Image by Sumaiya Patel

 

When you have a diary, it’s like we imagine our life as a movie, worth talking about. Our diaries become our evidence of history, we pour our emotions and secrets into one book for years, and then lock it away, until it’s discovered accidentally when moving or cleaning out the room. That’s how I re-discovered my diary. We were packing away our belongings in preparation for moving house when I found my diary dated back to ’07. The book’s spine was ripped, my second name was scribbled all over the cover, many pages were left blank, while the pages that had some things written on it, were accessorised with colourful doodles of flowers. The first few pages brought a smile to my face, the last few pages dragged me into dark thoughts, followed by absolute resentment.

After primary school, Sumaiya wanted to study for secondary education at a boarding school. She knew it was a weird decision for her eleven-year-old self, but she felt she was responsible enough to make that decision. Her time in the boarding school was an interesting experience and she loved doing everything by herself, even though she was eleven and away from the people she loved. She aspired to memorise the Qur’an and make lifelong friends. Instead, people became her lifelong enemies.

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent building. Before the building became an Islamic college for girls, it was The Royal Albert Hospital or “The Royal Albert Asylum for idiots and imbeciles of the seven northern countries.” Whenever Sumaiya thinks about the school, she always believed that if it was still an asylum, Amelia would fit right in.

Amelia. Well, her face was pretty but I’m not too sure about her heart or brain, literally they’re both supposed to look unappealing, but if you hadn’t guessed already, I’m talking figuratively. Amelia was a few years older than me. I was eleven, and she was fourteen. She was truly a beautiful girl, I so desperately wanted to be friends with her but it’s unfortunate, well, it was unfortunate, that I couldn’t land in her good books but now, I’m quite thankful that I don’t really have any sort of relationship with her.

Sumaiya walked through the gates of the school, Jamea Al Kauthar in Lancaster. The magnificent sight of the school had her mesmerised. The architecture fitted perfectly with the dull sky and the were leafless trees surrounding the building. The windows reminded her of a church, they were long and ancient, as if they hadn’t been washed for centuries. She was assigned to a huge room with eight other girls. They all had their own beds, own cupboards and their own little bedside space. She was excited that she was going to share a room with people who shared the same belief as her. No one seemed like a stranger to her. When she entered the room with her mum, she chose her bed, right in the middle of the huge room. Two beds away from her, Amelia placed her bag on her bed. After a short introduction with everyone in the room, Sumaiya went down with her mum to drop her off and they said their final goodbyes. She said bye to her dad, her three brothers who had come to drop her off, and their family friend too. It was a teary farewell, she never hugged her dad for this long, and he had never held her this tight. It was awkward hugging her brothers, but their tears and weak hugs made her happy.

“So they do love me,” she thought to herself. With the family gone, there was a guilty pleasure from within her. She felt it was wrong of her to be this happy, away from the family but she couldn’t help herself.

After a month or so, when she had settled comfortably at this new place, there was a turn of events. Their harmonious room turned into a battlefield. It had been a long time since she smiled or laughed with her roommates since that incident.

I got on their nerves when I woke up for prayer, or when I couldn’t lie to the head girl to cover for them when they skipped meals or prayer. I didn’t know how to lie or how to say no. I did their dishes, which they kept on the window rotting away for weeks. I wasn’t allowed to wash them unless mould actually grew on their leftover cereal or their mac & cheese.

It all started when they came back from school, the boarding building was a five-minute walk from the main building and was situated right in the centre of the huge field that was part of the school. She ran to the toilets near her room, trying her best to hold it in, she pushed every door one after the other, every cubicle was full. Sumaiya tried so hard to hold it in. She paced up and down the hallways, and when she couldn’t hold it in standing, she thought sitting would be better, but her bed seemed so far from the door. At this point, Sumaiya was not willing to risk walking more than three steps. She chose to sit patiently on Jasmin’s bed. Her best friend’s bed, it was the closest to the door. The moment her bottom touched that bed, her bladder must have thought it was the toilet seat.

“No…no, no! What have I done!” Sumaiya stood up and looked at Jasmin’s bed. There was a huge wet patch on her cream duvet. Panic filled Sumaiya’s mind, spirit and soul, this was too embarrassing for her and she had no idea what to do. Very quickly she grabbed the pillow, placed it over the wet patch and ran outside.

