Chapter 23

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~Iman’s P.O.V~

                “Hey” Zayn said faintly, his eyes not meeting mine making knots form in my stomach. This wasn’t the cheeky guy I’ve came to know as my neighbor for the last month or so.

                “Hey,” I tried to smile but my eyes drafted to his blood stained knuckles, “What happened?”

                He examined his hand like he just noticed the blood on it the shrug, “It’s a long story.” He sighed.

                “I have got time.” My mouth spoke before my mind processed what I just said but at that point, I didn’t seem to mind the circumstances of me talking to a boy in the middle of the street alone. All I could see was his state and I couldn’t help but let my motherly instinct take control for the moment.

                He smiled a small smile looking at his hand then back at me, “You are going to hate me for what I did.” His words baffled me. Why would he think I would hate him for any reason?

                “Why would you think that?” I asked confused. I never showed any emotion to the guy. Why would hate be the first thing?

                “Everyone else does, anyways.” He shrugged, his hand twitching over his right pocket.

                “I’m sure no one hates you. I know from experience. I’m surrounded by your lovers.” I try to lighten up the mood for a bit. I hated seeing him like this. I don’t know why but he reminded me of Youssef when he used to come home after being bullied in school.

                “Not after what I did today. I punched the sucker. I bet his already sold one hell of a story about that.” He mumbled a little angry, dragging his hand through his hair. Did he just say he punched someone?

                I didn’t feel like questioning him about what happened but I guess the look of confusion and a bit of a shock on my face was enough to get him to tell me by himself.

                “Don’t look at me like that! He totally deserved it.” He scoffed but I didn’t even say anything back.

I just stood there fighting the urge to tell him that punching someone is never the answer but I knew better than that. He wasn’t Youssef. I can’t just scold him when he does something wrong. Heck, I shouldn’t even be standing right here in front of him.

“Stop looking at me like that! I think you would’ve done the same thing if you heard what he said to me just because I’m a Muslim.” He yelled frustratingly.

                Realization hit me when he said those words. So, he was getting bullied for being a Muslim too?  

                A sting hit my heart as I saw the pain through his face. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t the perfect muslim or the fact the never shows his religion to the public only portraying the western bad boy image. The ugly face of racism still affected him just the same like anyone of us.

                “A wise man once told me, Words can’t effect you unless you let them.” I didn’t care that it wasn’t my place to advise him. I just saw Youssef in him and I couldn’t just leave him like that.

                “He only said that so he could get a reaction,” He chuckled dryly “I already got that lecture.”

                “That wasn’t what I meant.” I said looking into his eyes, “Words are a strong weapon, some people just happen to know how to use in the most hurtful way there is. But only you can determine the effect they have on you.”

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