Turning Goodbyes Into New Beginnings

How I turned my loneliness into a neighborhood tradition
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Created by Muhammad hassam ali

Published on Jul 9, 2024
badminton rackets
Kristin O Karlsen on Unsplash

Last summer when I came back from school, I heard the terrible news that my cousins were moving out. As Pakistanis, we had a joint family system, which I personally liked a lot. I used to play with my cousins every day because they were around my age. But they decided to move to a new house, which left me feeling awful since they were my only friends in the neighborhood. The next week, they had completely moved out, and I was so sad that day that I stayed in my room the whole time.

The next week summer vacations had started, but unlike every other year I was not very happy about it because it felt like all of my friends had left me. I used to get bored and just sit idle all day. I had a little brother who loved to play badminton and he asked that I play with him. I declined as I was not in the mood but my brother complained to our mother and she scolded me for doing nothing the whole day.

I had to go unwillingly. Unlike other parts of the city, we had a wide street we used to play on. After an hour of playing we came back home. Despite having some fun playing with him I still felt awful, so I went straight to my room and just slept the whole day. The next morning my brother took me to play with him again. While we were playing a young kid from the neighbor’s asked if he could play with us and I couldn’t be happier. I gave him the racket and went home. My father was sitting in the living room and he asked me why did I come back so early, and I explained that our neighbor’s kid is playing with my brother. My father noticed I was feeling down and asked what was going on with me. I told him it was really tough spending the day without my cousins around. He said it's okay to feel bummed out, but maybe I could try making friends with some of the other kids in the neighborhood.

When I went to my room I had an idea that it would be fun to start a tournament of different ages with other kids in the neighborhood. When my brother came back I described him the idea and he was really happy to hear it. We made pamphlets and made copies of it. After that we distributed it in every house of our neighborhood. We decided to hold the tournament right on our street. Our father helped out and bought us a net for the event. We even got little lights to set up for the evening matches. We set a small entry fee and put aside a prize for the winner. We split the players into two age groups: 12 to 15 and 16 to 18 and my brother and I took charge as the organizers. The first two days were very disappointing, as there was very little turnout, but after a few days of spreading the word many people started to participate in the tournament. So the tournament really started after two weeks and we had a total of 28 participants! 

The tournament turned out to be a great way to get some exercise and hang out with people at the same time. We've kept these tournaments going every now an again ever since, and we've made a bunch of new friends and had loads of fun. Sure, we've had our share of good and bad moments, but we always tried out best to stick to the rules and worked through any issues that came up.

What I learned from this is that the first step can be very helpful in bringing our ideas come true as it is said that “journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. It has been over a year and I have not regretted a single day of being part of this friendly community that helped make it all happen.

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