“Hey, Sumi!” Jasmin bumped into her outside the door just as Sumaiya was about to flee the crime scene. She didn’t greet her back, she ran as fast as possible, as far as possible.

Hours later, hoping no one realised what she did, Sumaiya came back to the room, pretending that nothing had happened, fake-smiling so she could hide her criminal persona but she couldn’t keep the act up for long. Everyone surrounded Jasmin’s bed and as soon as she walked in, Amelia had a smirk on her face.

“Sumi, did you pee on my bed? I saw you running away from our room, and someone was knocking on the toilet doors. It was you, wasn’t it?”

Sumaiya panicked; she didn’t say anything. she could feel her ears becoming hot under her hijab, she could feel her lips trembling. She still hadn’t changed into clean clothes; she was wearing the same wet trousers.

“No. What are you talking about? What happened?”

Amelia laughed, and so did the other girls. She walked back to her bed and sat down. She pretended to brush her hair but Sumaiya caught her smiling to herself multiple times throughout this encounter. This was the first time she felt uneasy with her around. She wanted her to go, she knew that for as long as Amelia was in the room, she couldn’t tell Jasmin the truth.

It was at this point, that I really wanted to get violently physical with Amelia. Something was burning inside me, the fact that she smiled at every excuse I made, aggravated me, it was humiliation but I’m glad I didn’t. Only a fool would try to mess with the Ravan. Ravan, the demon from Hindu mythology, my nickname for Amelia, which I found written in my diary. Oh, I couldn’t stop laughing at my imagination. Hilarious!

It wasn’t long before Amelia sneaked up behind her and smelt her bottom, “Oh my god, she reeks of piss! Jasmin, I think we found the criminal.” Sumaiya turned around and saw Amelia smiling with her hands crossed.

Jasmin could speak, the call to prayer from the muezzin echoed in the hallways and seeped into our room. Everyone ran downstairs towards the main hall to get ready for the afternoon prayer, Dhuhr but Sumaiya stood still in the room in the exact same spot. It took her a few minutes to come back to her senses, she quickly washed and changed into a new maxi before she raced downstairs for prayer. She could see everyone but Amelia. Throughout the whole prayer, she wondered where Amelia could have gone, it’s not new that she missed prayer but for some reason, that day she felt uneasy at her absence.

After prayer, they had around three hours to spare before revision class, in the mosque building which was located at the far end of the school’s field. Sumaiya spent the three hours pleading guilty to Jasmin and saying sorry, at the same time, she could hear her other roommates snickering and laughing. she wanted to turn around and scream at all of them to shut up, but her cursed, innocent conscience wouldn’t allow it. They went to the revision session, she could hardly concentrate and revise for tomorrow’s exam. She was too busy planning an ‘I’m sorry’ event for Jasmin in her head. Everyone was either gossiping away or talking, only a handful of girls actually revised for the Qur’an exam.

Suddenly, Sumaiya heard one of the girls in her class say, “She covered it with the pillow.”

The girl then laughed quietly, probably hoping she didn’t hear her. Sumaiya’s hands started sweating immediately, she could feel her face burning, her eyes were swelling up, tears started to form a river on the line of her eye, piling up and up, waiting to run down her cheek.

“How do these girls know?” She thought only her roommates knew about this, and there was no way that they could ever tell other people. She realised that these girls were Amelia’s friends, she was sure Amelia was the one who told these girls everything! She thought about it harder, Amelia was the only one who knows these girls from their class.

I was angry, embarrassed, fuming and very humiliated.

The next two hours went by very slow, the girls couldn’t stop staring at Sumaiya throughout the lesson, accompanied by their demonic whispering. In her head, they were Amelia’s minions. Amelia was the demon, the Satan, the Ravan, she was everything to do with evil.

The revision sessions were over and Sumaiya hurried back to the main building in the dark, running through the crowd of girls, of which she could hear a few talking about how their revision went. She ran past the girls from her class, “she probably can’t hold it in again, that’s why she’s running like a maniac.” Sumaiya turned and gave them the look, gesturing that she heard them. As she reached the bedroom door, she could hear whispers and murmurs. When she opened the door she saw a figure running across the room, it was Amelia, she ran from Jasmin’s bed to her bed and there was Jasmin sitting on one end of her bed, away from the accident place. She hadn’t taken the sheets off yet.

