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Tears of joy rolled down my cheek, each one, so happy and powerful, they were sure to make flowers blossom with every drop. I was pulled into a deep and familiar hug.  Behind us was a wall of photos. Some bright with color, but barren with life. Others dull with color but filled with the happiness of life.


A lump of anger and sadness in my throat formed. I’m about to pull away as Dad says, “ I love you honey.” With those four words, the lump in my throat melted like ice cream in the sahara desert.


“So, you ready to go home?” Dad asked.


My body froze, rigid with anger. I jerked away, what did he think would happen. I felt something bubbling in my chest, I knew something was going to happen tonight. I had an angry caged tiger in my chest and it was time to release it.


“You left us!” I screamed in frustration. “You think you can just come home like nothing happened!”


“Whoah! Calm down Aliyah! You’re causing a huge scene!” Dad said cooly as he led me to a quiet corner.


“You know what! I’m done. You left me and mom to do what? Take a trip and take pictures.” I ranted. “I wish you would just get out of my life!” I stormed away.




I sat in the corner with my eyes raw and red. I take my phone out about to text my mother to pick me up. I look out of the corner of my eyes and see a picture. I look closer. I hadn’t really looked at them. One in particular caught my eye. It was a girl about my age. Her eyes were bright with determination and sadness. She looked so mature. I touched the photo and closed my eyes…..




“Dleen, pack up your books, and get the bread!”


I put my books away and into the secret compartment in the wall. I can’t ever tell anyone that I am actually learning things. I am not allowed to go to school, I am not allowed to be educated. My duty as a girl is to sit, be pretty, cook, and clean.


“Dleen, go straight to the market and come back as soon as you can, we’ve got company.”


I march to the market and set out my loafs of bread. I wait. My eyes get weary as time passes by. Each second is as long as a minute, each minute as long as an hour, and each hour as long as a day. My last loaf is bought. I pack up and walk to my house, I peek in my door, I see a man and an american lady dressed as a muslim. Before I can step in. I hear a loud boom. A strong force overpowers my body, I’m blasted back and all I see is black.   

I wake up to find everything around me is in a state of ruins.

“Mama! Papa!” I cry. I get up, somehow I was unharmed. I don’t know what happened, but I swear, I will rise over this, I am just a normal person, I do nothing wrong. This world is so cruel, but the attackers should know that they can’t hurt me.

I am Dleen. Yes, I am female. Yes, I am Arabic. Yes, my family, my house, and my city got bombed. No, I refuse to let these things bring me down.




My eyes burst open. I didn’t realize how long I had been standing there. I shivered. It all seemed so realistic like I had seen the girl in real life. My eyes drift off to see another boy looking as if he was only four. His eyes were filled with viciousness. He was wearing a uniform and held a knife. It looked like he had been trained to fight even at such a young age. It broke my heart to think that this world is teaching our future generation about violence. Our future is in these kids and if we teach them about violence, our world will be destroyed.


Following my careful steps, my hands landed on a girl with a somewhat dirty face and eyes that could light up an entire room. Something in my mind flickered. She looked so familiar. I finally realized where I had seen her before. Her name is Malala. A girl who fought for her rights to learn. She was shot in the head by the Taliban. Nevertheless, she never gave up, she continued to persist. I remembered reading about her and wanting to make such a big difference like her.


I looked away and saw someone so familiar I could recognize him in my sleep. He is my best friend.




“Hey Myles! What’s up!” I say as I glance up. “Whoah! What’s that bruise on your cheek from!”


“Oh that? My dad punched me.” He replied coolly.


“What!” My jaw dropped. Just as I say that a few teenagers come into our classroom.


“Hi! How’s everybody doing?” One of the teenagers says.


“Good.” We all say.


“That’s great! Today we are going to be talking about a topic that might be uncomfortable for some of you guys. We will be taking about depression and suicide.”


We watched a video about suicide, bullying and depression. It was so touching and beautifully written. We were then asked on our thoughts. We were asked to express our experiences and things that had happened to us.


My friend Myles raised his hands and let something out that I never knew. “ My brother had a good friend that was just like my brother. I looked up to him as my role model. One day, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was shot. His mom was a drug addict so my family had to go identify the body.”


Myles never cried, he always wanted to seem strong, he was always stereotyped as the bad and dumb kid but I knew he wasn’t dumb. I knew he had good ideas but hated listening to teachers. At this moment though, I saw Myles holding back tears.


I heard another one of my friends say something unknown to everyone. Her dad had committed suicide. I had no clue about this, she had always seemed so cool and casual as if her life was perfect. Maybe not everything was as it seemed from the outside.




I had a moment of realization. I stood there frozen. Suddenly I turned around and called for dad. He turned around with a puzzled look. I ran into his arms and cried.


“Did something happen?” He asked


I just looked at him.




I realize now that the world isn’t perfect. I above all should be grateful for what I have. I am an American citizen. I don’t need to worry about much. I have all the basic necessities, shelter, food, and good health. I have the right to be educated, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and I also have the ability to run for president no matter my gender or color. This world is filled with pain, violence, and rivalry, but it is up to me to try and make this world a better place. Even though you may feel like a tiny grain of sand drifting aimlessly in a big ocean called the world, you do matter. You can’t let every little thing weigh you down. I am lucky to have my family and live in a peaceful place. I have a family who cares for me and I can’t be selfish to expect both of my parents to be perfect. You may envy others and find their lives perfect, but they feel just the same about your life. I now know not to take advantage of my “perfect” life. Even if this world isn’t perfect, that’s the beauty of it. We unite as a world and make this world great.

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