Sameera was walking down the street with her heavy backpack. She was returning home from school after a hectic day of team meetings for a group project. As she headed towards the bus stop, she couldn’t stop thinking about the difference of her opinions with team mates. The long discussion and argument in preparing a PowerPoint presentation for the project made her exhausted. The blazing sun only added to her discomfort, making her feel fatigued and dehydrated. She could not help but notice the tan on her arms, but it seemed indifferent. “Not a big deal now”, she thought.
“Good evening! How’re you doing?” greeted the driver as she boarded the bus. The warm greeting brought a smile on her face. An instant sense of solace infused her as she sat down in the air conditioned bus. She felt better escaping the heat.
As she continued thinking about how she could’ve made the team understand her point of view, she heard a breathy voice from behind- “Hello!” She turned around to see a dark, bearded man who appeared ragged. His appearance wasn’t welcoming enough for her to acknowledge his greeting. Nor was she sure enough to judge him by his looks. “Hi”, she smiled hesitantly. “Do you go to school here?”, he asked intriguingly. Not being sure of where this conversation was headed, “Mmm hmm“, she nodded. “Cool, so what program are you enrolled in?”, asked the shabby looking man. Having lived in a foreign land for not more than two months, Sameera had all kinds of doubts and fears running in her mind.
“What if he is genuinely striking a conversation? Or what if his intentions are otherwise, he doesn’t look trustworthy anyway. Why risk?”, yelled the voices inside her head. She decided to get down at the next stop though it wasn’t her regular one, just to stop herself from giving any more details to a stranger.
As the bus halted, “Err, I need to get down here”, she said and swiftly walked away avoiding any more glances with the man. The moment she felt relieved of getting out of that weird situation, she noticed the man behind her. He was the same one, the scary looking tall man. She quickly walked away and tried her best to not turn back. “Hey kid!”, she heard the man call her. She didn’t answer and continued walking away faster. “Oh my God!! Is he following me?? Is he a kidnapper?“, she panicked and started panting.
The man continued to follow her. “Hello?!!”, he screamed. She was nervous and she tried getting away as far as she could. “Sam- eera?”, he yelled. “Oh wait! How does he know my name?!”, she was surpised. She stopped and turned around.
“Your school ID. You dropped your card while getting down the bus”, he said showing her the card, puffing and panting. “I got down to hand it over, felt it must be important for a foreign student”, he said.
Sameera was dumbstruck! “Oh my god! I’m so sorry, thank you! I cannot thank you enough! Sorry for all the trouble sir“, she apologized. “Be careful kid“, he said and left.
She sure was thankful for her ID, but embarrassed for her false judgement. As she headed home with mixed feelings, “While it’s alright to be cautious, appearances are indeed deceptive“, her mind echoed.