would react as I was a new admission.

She lovingly reassured me, “Everything is going to be just fine. All you have to do is be respectful to others.”

After breakfast, I grabbed my bag and when the school bus arrived, I quickly jumped on. I noticed everyone looking at me and whispering. I wanted to sit with the boy in the front seat, but he rudely told me to sit at the back. I found a guy sitting alone in the right corner of the bus, so I asked if I could sit with him. He welcomed me.

After I sat down, we introduced ourselves. His name was Anas and I told him mine was Ali. He was a courteous and humble boy, and I was happy to find out that he was going to be in my class. When we reached the school, my new friend comforted me, saying he knew I was nervous, but he was there to help if I needed any assistance.

During first lesson, Ms Mariam called me to introduce myself to the whole class. I was about to introduce myself when I noticed some boys making funny faces and laughing at me. I remained composed and introduced myself and then went to sit with Anas.

During recess, a boy made fun of me, but Anas confronted him. I talked kindly to the boy who bullied me, and he was shocked and embarrassed. I never left any opportunity to tell my classmates about the importance of being polite and humble to everyone.

Despite my best efforts, there were three bullies in the class who continued to misbehave, causing trouble for others. One day, they punctured the tyre of the school bus. The next day, as I was walking home, they planned to push me into a mud puddle. But unfortunately, when the time arrived, they slipped and fell in it themselves.

The puddle was deep, so the more they tried to get up, the more they slipped into it.

“Dear Ali, we promise that we will never hurt or tease anyone. Please take us out,” one of the boys said.

I realised that everyone makes mistakes so I should give them a second chance. I told them not to panic and I would find a way to get them out of there.

I looked around and saw a tree with thick, low branches. I quickly went and broke a long branch and came to the boys and told them to hold on to it. Then one by one, with the help of the branch, I pulled them out of the puddle.

The boys were very embarrassed and regretful about their behaviours. They apologised sincerely and we all became good friends. Afterwards, they treated everyone with respect and never troubled anyone.

Respect and good manners are the secret ingredients of strong relationships that help us communicate and make others feel valued. So always be kind and considerate in your interactions, it’s a small and simple act, but it can make a big difference.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 1st, 2024

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