A note to the school back-bencher

Published: May 30, 2014

I look back and I see how you were the one who really made something out of the time given to you.

Dear Back-bencher,

How are you?

I hope you are doing well. I really wish this from the bottom of my heart.

Let me start by saying how sorry I am to judge you.

I remember that time in school, when I was a snob and you were the guy who teased everyone, including myself. I was wrong to react the way I did towards your attitude towards life. I would secretly smirk when teachers would scold you. And I know I didn’t even talk to you, but I tried my best to be nice to you, simple because I felt sorry for you.

You didn’t seem to have any idea about the mess you were getting yourself into by being the black sheep of the whole lot of us, the lot of us who just painted white onto our brown wool. But you were black through and through, and it made you stand out. You were the subject of everyone’s humiliation and you were the punch lines of everyone’s jokes.

The teachers made you feel so timid, lost and confused, like some dirt bag nobody was supposed to touch. Your filth was thought to be contagious. You were the lowest of the lows, and you were a bad influence. Parents warned us to stay away from kids like you; kids who will ruin our futures, kids who wasted time and didn’t study, kids who were not meant to be anything but losers.

Yes, you were a loser and everyone hated you.

Now let’s talk about me.

I was the guy who everyone loved. I was the teachers’ pet. I was the guy who followed rules and lived life through what others wanted him to be. My life was supposed to be perfect. I had everything handed to me and I never complained about the direction I was heading in. But that was until I plunged deep into the life everyone idolises.

I lost it when I dived in. Like everyone else. But not like you.

You were the kind of person who took things slowly. You lived in the moment while all of us were busy focusing on the future that was blurry. But we were so sure, so busy knowing how it would be that we forgot to live in the present. And now, when everything is crumbling in my world, I see it all so clearly; how you had the right to be who you were. I think you knew all along how superficial all of this is, how we got dragged down this hole of imperfection where life is the thorn in our backs pushing us to just keep bleeding and keep going.

I look back and I see how you were the one who really made something out of the time given to you. You are studying at a non-prestigious university, but you got admission somewhere else as well. And those five years in uniform, with the top button unbuttoned, were just a facade, where I should have known you were on to something.

You knew that life will be tough, so you enjoyed every bit of it before it trapped you too. You bunked classes and I didn’t, and you got to have all the fun while I missed out on it, not knowing that I would never get to see my friends again, while you had the time of your life with them. You ate all you could, while I watched my weight knowing it might damage my health, not knowing we’ll die anyway, anyhow. You read novels that you wanted while text books seemed to eat up my life, you went to concerts, you ate out a lot, and you just had fun. While I focused on getting ahead in life, you got stuck in the present. And then, when I entered the real life, I realised what hit me – reality. It hit me hard. And it took me so long to realise, which I think you had known back in school.

I wish I had wasted my time learning and figuring out who I am, spent more time having fun and living life. All because now I have anything but time. And when I had it, I didn’t value it, like you did.

I am sorry for the way people like me bullied you for what and who you were in school.

I wish I had known better.

Seeking your forgiveness,

Star-student (who didn’t know any better)

Haseeb Sultan

Haseeb Sultan

The author is is a dentist, writer, and an artist. He blogs at blog.haseebsultan.com and tweets at @haseebsultan_ (twitter.com/haseebsultan_)

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