Reflections On Paper

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Written by Hajra Salman

Sign up! Ready for a pure scientific challenge? Grade 6, 7 and 8 students are invited with their projects on the national science fair at Schon grounds on Thursday, 5th May. The projects will be viewed, judged and then awarded. The winner of the best project will not only get an A on science but will get access to the government science laboratory.
“Oh goody!” Rabia said, signing her name in bold letters. She was standing in front of her school’s announcement board with her class-mate, Safia.
She paused as Safia turned to leave. “Wait! Aren’t you signing up? You love science and all the crazy experiments,” Rabia asked in a surprised tone.
“I can’t. I so want to… but I got a C on the last test as I wasn’t prepared and Miss Sana said I can’t participate,” Safia said.
“It’s okay. You can work with me on my project if you want,” Rabia offered. She knew that Safia’s passion for science was more than hers.
“But it won’t be the same! Let’s think up project ideas! How about….”
“What a fabulous idea! I love it. You rock!” Rabia hugged her.
“Agreed…” Safia paused, “that I rock,” Safia giggled as Rabia ran after her.
Next day, Safia arrived at their planned time at Rabia’s house. Rabia greeted her and led her to the basement.
“I don’t think you need to buy anything except for silver nitrate. You already have so much scientific stuff in here,” Safia said.
“I like experimenting and collecting science objects,” Rabia told her.
After a bowl of chips, they set to work. An hour passed in sweat and seriousness.
“This is way too hard and complicated,” Safia groaned.
“But a winner,” Rabia reminded her, rubbing her aching elbows.
The project formation was going to take long hours but both got back to work happily.
“Are you going to hide your project from me? Your best friend in the world, who keeps up with your silliness? Your best friend who…’ Rabia was cut off as her best friend Asma shushed her, “No black mailing is going to work on me this time, this is serious, girlfriend.”
“Okay peace! You won’t tell me, I won’t tell you. Deal,” Rabia smiled.
The class was buzzing with excitement. Everyone was teasing each other about their projects and heated discussions were going on. Safia was sitting alone. She didn’t know what to do as she wasn’t participating. Everyone was too excited to think of her.
***
“Shhh…” Rabia whisper-giggled.
“Hey quick! Pull the scarf here… it’s showing,” Safia said.
Both were hiding the project inside Rabia’s locker like smugglers.
“The best project that I am gonna win!” Rabia said with confidence.
“I helped too, you know.” Safia said in a strange emotional voice and just then… crash! The project slipped from Safia’s hands and Rabia alone couldn’t take hold of it as it was too heavy. It fell on the floor and broke into ten, hundred, thousands of pieces.
“I…” Safia opened her mouth but the rage in Rabia’s heart shut her off. “Get lost…” Rabia shouted. Her head felt hot and tears stung her eyes.
“I am sorry!” Safia said.
“You ruined my project… I worked hours on it, my back is still aching from working non-stop. You did it on purpose didn’t you? Cause you couldn’t participate then why let me win?”
“I worked hard with you too,” Safia reminded her. 
“But you knew my name would come, your work didn’t matter… credit was going to be mine,” Rabia screamed.
“What’s going on in here?” Miss Sana hurried towards them.
“Ma’am she broke my project on purpose. She was jealous of me.”
“No ma’am I….”
“Keep quiet Safia, if you couldn't enter the competition it didn’t mean that you could break someone else’s project,” Miss Sana said angrily. 
With tears brimming Safia ran to the bathroom. A few pieces of mirror stuck to her feet and blood came out but she was too hurt to care.
That day was not too good for Rabia herself as she watched the other girls show off their projects and win prizes while she cleared the mess of her own project. She barely survived the day. She entered her house and ran down to the basement unsure of what to do.
There was mess of her project there too. To calm her raging mind, she started clearing up and their lay a piece of paper with Safia’s hand writing on it. 
“You are the person who loves science just like me and I helped you make my dream project for you. I hope you win, even though I worked hard with you but I did it because I love science. It doesn’t matter if I am not participating. If you don’t win, don’t be sad. Think that you did it for your love of science. You are in the kitchen while I write this. I’ve already said thanks to you but I’ll say it again. Thank you for letting me help. Safia.” 
Rabia stared at the paper. It wasn’t just a paper, it was a reflection. What had she done? She had blamed her helpful and true friend. In anger she had said what she shouldn’t have. How was she going to say sorry now? How was she going to make it up to her best friend? A piece of paper maybe a great idea to say thanks but she knew she had to say sorry face to face. Taking her abaya she left for Safia’s house, to see her and tell her how sorry she was!