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The Light, the Darkness, and Zahra

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Zahra turned off her tablet when she finished her homework, got up from her desk, and then laid down on her bed. She had a beautiful room: a bed, a small desk with a chair, and a big picture of the high roller (which was her and her best friend Yasmine’s favorite form of entertainment) hanging on the wall in front of her bed.

The high roller is a giant Ferris wheel that gives the best view of the city of Las Vegas. Zahra and Yasmine loved going to the Las Vegas Strip and spending joyful times riding the high roller.

“You are an amiable girl,” said the Light to little Zahra.

“I don’t feel very amiable right now. I don’t want to lose my best friend,”  replied Zahra.

“Ignore her, Zahra! She doesn’t agree with you,” said the Darkness.

Zahra was dwelling on a virtual movie night she recently had with her friends. They had stopped having sleepovers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead they watched movies online together. However, she got into a big argument with Yasmine about the last movie, and since that day she has been flustered and frustrated. They each had a different point of view about the movie and it ended up turning into a big virtual fight among all the friends.

They split into two camps; Zahra’s group and Yasmine’s group, and the members of the different groups stopped talking to one another.

Despite having enjoyed watching the movie together, the friends ruined it in the end because they moved from having fun together to arguing about something that did not matter.

Zahra, a little 10-year-old girl with curly hair and beautiful chocolate skin lives with her parents in the city of Las Vegas.  Her best friend is Yasmine. Zahra and Yasmine go to the same school, along with their other friends, and live in the same neighborhood. The two girls shared everything together— secrets, toys, books, memories, and their free time. Sometimes they are on the same page, and sometimes they do not agree with each other, but they never want to fight.

After the argument about the movie, Zahra’s thoughts became two opposing voices arguing their respective sides: the first one is the Light, who is always positive and encourages her to make good decisions; the other one is the Darkness, who is always negative and  encourages her to make bad decisions. Zahra discusses everything with them and the Light always has a different point of view from the Darkness.

This morning, Zahra woke up early to get herself ready to attend online school. When she saw her Yasmine on the small screen of her tablet she wished she could hug her friend and tell her, “I am sorry.” 

“Don’t talk to her, Zahra! How dare she tell you she didn’t like the movie?” said the Darkness, interrupting her positive thoughts. Zahra shook her head, put on an angry face, and responded, “Yes, you are right, I’m upset with her.”

“If she says sorry, don’t accept that,” said the Darkness.

“If she said sorry, I would accept her apology.”

“No, Zahra, she is not your friend anymore.”

“Why not?”

“She disagreed with you. Friends have to agree with each other all the time.”

“But …”

“Listen to me, I know better than you,” said the Darkness.

“No, Zahra, don’t listen to Darkness; Yasmine is your best friend,” exclaimed the Light, interrupting the conversation between Zahra and the Darkness.

“Yes, she is my best friend; however, I cannot trust her,” said Zahra.

“You’re right, Zahra, don’t trust her again,” said the Darkness.

“Why, Zahra? What did she do to you?” asked the Light.

“She disagreed with me.” said Zahra.

“If she disagreed with you, that doesn’t mean she is not your friend or that she is bad,” said the Light.

“She is bad, Zahra, don’t believe what the Light is telling you,” said the Darkness.

Just then, the class began. Zahra kept her attention on the lesson and the teacher. During the lunch break, the two friends used to talk together, but now they ignored each other. The online classes resumed, and when the class was over, all the students went offline.

Zahra waited until the weekend to go online with her group; they were angry and upset with the other group. They set to work thinking of ways to tease and annoy the other group. One group members suggested they make jokes about them to the school; another person suggested that they make that joke in their class group, not the whole school. Internally, Zahra did not like either of those suggestions. She did not want to embarrass her friend. Even though she was upset with Yasmine, she still loved her.

“What happened, Zahra? Why are you acting so differently,” asked the Light  when he found Zahra  lying  in bed unable to sleep.

“She didn’t change,” said the Darkness. “She is doing the right thing.”

“I am confused. I don’t know what to do,” said Zahra.

Usually, Zahra is a gentle and sensitive girl and she had never willfully hurt any of her friends before. All the students at the school loved her. However, ever since a new girl joined the class and became friends with Zahra, she had changed. The new girl struggled to make friends in the class, except for Zahra, who helped her to adjust to the school. The new girl was hurt that the other students did not embrace her, so she wanted to retaliate against them by dividing them. She decided to do this by causing problems between Zahra and Yasmine.  Owing to the influence of the new girl, Zahra have behaved differently with her friends, becoming a little impatient and aggressive.  

Zahra and most of her school friends lived in the same neighborhood. They knew each other well, and their parents knew each other too, because they used to have big parties and let the kids sleep over.

Although the feuding groups were thinking about how to get back at each other, there were still a few friends who kept neutral and preferred not to get involved in this fight. Both groups tried to attract the neutral students to their side. Fortunately, most of their efforts failed and the students stayed neutral, but the two groups still tried to get news about the other group from the neutral friends.

