Quantum Physics. This should be interesting I thought, walking into the classroom shouldering my bag and hoping to finally understand the YouTube videos I often watched out of curiosity. Quantum physics was twisted from what I had gathered off the internet. I once read an article saying that an electron could jump from its shell to wherever it wanted at the slightest whim. No need for energy, its ok if you don’t have the energy needed to rationally do it. I mean be cool, do what you want brother electron. We humans will cover for you and call that discipline Quantum Physics. I didn’t understand the electron scenario at first but reading on, I came to the conclusion that it was similar to an eight month old baby, sitting in the middle of a football field and suddenly standing up and leaping outside to where his parents parked the car. That’s what the electrons could apparently do, when they felt like it of course. Who’s got time to crawl right? Crawling was overrated. I looked at the board, from my seat in the second row, eagerly.
“Quantum physics is a branch of science that deals with discrete, indivisible units of energy called quanta as described by the Quantum Theory.”
My hand shot up, Sir Iqbal smiled at me.
“What’s the quantum theory?”
“That’s a very good question. It’s not in our syllabus but………”
“Sir if it’s not in our syllabus then forget it.” Zaid yelled from the back.
“We’re already behind on sir.” Zahra said adjusting her glasses.
Sir looked at me apologetically, they had a point.
“Ask me after the lesson then Maria. I don’t want the rest of the class to get confused.”
I nodded, though I knew I wouldn’t go to him afterwards. Sir went on, telling us about wave-particle duality. Jannat and Fatima were whispering loudly to each other at the back and giggling. Layla doodled on her notebook.
The class of forty sat on wooden chairs facing the whiteboard with an arm’s length of spacing. Well it was supposed to be arm’s length, most of the seats were closer together in order to facilitate speech during the lesson, our own handiwork. The a.c was on as well as the fans so that the heat wouldn’t bother us. From the three windows, spaced equally apart, on the left wall there was a clear view of the junior branch of Sarbaland High, between our two buildings stretched a large stretch of lawn that was well tended to. Trees dotted the landscape, providing some respite from the hot sun that shone almost three hundred days a year.
A high pitched squeal from behind made the class turn around, Amira looked sheepishly at Sir while Ali was grinned as he scribbled in his notebook not looking up. Sir let it slide and as I turned around to face the board, Talha’s brown eyes met my mine. I looked a away quickly, my cheeks getting hot.
After class, still embarrassed I waited until most of the class had filed out before I left, not wanting to run into Talha. Talha was way decent; he never looked at a girl if he could help it, which was why it embarrassed me when I sometimes saw him looking my way. With an easy charm and an air of confidence about him he was easily admirable. As if that wasn’t enough, he was pretty smart. I kept Physics and Biology for fun, and he kept Sociology. That was how he caught my attention. Most people didn’t understand the intrigue of the unknown; they saw knowledge as something that was compulsory, not something to seek for the sake of seeking. Overhearing a conversation with him and the sociology teacher I had felt a feeling of camaraderie.
Talha was medium heighted, average looking with a round nose, curious eyes and a tan. He walked with purpose, had a brisk stride and a ready smile for anyone passing by. I walked through the sunlit corridor, one side had a wall totally made of glass, and outside to the canteen. The canteen owners knew me well, greeting me with smiles.
“Pepsi or Coke?” Nadia baji asked.
I looked around recognizing the deep voice and found myself standing right next to Talha. I shifted to the side to increase the distance between us, but even so, I was unnerved by our proximity.
“I’ll have a coke too.”
I tried saying the words as confidently as I could but my voice came out a little too high pitched for my liking. I adjusted my headscarf awkwardly as I waited for my order. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw him half turn towards me, think better of it, and then turn back. Taking my coke gratefully, I made a beeline for my favourite spot in the school grounds, a sheltered bench under the shade of two trees. The two drooping juniper trees made the area feel safe, and sheltered. From the bench you could see the whole school. It was a nice view of both the sky and the grounds which was why I often found myself sitting there, looking at the clouds or reading a book under the shade.
When the bell rang for the next period I was reluctant to leave. I had been brainstorming for an essay that was due for an online competition tonight. Hopping off the bench I strolled casually across the lawn. Other A2 kids were making their way towards the door too, while some sat where they were, obstinately ignoring the sound. I didn’t glance at them; that would only encourage them. They just wanted the attention I thought cynically. Jannat often came into class late so that everyone would notice her arrival. Well that was my assumption but judging from her regularity, and the way she strutted into the room as conspicuously as she could manage, I was pretty sure I was right.
People were such attention seekers. I didn’t believe in blind conformity. You should think before you believe in something, instead of blindly accepting things as facts merely because the majority believe they were. We had brains so that we can use them. Yet it was ironic how few of us did. I often saw people leap at chances for acknowledgement, popularity and social standing. No matter what they had to forego along the way.
Strolling into the biology lab, I found myself an empty seat at the back, near the open double paned window. Unfortunately that meant I was sitting right behind Layla, Jannat and Arooj. I fiddled with my pen and allowed myself to listen to their heated discussion on which guys in class were hot and which had made a move on Jannat. They were laughing at Jannat’s dramatized exaggerations of how Bilal had tried to approach her.
“I knew there was something ages ago. He always used to stare at me and come up to me and start talking for no reason.” She said, acting nonchalant. “Somehow he was always online when I logged into Facebook. He tried talking to me almost every day.”
“Has he ever looked in a mirror?” Arooj sniggered and they all erupted in laughter.
“It got really creepy after a while though. One day I got a message from him saying that he wanted us to be more than friends, that he had been watching me for months and he thought I was perfect, the whole deal. I told him to fuck off but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He started posting weird statuses and pictures. I freaked out.”
“Talk about obsessed.”
“Yeah, so I told Zaid and he flipped. I don’t know exactly what he did but Bilal never bothered me after that, he doesn’t even glance my way.”
“Wow.” Layla muttered.
Jannat twirled a strand of her hair imperiously, while Arooj looked at her in admiration and glanced at her own boyfriend, Junaid, across the room. My mouth twisted into an amused smirk. They were so naïve. Attracting boys was all they thought about, it was what gave them confidence. Such weak foundations I thought, shaking my head and frowning as I wondered what would happen to them if the boys actually got some sense and stopped paying attention. These girls would break, lose their sense of importance and delve into a state of such desperateness that they’d lose all sense of self-respect. If only I could talk some sense into them. You didn’t need a boy’s attention in order to be worth something, you had to believe in yourself. But I was at loss for words.
It was against our religion to attract the opposite gender, hence the need for hijab. Once you got into this sticky mess, you’d spend your life trying to find happiness instead of concentrating on important things like family and you’re future. If you liked someone, by all means, get married, but playing these sick games where people mostly exploited the other person, it was pathetic. I wanted someone too though, I realized guiltily. Someone to stand up for me and tell me I wasn’t weird. Someone smart. Someone like Darcy, or heck, even Edward. What did that mean? Was I just as bad as everyone else? Just as desperate?
Maam Razia walked into the room and apologized for her tardiness.
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