As narrated by Meez:
I attack the punching bag, repeatedly smashing my fist against the red material in front of me.
The punching bag is actually black, but all I see is red as anger courses through my veins.
I feel someone tapping my shoulder, and it makes me even angrier.
Can’t everyone just leave me the f*** alone?!
Without thinking, I spin around, swinging my balled fist.
I don’t make contact. The empty air swallows the blow.
What the hell? Now I’m hallucinating too.
It rushes in again. That destructive blinding rage.
2 weeks. It’s only been 2 weeks and I’m already at the brink of insanity.
The change that I plunged head first into is proving to be rough waters.
And I had dived untrained, unequipped, and worst of all, alone.
Breathing heavily, I pull off a glove and grab my water bottle.
“Sit and drink, you shaytaan,” I hear a voice say.
A soft thwack on my head follows.
Where the heck did he come from?
Swearing under my breath, I sit down, and glare at Zee.
“Easy there bro,” he laughs, sitting down next to me.
“I’m in a mood to send someone to their grave after taking my time killing them, and if you don’t shut the f*** up, that person might just be you,” I growl.
A look of shock appears on Zee’s face.. then bewilderment.
“Are you okay?” he asks sounding genuinely concerned.
What the hell is his problem?!
“Yeah, I’m great! Couldn’t be better!” I say sarcastically.
Zee is quiet for a while. Then..
“Fifa?” he asks, getting up and offering me a hand.
Ignoring his outstretched hand, I get up, grab my things and together we head out.
“I can’t do this, dude. It’s frikken impossible!” I say, easing my fingers of my controller as ‘GOAL!’ appears on the screen, and my players celebrate. “I’m going fu -”
Zee’s hand over my mouth cuts me off.
“No swearing,” he says.
I clench my jaw, closing my eyes.
“I need to hear Eminem’s voice or I’m going to go insane,” I say.
“Tell me what he sounds like, I’m good at mimicking people’s voices,” says Zee smirking.
He ducks my punch.
“Do you have a death wish?” I mutter.
“I’m just messing with you,” he says lightly, grinning.
“This halaal life is messing with me too,” I say.
“Hey! Don’t speak like that,” says Zee. “Maybe you just need some advice on how to deal. There’s a youth program tonight in Lenz, why don’t you go?”
I groan loudly.
“The last thing I need is a bayaan from some molvi who thinks he knows what it’s like being me,” I grumble, annoyed.
“Well what do you need then?” asks Zee.
“I need a break,” I reply immediately. “Just some chill out time, that’s all.”
“And then what? You’re telling me after that it’s going to be easier keeping it halaal?” he asks seriously. “C’mon bro, you know what’s going to happen. It’s going to remind you of what you’re trying to leave behind. Just fight it, mahn.”
“It’s not that easy!” I yell, swallowing the vulgar words I want to scream out. “There are girls everywhere. Music everywhere. I’m trying to get away from things that can reach me which ever way I go! I can’t do this!”
“Not now at least,” I add as an afterthought. “I’m still young, dude. I have enough time to repent later. Now’s the time to live it up.”
“Maybe you just need to change your strategy.”
Zee and I look up at the sound of my mum’s voice.
For a moment, I panic inside.
How long has she been standing there?? How much did she hear??
But then mum’s sentence registers, and I realize that her voice was soft; gentle, not angry.
Maybe you just need to change your strategy.
Zee shifts a little, making space for mum as she comes to sit down.
“Remember when I decided to start living a healthier life?”
My frown deepens.
“Yeah..” I reply uncertainly.
“It was a process, wasn’t it? I didn’t just wake up one morning and stop taking sugar, start eating steamed vegetables, exercising everyday for an hour, did I? No, I didn’t.”
“I took it step by step. From 2 teaspoons of sugar to one teaspoon of sugar. From one, to half. And eventually, no sugar. With my exercising too. First it was ten minutes whenever I felt like. Then 20 minutes maybe, but still not regularly. And like that, it built up to 1 hour everyday. The more my knowledge increased, the more eager I was to reach my goals. When I saw results, it motivated me.”
It slowly began making sense.
I am doing it all wrong.
Mum is right. I have to change to my whole strategy.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight, Rameez. It takes hard work, a strong willpower, belief in yourself. It takes courage, bravery, and of course.. change takes time.”