The tension was high between the two groups, and Zahra got very  angry when she heard  that her opposing group would be holding an online meeting that she decided to hold a big party at the same time just to annoy them.

“I feel sorry for you, Zahra,” said the Light.

“Why,” she asked.

“Because you are not our beloved Zahra anymore,” said the Light.

“What should I do? I can’t let them get to us,” said Zahra.

“Go back to your peaceful soul Zahra,” said the Light.

“I am in the right here,” said Zahra.

“Being right is not the point, Zahra. We don’t act this way with our loved ones,” said the Light.

“Yasmine is no longer my best friend,” said Zahra.

“She didn’t do anything bad to you,” said the Light.

“Yes, she did,” said Zahra.

“Even if she disagrees with you, she is not wrong. It’s okay for her to disagree,” said the Light.

Zahra kept silent, and the Light continued, “You have to choose whether you are the goodness, the kindness, and the light, or you are the badness, the unkindness, and the darkness.”

“I can’t take back what I have said to my group,” said Zahra.

“Yes, you can. Tell them they are going in the wrong direction, and it is better to change your path and go back,” said the Light.

“They will not trust me,” said Zahra.

“How the others look at you does not matter, Zahra. It does not matter if the others judge you. What matters is how you look at yourself and how you judge your own behavior,” said the Light.

“Do you think my group will accept that?”

“Do what you know is right and they will follow your lead, As Yasmine’s best friend, if you change your mind, they will too. When you believe in the light, you do what is right. That is what God wants from you.”

The Light felt that he had touched Zahra’s heart, and he continued: 

“Bad behavior hurts our own soul far more than it hurts others. Good behavior gives our soul healing, gives us inner peace, and makes us reconcile, accept, and agree with our inner self. Before you look for agreement with others, look for it in yourself.” he continued. Your problem is not with Yasmine. Your problem is between you and yourself, between your Light and Darkness. It is about who will win and control your inner heart.”

The Light left Zahra with those words and Zahra kept thinking about them until she fell asleep. When she awoke the next morning, she laid in bed wondering what to do?

“Hey Zahra! Don’t listen to the Light; I heard your conversation with him last night,” said the Darkness.

“I am confused!” said Zahra.

“Do not be confused. You have to make them pay.”

“She is my best friend; it is okay if we have different points of view.”

“No girl, she chose her opinion and other friends over you.”

“I started this.”

“Even so, she has to respect you.”

Zahra did not say anything, and the Darkness continued: “You have to show her you are not a pushover. You have to teach her a lesson that she will never forget.”

Zahra felt he was right, she needed to maintain her dignity.

She got up from the bed. It was a weekend, so she did not have to get ready for school. Instead, she went to her online meeting with her group, and they decided to prepare to retaliate.

In three days, Zahra’s class was having a music contest. Yasmine was well-known in the school for her mastery of music; she was the best at playing the guitar.

The contest was being coordinated by the teachers, and they were letting the students interact and offer their reactions to the performances. The prize for  first place was  two tickets to the high roller, and Yasmine promised Zahra before the disagreement, that if she won,  they would go together. 

The contest was virtual, with the entire school attending all the administrators and teachers. When Yasmine began playing the guitar, Zahra and her group started to boo and shout “too bad, too bad, too bad.” When a teacher asked them to be quiet, they refused to comply. She was forced to mute all the students’ voices, but it was too late. Yasmine was now panicked, stressed, and couldn’t do her excellent performance. As a result, she lost the contest; she didn’t even place in the first three positions.

The school opened an investigation into the incident, and the consequences was that Zahra and her group got suspended from the school for three days.

“Are you happy now, Zahra,” asked the Light when he found Zahra lying in her bed.

 She had been crying and covered her face with her hands.

“Don’t cry, sweetheart, sometimes we need to make mistakes to help us learn and make progress.”

“I am not sad because I got punished; I am sad because I thought retaliating against Yasmine would make me happy,” said Zahra in a weak voice.

“Remember what I told you, – bad behavior hurts our own soul before it ever hurts others,” said the Light.  “ The soul needs to be fed with healing, forgiveness, and unity continued the Light”

“You are right, said Zahra. I lost myself when I chose to follow the Darkness. From now on, I know that my soul needs the Light to illuminate my Darkness.  I need the Light to brighten my inner soul, and my soul needs the Light to make me a luminary in the Darkness,” said Zahra.  

“I’m proud of you, Zahra. Go and reunite with your friends. Yasmine is a true sister to you; she is not your enemy.”

“Yes, that’s true, Light,” said Zahra and continued, “Let our Light brighten our Darkness, heal our broken hearts, and unite us against divisions.”

 Zahra asked her mom if she could invite Yasmine to lunch with them on the Las Vegas Strip.  She apologized to Yasmine and promised to never again take sides against her. They agreed that they could have different opinions and remain friends.  Zahra and Yasmine ate lunch and enjoyed their favorite place, the high roller.

MAHA GABIR

2/27/2021

Maha Gabir

Hi, I am a journalist, a girl from Sudan who has found a new home in America. Through my writing, I want to touch the hearts of the readers and most of all connect with kids.

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