‘Be flawless’ written in white letters on the black poster above the classroom door. Walking into the full classroom was always the most horrifying experience of Hadiyahs school day. Everybody’s eyes lay on her as she stood on the threshold, taking a deep breath before walking to the empty desk in the back of the classroom. She pretended to ignore the facial expressions of her classmates as she passed them. They weren’t exactly her mates, more like people who accepted her existence in their class. She rushed to her desk, desperate to sit down without being the middle of all the attention. As she sat, Hadiyah realised she was still holding her breath.
Once her heart stopped racing, she realised how quiet it was. Too quiet. By the time she looked up, the classroom burst into laughter. Her name was in big capital letters on the board in front of her, slurs drawn around it like a mind map. She had heard it all before, but as always TERRORIST cut the deepest. “Don’t cry, don’t let them see your pain”, her sister used to say, “your eyes are the window to your soul”. In fact, they were the only thing that could reveal her feelings and emotions, since everything else was covered in her Niqab. She would give everything to be normal, just for one day. She wanted to be like all the other students. One day without being different, not being an outsider but instead, fitting into the school like a perfect match. In this society everybody looked the same except for the NSEs which stands for New Society Endangerer. The war against Middle East had pointed out that all Muslims were terrorists and must be kept in special Islamist camps, shielded by security guards with their bloodthirsty dogs at the gates.
Ms Millen entered the room, which stopped her thoughts and brought her back into the plain classroom. The teacher inspected the board, without showing interest in the repetitive action. Her eyes remaining cold and empty. Hadiya’s emotion bracelet turned orange, indicating her pain and anger. Calm down, she thought, do not let it turn red. She once saw the black/white police troop marching into the NSE camp, hoisting a man out of his apartment with a red light shining on his arm. His eyes were empty when they brought him back into the camp.
Pushing this thought to the back of her head, she tried focusing on the students around her. Everybody was wearing the same white uniform. Her black Niqab was standing out like a blemish on a clean plate. People think they want to be different but the truth was everybody wanted to be the same. Life was only enjoyable if you are flawless.
Holding that thought, she noticed the girl next to her which was wearing a pink hair-tie instead of a white one. Why on earth would she want to be different? Why would she put herself voluntarily in this position? Hadiyah felt the anger swell up to her head but her emotion bracelet reminded her like a warn sign before entering a danger zone.
The girl had a choice and she chose to stand out while Hadiyah would give everything for one day of being just like the others. She imagined walking into the school with the white silk dress flattering around her body almost as if she wasn’t wearing anything at all. The wind that arises while passing other students would swirl through her long brown hair, and she would walk along the corridor with elegance, pride and confidence. Being one in a crowd. Fitting into the school like a perfect match. Being flawless. Nobody could determine whether she was one of the other students or not. She could be normal. Maybe she would even have friends. She wouldn’t have to sit separate at lunch or in the classroom, fitting into the society would make her life easy and after time, they would even appreciate her as a person with a genuine personality.
The bell rang. The sharp sound cutting through the silence in her head. Indicating it was time to leave the class, but it was so much more. It was a wakeup call. She made her decision and one last look at the girls pink hair-tie reinsured her in her decision. This was her last day of being a spot in a flawless society.