There comes a moment in every child’s life which initiates the course of the perilous endeavor that they must undertake. To distinguish themselves from those who have been casted a lowly eye upon, and step into the creed of the mighty, privileged and authoritative. To prove themselves worthy of being knighted with the responsibilities of that creed and to shed off the burden of inferiority.
To be part of the big kids.
On the sidewalk outside my grandmother’s house were concrete steps. These were three massive steps that led to nothing and just finished off there, oddly like stacked Legos. As far as I could vaguely remember, or was constantly reminded, only the big kids could jump off of the highest step. They were the only ones with the courage too. For too long, I was ‘sympathetically’ told as the snickered at me, “just jump sideways from the second”. And I did. It was all I could have done.
Weekend after weekend, summer after summer, I jumped from the second. I had grown into that role. That was until I said, no more.
On the eve of a hot summer afternoon, having hid from ordering mothers to take shelter inside, we had escaped. We were on the sidewalk. As the other kids huddled together to decide who going to be ‘It’ in the game of catch, I decided now was my moment. If I was to test myself I would do it without the possibility of public shame. With shaking legs and staggering steps, I climbed to the highest step. I recited the only short prayer that I had learnt, remembered all the happiest moments from my life (read: cartoons), took a deep breath, shut my eyes and jumped.
With a scraped knee and accusations of being the reason the children had to be dragged back inside, I had done it. I had faced my fear. Even though it had not brought me the appreciation I had hoped for, it had shown me that I could.
I cannot say that I immediately became an adult with the realization, because let’s face it, adulthood is too vast a phenomenon to have its foundation in one thought. That moment does, however, transition me to an adult every now and then. Whenever faced with what might be seemingly impossible or too challenging, the memory reminds me that a scraped knee is worth it. That moment becomes my courage to persevere and I am able to treat ever task as a confident adult would.
My name is Hafeez Bilal Hafeez, and that is how I learned how to take risks in life; to leap before you look.