It’s registration period, and our form teacher is absent. The class is noisy. Everyone is walking around, discussing their weekend.
I catch the word ‘Soccer’ a few times. I’m reading (surprise!). The BFG is just so completely brilliant! I’m smiling at the pages.
I hear Khaled.
“Guys, you know why Rabia never gets invited to anyone’s parties? It’s because everyone is scared she’ll eat up all the food.”
Khaled is the grossest boy I've ever met and also the stupidest. The one time he was asking me for my homework and there was a big green booger in his left nostril. I wanted to vomit. He’s always picking on everyone. But if you know a few good insults, (preferably, ones that he won’t properly understand because you thought to throw a few big words in to confuse him) then you’re safe.
I’m always armed with big words. The bigger, the better.
For my 10th birthday, I asked mummy for a thesaurus. Khaled is asinine. I found that word in the thesaurus. When I call him an asinine ass, he reports me to the teacher for swearing. They never believe him though, since I AM Mrs Patel’s daughter, and also the student who comes out first every year.
Khaled’s cronies (that’s a nice word for friends) cackle. They sound so ugly.
“So, Rabia, what you brought for lunch today? Half a cow?” Muneer. He’s almost as bad as Khaled, except one day I saw him save a baby bird that fell out of a nest.
Most of us look down. We try to pretend we’re not hearing Rabia being attacked. My book is suddenly riveting. (Thank you thesaurus).
The rest of the kids are still walking around, but instead of TALKING, they’re whispering.
“Hey Fatty, get up. You sitting in my place.” Khaled is grinning. I can hear this even though I don’t look up.
Rabia sniffs. The class goes completely quiet. I look up. Her chair scrapes against the floor. She gathers up her bag. Drops it. Picks it up again.
“Come on Fatty. You not only fat, you also so slow. And stupid.” Khaled is in full wickedness mode now.
She moves away from her seat, looks around the class. I catch her gaze. There’s so much helplessness in her eyes and she’s crying. I stop thinking. I’m just so angry.
I’m standing in front of Khaled. How the hell did I get here?!
He’s got his legs on her desk.
“What you want, nerd?” The word is a sharp arrow in his mouth.
“For an asinine ass, with a brain the size of pea and a face that strongly resembles a gorilla’s posterior, you have a lot to say.” I feel so strong standing there in from of him.
The class is graveyard quiet; I can actually hear Khaled breathe. He sounds like he’s snoring, he’s that loud.
“Ya, well you…you a…” He sputters. Then his Motor Mouth dies.
Everyone bursts out laughing.
Khaled’s face is maroon. I’m grinning as I go back to my seat. I sit down to find Rabia next to me.
Rabia’s not half bad once you actually get to know her.