I was rifling through old papers the other day and found a crumpled, tea stained photograph. In it I stood smiling as I collected my prize during the speech day at my old school. I clearly remember the scene. I was standing in line with my friends, chattering excitedly, when my teacher approached. “Child!” she squeaked loudly. “What is that THING on your head?”

I looked at her innocently. “I do not know?” I pulled my scarf even lower on my forehead.

“You know the Principal will not like it! Please take it off before going on stage! Of course, you can put it back on afterwards.”

“I am sorry,” I repeated, while my friends looked on. “I am going to have to keep this on.”

This went on for a while. Finally, I stepped out of line. “It is quite alright. I do not mind taking my prize later. But I am not going to remove my head cover”.

My friends spoke up, as well as a few supporting teachers.

In the end, I won my case. Walking tall and straight up on the stage, I collected my prize; smiled a thank you and walked off.

But here I am not illustrating how I performed some heroic deed; it is more than that. One lesson I learnt that day was to stand up! Not to just let everyone run over me.  But to know who I am and be it.

We often complain of unfair things and rage against the system, which does not let us make our own choices. That is untrue. Who said you cannot do anything, at least in your personal lives? In the face of adversity, there is no need to blow your top. Use logic and reason to win your case.

We are often also afraid of what friends will say. That is okay; it is perfectly normal to be apprehensive about how others will rate our actions. However, when you are the only one standing up for the shy girl who everyone in the class is making fun of, people will learn to respect others and believe in justice.

I have often noticed that people behave in a certain manner, ignoring reason, just to fit in the crowd. At other times they do not have adequate knowledge either to tell them right from wrong.

One day in sociology class a girl was advocating the Darwinism thesis. When I told her I did not believe in it and that I accepted Adam (as) to be the first human, she looked at me for a second and exclaimed amazed, “I never even thought of that!” I was equally amazed, but it just proved that people are waiting to be informed about concepts. Obviously, it does not mean you go around propounding your views. You can have discussions with friends whenever opportunity knocks. Try putting up posters around your school. Write letters to newspapers explaining your point of view. The point is to spread the good word in the best possible manner, whenever you can.

Afraid that you will be the only one standing up for the right and everyone else will be on the other side of the fence? Think twice. There are many silent supporters who are only looking for a voice to back them up. At parties, for instance, maybe your reminder for Maghrib prayers is just what everybody is waiting for! So you can either sit and stare helplessly at all the wrong happening around you or you can be the catalyst for change, which will make you feel better about yourself and strengthen your beliefs too.