A young man earned my respect today.
Young, smart, ambitious… But that’s not exactly why.
When I joined my class this semester, I knew only one girl from my class last year. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in all my classes. Being the only black girl in my class, it’s hard to go unnoticed. Unless you’re blind.
I naturally tend to work harder than the average student because I seem to always want to prove myself to… Me. Whatever that means.
I am also quite the introvert unless I am with people I like so I really suck in the friends-making department. This automatically implies that I was awfully alone throughout the greater part of my semester.
Halfway through, however, I decided to greet people in my class. Say hello. Not have earphones plugged in all the time. Stuff like that. Since I know I can’t approach people, I might as well be somewhat approachable.
I had also decided those I wanted to avoid. Because let’s face it, there is always that racist person or groups of people, or those crowds that are just bad news, or those gossips you just want to stay as far away from as possible.
I made a friend in my second week though. Tall, beautiful and happy. I know happy isn’t really a compliment, but she is. And she is really cool. The first time we met, I decided she was going to be a really great friend. And I’d tell you why.
So, typical day in class. She sits by me and we get to talking. We are all new in class, and whether or not they admit it, everyone is somewhat curious about the stranger. So it becomes a group discussion of sorts. Normal questions are asked, like country and language and how many years I’ve been in Algeria. Then religion.
You see, there is no appropriate answer to this question. So I just hold back all the sarcastic responses I could decorate a person’s life with.
But my new friend, who has clearly never been privy to such a *insert as many words as you want* conversation goes berserk.
“What do you mean by why??? You’re Muslim. She’s Christian. It’s a choice. What’s your problem?”
Then there was this awkward silence. Oh how glad I was!!!
I have decided that most of the boys in my class were cool. The are not good looking –in my humble opinion– so no distractions there (no offense). They would explain stuff, make jokes and generally be nice without trying to forcibly befriend you. I already have five favourites.
Two are really smart. They don’t talk to me though. But if they happen to be seated near me and I have a question, they help. A lot. One speaks more arabic than french and he always says hi, or smiles and he’s helping me learn a couple of words and expressions. I think he tried to make a move on some girl in the first week but she wasn’t interested. They don’t sit together anymore. Poor guy. The fourth one is also from my previous class. We acknowledge each other with a nod everytime meet.
The last one is the one who’s earned my respect.
You see, he has a particularly loud voice and is very animated (if that’s the right word). Like me, he’s wears glasses but still can’t see if he sit’s too far back. We share a lot of classes together. He is also, officially my sitting partner in the compulsory English class we take. (My prof doesn’t know I’m anglophone yet😴).
Anyway, today, I bumped into him after class holding a big bag of Chiuaua! (It is a tiny packet of salted Sunflower seeds. Really tasty. Really nice. Hot commodity.) .
Though it is loved my many, I have never seen anyone buy a bag of it😂 so it was bizarre to say the least. He said he was going to eat all of it. I laughed. Even I knew that no boy, no matter how big an appetite they had, would eat all of that.
Am I going to smoke it then?
Sure. Roll it all up and have a field day.
I thought he was going to sell it. So I told him. He said he did sell them in the school buses.
I laughed. He maintained a serious expression.
I must’ve had a weird expression on my face because he said, “It sounds crazy right? Shouting Chiuaua in the bus?”
Then he said , “In the beginning, it did feel weird, but now, it’s not such a big deal anymore.”
I was like cooooollll.
I had met alot of these boys whose public image meant a lot to them. They wanted easy money. All that.
I don’t know what his story is. I don’t know why he does what he does. But I have seen him work so hard at his books, and to see him work hard after… Respect!
He’s probably never going to see this.
But ah well…