Chapter 8:

Chapter 8

Mokhoddis School Days Episode II

Mokhoddis left his room and stepped out into the hallway. He took the stairs two at a time. Passing by the dining room, he noticed no one was awake. As he made his way down the empty hallway and went out the door hurrying back to the riverbank. It was still dark, but the sky was starting to brighten. Mokhoddis could see his breath, but despite the cold air, his legs were moving faster than usual. He was determined to finish this painting before sunrise.

He skipped school and arrived at the riverwalk. While panting to catch his breath, he scanned around for Rashid. Yet all he saw were a kid playing fetch with his dog, an elderly couple, and a group of teenagers setting sticks on fire… no sign of Rashid.

“Rashid! Where are you?” Mokhoddis called out. He walked towards the sound of the river, searching for any familiar faces. Then, he saw a figure sitting on a rock on the opposite end of the bank. It was Rashid. Mokhoddis stood up straight and walked towards Rashid.

“Hey, what are you doing out here?” Mokhoddis asked as soon as he reached the bank.

“What are you doing here?” He asked once more, but the figure did not respond.

“Are you okay?”

“...” The figure did not respond

Mokhoddis looked at the sky and sighed. He was done trying to engage Rashid in conversation. For a moment, he sat under a maple tree and simply observed the scene around him. Three boys setting sticks on fire caught his eye once more. The middle child grabbed one and chased the youngest child around while the oldest filmed and laughed. The chaos reminded him of how his painting turned out. Mokhoddis pulled out his notebook with whatever he salvaged from the paper tornado from last night.

“Hammer representing the previous words used and what does this say… terminator?” A voice came from his blind spot.

“Trebuchet.” Mokhoddis replied.

“And… you used trebuchet as symbolism for the language of origins?”


“Not bad, this could turn out into a potentially very interesting piece.”

“Rashid, why didn’t you answer me when I called out to you at the river bank?”

“River bank?”

Mokhoddis pointed at where he was earlier. “Over there.”

“You’re pointing at a pile of rocks.”

Mokhoddis gaped, “I didn't realize.”

“Looks like someone didn’t sleep well. Busy working on your painting I presume.”

“Yeah, but I failed there.”

“Let me see what you have so far.”

Mokhoddis moved his notebook to Rashid. “See, none of them turned out how I wanted. I just can’t get these lines to connect smoothly like yours. Mine look a lot like your older paintings, amateurish and unprofessional.”

“That’s because you are a child. You still have time to learn and grow.”

“But I just want to do better. It bothers me that I keep messing up.”

“Can I see it?”

“Yes. Here.” Mokhoddis handed over his notebook and the paintbrush he was using.

Rashid opened the book and looked at the first page.

“I see, Painting is very different from how your brain is wired.” Rashid scratched his goatee.

“Yeah, I can figure other things out really quickly. But with painting” Mokhoddis paused. “With painting, there is no logic. There is no logic guiding me to the answer.”

“Exactly. The only thing guiding you to a correct answer is your talent. Your unique ability to tap into the world inside your head and use it on the canvas. Anyone can learn it, and anyone can study it, but nobody has that special skill from birth, it must be developed. For some, it may take weeks, others decades.”

“How long did it take you?”

“Years. First, I tried copying my favorite painter's work. Trying to copy their styles or techniques. When that didn't help, I started painting on my own. I had a few works that resembled theirs, but I wasn't satisfied with the results. Then I searched for inspiration. Started collecting images of famous paintings, studying them closely and analyzing them.”

“Then what happened?”

“Finally, I found my style. My own style. One that is uniquely mine. I discovered what makes me happy and what makes me unhappy in my own paintings. Right now, you have found what makes you unhappy. All that’s left is to change it.”

"And how do I do that?" Mokhoddis asked.

“For starters, stop only thinking about yourself.”

Rashid paused. “I see you’re a lot like me Mokhoddis, both self-centered and egotistical.” Rashid closed his painting suitcase and sat comfortably. “You know, I wasn’t the model teenager either.” Mokhoddis watched as the teenager with red shirt grabbed one of the sticks and started chasing the blue shirt one while the smaller one recorded and laughed.

“Really? You skipped school too?”

“Oh skipped school? I wasn't even considered enrolled, it was a normal day to me. I was told not to skip class countless times, but I did so anyway. I had a job, so being absent was no big deal."

“A job?”

“You see, I was actually a delinquent,” Rashid said with no hesitation. Mokhoddis’s eyes widened. “I was an underground boxer for a local gang.”

“You were a boxer for a gang? Really? Like… as a hobby?”

“As a profession. I was a top-ranked fighter in my age bracket. When I was younger, I fought for the pleasure of solely beating up people. The teenagers caught Mokhoddis’s attention again. The Red shirt guy tripped the blue shirt guy into the ground. The smaller guy moved closer to record better.

“So you were a bully?”

