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I glared at her across the classroom. I don’t know why she bugs me so much, she just does. I saw that she was crying and elbowed Cathy. She sniggered and whispered to the guy sitting next to her. I didn’t take my eyes off her. She pulled an envelope out of her pocket and stared at it. I stood up to go and snatch it off her but the bell went and she rushed out of the classroom. I glared after her.
Her name was Karima. She moved here a month ago. She’s a refugee. Just when I see her I get angry. I can’t control it.
Cathy and I grabbed some food from the café and dumped our trays on our usual table. I looked around for Karima but I knew she wouldn’t be here. I’ve never seen her eat. I know she goes to the Children’s Home nearby, but I don’t think they do lunchtime meals.
We were early to P.E. and bumped into Karima there. She was looking at that stupid envelope again. I ran up and snatched it off her. She squeaked and tried to grab it off me. I was a lot taller than her and it was easy to keep it out of her reach.
It was a photograph from her home country. She was sitting in some sort of garden with what looked like her parents and two brothers. There was a letter with it. It was in a strange language.
“What the hell is this? Are you b****ing about us to your family?” She shook her head. She looked scared and I enjoyed having the power over her. “Read it and don’t lie to us. I’ll know if you do.” I shoved her letter to her.
“I… I don’t want to.” She looked like she was going to cry again.
“Your so pathetic. You should be happy that you’re here, you ungrateful little…” Cathy grabbed hold of her and she started trembling.
“Cathy. Let her read it.” She shook her head. “Okay then.” I took the photo and started to rip it.
“No! Okay, I’ll read it.” Tears came down her face. I folded my arms. She sniffed and unfolded the letter. “Dear mama, I hope you are okay. It’s really nice here. All the people are nice to me and very helpful. I see lots of other refugees here. They have given me a good place to live, with lots of other children. I have made lots of new friends.” Cathy snorted. Karima didn’t even look up. “They have lots of pretty things here. Not just for the rich, there are pretty things for the poor too. I am having lots of fun here, but I still miss you. I hope to see you here soon or maybe I could come back home. I still think about what happened to Duman, Gil and papa. Lots of love, Karima.” Her head was ducked and she looked embarrassed.
“Come on. This is boring let’s just go. She’s not worth it.” Cathy was bored. I didn’t take my eyes of Karima.
“You go, I’ll catch up.” She sighed and stormed out of the room. I looked back down to the photo. I handed it back to her and sat next to her. “You should put an address on that. I’m sure your mother wants to hear from you.” This made her cry harder.
“I can’t. I don’t know where she is.” She tucked the letter and photograph back into the envelope. I felt bad for all the bullying that I’ve done. “The Red Cross are looking for her, but…” She sobbed. I didn’t know what to do.
“What happened to them, your brothers and your father?” She looked up at me. I saw something in her eyes, something I have never seen. I saw death. The sound of guns echoed in my head. It was enough to almost make me cry. I didn’t know if I could do what she was doing, leaving the rest of her family to come to somewhere she was safe, but unhappy. Would I leave my family if I were her? “I’m sorry.”
I never looked at Karima the same way. She didn’t annoy me anymore. I felt sorry for her, but I never brought up the courage to talk to her again. I was ashamed. I think if I had talked to her, we could have been friends, but all that happened was that I stopped people bullying her and we smiled to each other if we passed in the corridors. That conversation changed me and I will always remember her.