Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Small Steps in a School Girls’ Cafeteria By Pui Siah

Jess eyed up the canteen hall sceptically. Just as she expected, the room was divided into tables of different socials groups of girls, different ranks, different social classes. “Oh! How representative this is of the world outside!” she thought to herself. World inequality represented in an innocent school girls’ cafeteria.

Surveying the room, she could see the tables at the back, the biggest ones by the windows, were occupied by girls spread out and basking in the sunlight with their flashy handbags and impeccable nails. They were typing away on their newest iphones and gossiping about boys and the weekend. She swore she could even smell the odour of their designer perfume from where she was standing at the doorway. For a brief second, one of them looked up in the direction of Jess, but looked right through her. Clearly Jess was not one of them in her worn-out hoodie and old boots, not even worth acknowledging. These were the “popular clique”.

The tables in front of them were occupied by other groups: the “fringe/wannabe crew” trying hard to make their way up the rungs of the social ladder into the popular clique; the “athletic clique”; the “clever clogs”; the “foreigners”; and other “substandard” friendship groups.

Jess made her way to sit at a table at the front with friendly welcoming girls who smiled eagerly as she made her way towards them. She asked one of the girls next to her, “Why don’t we sit at the those tables?” gesturing at the grand tables at the back. “We can’t, they always sit there. We have to abide by the unspoken rules of the place.” the girl replied. Only one word resonated in Jess’s mind for the rest of the day, “Why?”

The next day, Jess got to the canteen early and headed straight to the tables at the back. She beckoned her new friends from the day before to join her. Although apprehensive, they tentatively joined her, feeling a rush of excitement of having snagged the best tables. Ten minutes later, she saw the girls from the “popular clique” enter and stop dead in their tracks, their jaws dropping open at the sight of Jess and her friends sitting at their tables. After a few moments, the girls at the door sulkily headed to another table, staring daggers at Jess. “Teaches them,” Jess thought, “why should they always get the best?”

Although peace was far from being achieved and she could feel war ahead; it felt good, taking a stand, albeit only a small one, at injustice. If only everyone could stand up for what they believed in, she thought, then the world would not be as divided as it is today. The world should be about challenging traditions and embracing change. It felt good knowing that she could instigate change, it was not going to be a smooth ride but it felt like she was positively paving small steps in the right direction.

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