“Well, yeah,” Rashid smirked. He then smiled and opened his sketchbook to reveal a picture of young boys wearing boxing gloves, sparring on a grassy field. “I was part of a small delinquent gang. We were small but proud. We took every fight we could. We caused a lot of trouble in the neighborhoods and as we won more fights we gained more notoriety. The notoriety attracted larger opponents and thus we had to get stronger to keep our rein. I remember those days. Those were fun times. Even though I did things I regret.”

“You're lucky. Most of us don't get to live like that on the edge, enjoying whatever we want.”

“I wish I could have been like you. Not a bully, not a boxer, but just a normal kid. I am glad I managed to escape from that life. But, since then, I've realized something. That you don't have to be a victim of your circumstances. Being bullied, being abused, and having a crappy childhood, doesn't mean you have to continue living like that. It is possible to break free from it.”

“How does this story relate to my situation? I’m not a boxer.”

“Let me finish. After I learned the art of boxing, our gang became unstoppable. To my boss, I was the trump card that led to our rein. He spoiled me with everything I wanted that my biological father couldn’t. Alcohol, girls, and finally… respect. As we grew stronger, we became more and more violent.” Rashid stopped, tilted his head down, and smirked. Mokhoddis watched the three boys again. A bigger guy came, tackling the red shirt guy with the stick. The red shirt guy laid on the ground as the smaller guy panicked. The bigger guy proceeded to lend his hand to the blue shirt one who was on the ground.

“One day, we picked a fight with a small school that had ties to an extraordinary gang. We knew about that gang at the time, but foolishly had no idea why they were considered ‘legendary’. During the fight not to brag or anything but I remained victorious, no one could stop me. Then one guy came, he was a much smaller opponent than I was, but he was quick, agile, and he made good use of his height. He managed to land two punches on me before I finished him off… Is what I’d like to say, but unfortunately I lost to him. He wasn’t a boxer, nor a fighter of any kind. Yet, whatever I threw at him, he avoided it. He had the natural ability to dodge and parry. He even managed to throw back one of my kicks. He was fast.” Mokhoddis glanced at the teenagers again. The red shirt guy gestured the smaller guy to give him a hand. The smaller guy rushed the pocket in his phone and ran away.

“Needless to say, I lost the fight, my first taste of defeat. The worst part about the defeat was when I turned around, my entire gang had left including the man I considered my father. The people I considered family, left as soon as I became useless to them. I wanted to just lay down that day and rot, but…” Rashid stopped.

“What happened next?” Mokhoddis asked in curiosity. The bigger guy carried the blue shirt guy and walked over to the red shirt guy. He lended his hand over to the red shirt guy to grab.

“Someone lent me his hand and when he did, do you know what he told me?”


“He told me to pick up the painting.” Rashid paused and smiled. “I was so surprised by what he said that I started laughing in hysteria.”

Rashid looked at his clock and came to the realization that he had gone on a tangent. “Anyways Mokhoddis, the years of boxing had left my hands trembling. I couldn’t do tasks that required basic motor skills. When I first started painting, I found it so frustrating that I punched a hole in my wall.” Rashid punched the air.

Mokhoddis withdrew from Rashid out of reflex

“But over time I overcame my disability and learned to paint in my own way. I applied what I learned in boxing to painting. The straight, smaller lines to me are like jabs. The longer curved strokes are hook shots. A squiggle is an uppercut. The shading is a straight. I converted what I learned in boxing into painting. So why don’t you convert your logic to painting? After years of hard work, look where I am now?” Rashid held up his painting of a sunset.

“You completed it? Mokhoddis asked in amazement.”

Rashid smiled. “It turned out way better than I thought. Pretty good don’t ya think? And yours will turn out great too.”

“But I don’t have many years to master as you did, I only have tonight at best.”

“You’re a smart kid, you won’t need years like me.” Rashid smiled.

“I’ll try my best sir!.” Mokhoddis saluted.

“Well you should get going, school is about to start.” Rashid started packing his painting.

Mokhoddis nodded and started on his way but quickly turned back, “Wait are you going to submit your painting at the art contest tonight?”

“Hmm, I’ll think about it.”

“You should. You and I will win first and second place and show these kids how real painting is done.” Mokhoddis slyed.

“Mokhoddis!” Rashid shouted. “Did you not learn anything about our discussion today?!” Mokhoddis stood, with a sad look on his face. “Painting shouldn’t be taken as winning and losing. As long as a beautiful composition is produced, you beautify the whole world with your creation.” Rashid walked closer to Mokhoddis and stood next to him. From this angle, Rashid appeared even larger. Mokhoddis had to tilt his head up to meet Rashid’s eyes.

“Listen, the lack of logic is only half the problem in your painting. If you truly want to make a painting you’re happy with, don’t paint for yourself.” Rashid paused. “A painter who’s been inspired by his friends will produce a piece a thousand times greater than a painter who paints for himself. That’s my last advice to you before we part ways.”

“Rashid..” Mokhoddis couldn’t finish. Rashid disappeared into the shadows.