“Wash it.” She said.

“Huh? Wash what?”

“You’re taking my duvet cover, my pillowcase, my duvet and my pillow to the laundry room and you’re going to wash it with your washing powder and your money. If you do that, I’ll forgive you.” Amelia fake coughed. Sumaiya looked at her and saw her smile at the ground. Jasmin wasn’t like this, she was the most forgiving girl. She was surprised that she asked her to do this, but Sumaiya couldn’t say no to her, it was her fault for ruining her bed, so she should fix it.

“Alright, but there’s really no need to act sassy, Jas.” Jasmin was flustered, she frowned at Sumaiya and was just about to say something when Amelia decided to involve herself.

“Well done, Sumi. That was very responsible of you, Jasmin’s going to be very happy with you when you wash it for her.” She gave her a warm smile, but Sumaiya felt cold. “Oh, and don’t forget to do the dishes, the cereal has probably got mould on it now.” she patted her bottom and walked out.

“Yeah, I’ll do it after the prayer.” And that’s when the call of the muezzin boomed through the building.

I was so pathetic.

Everything was going well for quite a while. Sumaiya was happy with Jasmin, Amelia was kinder and her roommates had forgotten about her little ‘accident.’ Sumaiya just had to go through six more years in this school. She hoped to graduate with her Islamic studies degree and walk out with lots of friends, but she could only dream.

The Ravan in Amelia awoke again. She began to do more cruel things to Sumaiya. It was Parents’ day at the school. Parents were allowed to come over and spend the day with their daughters. Sumaiya’s mum came but Amelia’s mum didn’t. The jealousy in Amelia wanted to hurt Sumaiya. After a joyous day, her mum left, on her way out, she gave Sumaiya two hundred pounds to spend for the next two months. Sumaiya was very content, she had never received this much money before, she started to desire for everything that was in the school tuck shop. Her mother planted a very hard, yet soothing kiss on her forehead before she headed back to London. Both of started to tear up, her mother turned around and headed for the door.

Sumaiya ran upstairs with her wad of cash, she couldn’t wait to show it to Jasmin. When she burst the room door open, all eyes were on her, but that was the least of her worries.

“Jas, Look!” She foolishly waved her money around and even though she only wanted to show it to Jasmin, there was a little bit in her that wanted her to show it off to everyone in the room. It most certainly caught the eyes of Amelia.

“Hey, has anyone seen my money?” It was a sudden question, and very coincidental. Amelia started to feel under her pillow, went to her cupboard and then fixed her eyes on Sumaiya. “Where did you get that from?” She pointed to Sumaiya’s two hundred pounds grasped in her hands.

“What do you mean? My mum gave it to me. Wait…” Sumaiya knew what was going to come. She was about to receive the biggest blow from Amelia.

“Where did your mum get it from?” Everyone in the room had their eyes on them. Sumaiya looked at Jasmin with pleading eyes, hoping Jasmin would intervene and save her from this torment, but Jasmin stared blankly at the windows, almost as though she didn’t want to see the pleading eyes.

This was the end for me, I could take anything from anyone, but if anyone spoke utter nonsense about my mum, they were not going to get away with it.

“My mum is no thief, but you are.” She had enough. She went straight for Amelia and grabbed both of Amelia’s hands and crossed them over behind her back. “Everyone, Amelia has money in her bra! I saw her put something in her bra earlier and I’m pretty sure it’s her money.” Everyone looked at Amelia waiting for her to retaliate, instead, she pushed Sumaiya away and ran out the room. It was her first win against Amelia and she didn’t plan on fighting anymore.

The next day, she called her mum and asked her to pick her up and take her back to London.

I had enough, I realised that it was every man for themselves. I coldly said goodbye to Jasmin, not forgetting that she threw our friendship out of the window, most probably the same window she stared at blankly.

Sumaiya Patel

Sumaiya Patel

Sumaiya is a Muslim-Indian who lives in London with the aspiration to tackle stereotypes of minorities within the UK through her writing. She currently writes for her own blog, addressing the issues of Islamophobia, misconceptions of Islam, racism and other issues of discrimination. Besides writing for her own blog, she is very passionate about her Korean, while she uses most of her free time to master the Arabic language. Sumaiya is pursuing a career to teach English at secondary and above level, aiming to empower the minds of young people through reading and writing.