Disclaimer: The Eqbal Ahmad Centre for Public Education (EACPE) encourages critical and independent thinking and believes in a free expression of one’s opinion. However, the views expressed in contributed articles are solely those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the EACPE.
Kajju came home one day after school with a blue eye and an oval bump on his forehead.
“What happened, dear?” his mother asked with concern.
Kajju began to weep as his mother checked the injuries.
“Let me get some ice, hold on, baby.”
These words had a calming effect on Kajju. He especially adored the baby part.
In the evening Kajju went over what had transpired. The notorious school bully, Akram, had harassed him and beat him down.
Kajju’s mother Anisa was a single parent and had experienced bullying herself when she was in school and a bit chubby.
Anisa held Kajju’s hand and they went to the roof of the apartment complex and sat on stools made of red bricks.
Kajju was fascinated with airplanes but didn’t know much about warplanes.
“Kajju, do you know what a Jungee Tayyaara is?”
Kajju’s eyes lit up as soon as he heard this strange, yet captivating phrase for the very first time.
“Ma, what is a Jungee Tayyaara?”
“It is an airplane, Kajju, but with a different purpose.”
“What is its purpose, Ma?”
“It is a fighter airplane, Kajju, and its purpose is to fight and protect.”
“Come, I’ll show you what they look like.”
Downstairs Anisa showed Kajju various pictures of fighter jets and she could see his interest deepen with each picture.
After showing ten different types of warplanes, Anisa and Kajju returned to their rooftop stools.
It was a bit breezy, with clear blue skies.
“Kajju,” said Anisa, in a deep and calming voice.
“I want you to listen very carefully.”
“Kajju, right now, my love, you are an airplane.”
“You are a Tayyaara, my love.”
“When you go to bed tonight, you will go to bed as an airplane. As a Tayyaara.”
“But, tomorrow morning, you will no longer be a Tayyaara.”
“You will have become a Jungee Tayyaara.”
Anisa, with these precious few words, was planting the seed that will make a man out of little Kajju.
“My love,” continued Anisa, “tomorrow, you will be a Jungee Tayyaara. Tomorrow, you will be a fighter, my son.”
“Tomorrow, you will stand up for yourself, Kajju. Just like your Ma did when your father gave his life for this country. Kajju, tomorrow is the day when you will learn to stand up for Kajju and learn what self-respect is all about. My son, remember always, only when one can stand up for himself can he ever stand up for others.”
Kajju silently climbed in his bed and began to think over what was told to him that night.
At breakfast Kajju was not home.
He had gone to the bully’s house and waited for him in the bushes. Kajju had his cricket bat with him.
As the bully Akram started to leave his driveway on his bicycle, Kajju jumped in front of him and startled the rider. Before Akram could say or do anything Kajju, with all his might and built up anger, began to thrash Akram’s bicycle.
Akram was surprised, then startled, and then scared.
After a few moments Kajju ceased his unprovoked assault on heavy metal and stared deeply in Akram’s eyes.
“I will beat you up right now with this bat as I have beaten your bike,” said Kajju in a voice that seemed very strange and scary to him.
“Apologize to me for yesterday and promise to never bully anyone ever again.”
Akram was so flustered and rattled by the whole incident that he immediately complied.
After his demand speech, Kajju was perspiring and frozen and his ears were ringing. A few moments later he realized that Akram had ran away and he was left standing over Akram’s mangled bike.
Feeling a heavy head Kajju returned home and secretly got into his bed.
Anisa came to know a bit later what had gone down but let Kajju take his rest.
The next morning Kajju greeted his mother with a smile.
“Do you know what happened?”
“You tell me, Kajju.”
Kajju went over the story like an excited soldier shares his best war stories with his buddies around a campfire.
“I feel so different, Ma.”
“Yes, I know. It is because you are now a Jungee Tayyaara.”
“You have found your purpose. You have found your meaning, darling.”
For 14 seconds Kajju looked outside the window at the rising sun and took a deep breath and said, “So, what’s for breakfast, Ma?”
This short story is contributed by Syed Anser Ahmed