Hi readers, the following is a story I wrote for an English task at my last school. Attached is a statement of intention. It’s a long read but I hope you enjoy!
My name is Aryan Muhammad and four years ago, I crossed the line.
I was born in the summer of ’00 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I now live in Melbourne, Australia, and attend Palacent Boys College. My mother died when I was born and my dad is in Dhaka jail over alleged terrorism charges. I live with foster parents and my thirteen biological elder brothers. Times are always tough, with our financial and social status within the thriving community. Being a Muslim has exposed me to constant racism, both in and out of school.
When I first attended Palacent Boys College, I was asked to give an introduction about myself to the class. I am an honest person, and the thought of a cover story to shadow the ugly truth was not the right thing to do, so I explained to them how I came to be.
“When I was born, in Dhaka National Hospital, my mother died a few hours after giving birth to me. I was brought up for eleven years under the gifted guidance of my father, who taught me all moral responsibilities in life. I attended a small primary school, and we were a tight-knit pack who helped each other out. In 2011, my father was falsely framed for working for a terror organisation. What was worse was that the person who framed him had been a family friend of ours ever since I was born. My father was sent to a maximum-security jail for life. The police took me and my thirteen elder brothers to foster parents, people from the other side of town we’d never heard from or come across. They decided, against my siblings’ wishes, to immigrate to Australia. We rented an apartment with the help of a bank loan, and with the last pennies in our pockets, paid for education here at this school.”
The class was, quite frankly, shocked. In Bangladesh, we were always nice to each other, and empathised in each other’s problems. I quickly grew to learn that in a large place like Melbourne, this was not the case. What I had expected was some verbal gratitude, what I received was physical harassment. Within the first three hours of being at school, I had earned at least three nicknames for each class. People called me a terrorist, orphan, and all sorts of other scandalous sobriquets. No-one was appreciative of my background, they thought I was a shady nobody who would grow to be homeless. Even the teachers’ demeanour became politically incorrect towards me. They would ask me questions like, “Do you support the fact that girls are not allowed an education in Afghanistan?”
But, despite the constant struggles, I remained strong.
I remained hopeful, and mentally powerful.
Although I did not expect this sort of reaction to my past, I embraced it and took it as a notion that would be able to build my personality into something that I would be known for. Everything the school threw at me, I knew that they were wrong. I knew that being a Muslim was not an indication that I was a terrorist, but a humble, frivolous character whose values shone out in defining me.
Soon, the whole community knew about me, and the taunting and heartbreaking comments I received spread like a wildfire outside of school. When I joined the cross-country team, even my opponents from other schools would tease me before, after and even during the race. Whilst I was running, they’d push past me with intended aggression and scream out words of utter brutality. The feeling was is if I was being shot at by an archer or a gunman.
But through thick and through thin, I did not break.
I did not crumble into darkness and leave an imprinted image stating a message of cowardice and pusillanimity.
Some nights, I tried to consult my brothers on how they deal with the situation, hoping that their cultivated knowledge would be able to set me a direct path and approach to the long-term situation. They would offer their best condolences, but did not have a strong message that stood out from mere sympathy. Though I did not blame them. They too, were facing troubles at school, and there was simply not enough time to deal with the situation. My foster parents were working hard to keep us happy and healthy, and it was for that reason I decided not to pursue to subject with them, worried that they already had plenty of things to think about.
Despite always being the centre of victimisation, I was able to make one trustworthy companion. His name was Jared Samuels, a Christian boy who stood up for what I believed in. He and I would play handball during the school breaks, and talk together in class. He told me that he believed my father was innocent. I was rather intrigued by this thought and asked him why, without any materialistic evidence, he believed me so much. He said he was inspired by my introductory talk at the front of class, and praised my courage for standing up for what I thought was right, despite being put up against so many people. This made me feel joyful. But it was what he said next that made my heart leap.
“My father is a lawyer. I’ve told him about your dad. He said he is willing to help. Would you like to come over to my place this afternoon so we can talk about it?”
I was more flustered than anything else, but after a few seconds, I realised this was the perfect opportunity to solve everything. I agreed to his invitation, and before I knew it, school had finished and I was sitting at the desk of Mr Samuels.
Mr Samuels was a very smart man, both metaphorically and literally. He told me it was a huge bonus for him because he’d been looking for a big case for four and a half months. I told him it was going to be hard to free my father of a crime he didn’t commit, because a lot of authorities and officials in Bangladesh are corrupt, and do anything for money, be it right or wrong. He replied sheerly with confidence, doubtless certainty to get there in the end. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the sudden invite of help, and also the respectful hospitality I received upon entering the Samuels’ house. Jared’s mother had been quick to offer me drinks and snacks, and also gave me her benignancy in relation to the issue.
From then on, at least three times a week I would visit the Samuels’ house, and each time Jared’s father and I would work one step closer to freeing my wrongfully convicted father. Their home became a place of hope and blissfulness, it was almost like a second dwelling to my own house. After Jared’s father and I would discuss all the legal matters, Jared would come into the room and we would spend quality time together. We would discuss the latest video games, sport news and academia for school. And each time I left their house to return to my own home, a dawn of light would reflect in my new-found smile, and the message carved into my eyes was of optimism and prosperity, knowing that someday, justice would be served. Not only would my father be set free, but the modern-world issue of racism would be solved, and people would truthfully execute their moral values.
We are all human beings. No religion, nationality or skin tone is superior or inferior to another. The innovation-inspired positivity of today’s world is overshadowed by its issues. Racism is something that can be permanently halted if all of us make the effort. No spiritual belief is incorrect. We all look upon them through different eyes, through a different perspective. No-one should have the right to disenable anything you say or do based on your race. Whatever religion you are, whatever skin complexion you have, whatever your nationality is, it is important that you are proud of it.
Statement of Intention
I chose to change the story but convey the same message of the memoir, ‘Crossing the Line’, written by Bronwyn Bancroft. The story is about a girl whose father was Aboriginal and mother was a white settler. Throughout her life, she experienced racism, and wrote about how being a ‘tweener’, meaning cross between a black person and a white person forced her into a corner of victimisation and disgrace and hatred. Contrarily to how she was approached, she adored the fact that she had Aboriginal descent, and spoke from the heart about places she loved spending time at, such as the lake, where she could swim to her heart’s content, forgetting about the harsh realities she faced in her life. The message of the text was that she was persistent and proud of her heritage, and refused to believe that she was an outcast.
What I did with this story was modernised it, keeping the previously mentioned message of the story constant, but exploring the problems of today’s world, covering topics such as being the ‘new kid’ in school to going as far as the problem of terrorism today.
The story is told from the perspective of a Bangladeshi emigrant, whose father is in prison over terror allegations and mother is dead. He is a constant bullying victim at school, and his teachers are of no help to him. But, just like in ‘Crossing the Line’, he remains mentally positive and strong, and works with his lawyer and best friend to free his father, who was falsely accused, and be the symbolic ambassador in racism.
The story does not finish on whether the emigrant’s father was eventually freed or not, this is because it distracts the reader from the main message of the story.
Overall, the message conveyed is in strong relation to identity; both Aboriginal and modernised. It is a battle that seems impossible to win, but through the practice of displaying values, is victorious from the former victim.