Social interaction had always been a mystery to me. The fact that my family was constantly relocating made me see friendship as a transient thing I suppose. I mean, what was the point of bonding with the neighbourhood children if you knew your presence was only temporary. Back then, there was a TV show about a surprisingly well groomed German Shepherd who wandered around helping people in bad situations. He always left them at the end of the episode, never even sticking around for a pat on the head. I could relate.
That isn’t to say that I never tried to make friends; I did once. In Primary School, Mario De Souza, Leslie Phillips and I had this weird thing where we would duck out of class and go running around the block. “Flickin’ Daily Exercise” we called it- and it was grand. I have no idea which one of us started it, or how we decided that that was the name for it but we did it faithfully – until some parent or other saw us on the streets and called the Principal. That was the end of that. Soon afterward, my friends turned on me. Maybe it was the lack of exercise, or maybe it was the fact that I started wearing glasses- but Instead of daily workouts, there was daily abuse. Initially, I would return their insults, but my resistance only fuelled their trolling. I would end up in tears mostly.
By the time I was in secondary school, I had learned not to cry-not to show emotion. Silence became my weapon for coping with abuse- and it was effective- to a point. There were some days where I wanted to lash out.
Today was one of those days.
Dexter slapped the Physics textbook out of my hands and of course it landed face down on its pages. Predictably, he made a point of stepping on it-slowly grinding it into the classroom floor. It didn’t help that this was the rainy season and the old tiles were covered with muddy footprints.
“Waays, you takin’ that,” Bobby barked.
“You is a real bobolee dread,” Rishi chimed in.
Dexter seemed inspired by Rishi’s comment and took the opportunity to slap me across the back of the head, my glasses almost coming off with the blow.
“Leave me alone nah,” I pleaded as I put my specs back into place. The lenses were covered with my fingerprints now, the result of me scrambling to catch them before they fell.
“Wha’ yuh go do?” Dexter challenged, kicking my book across the floor and slapping me a second time behind the head.
By now a small crowd of boys had gathered around and a chorus of oohs started as my physics text skidded to a halt. My patience was now at its limit.
“Ask yuh mudda,” I replied.
Instinctively I stood up, pushed Dexter out of the way and moved to retrieve my book. The sudden burst of laughter clued me in to the fact that he had fallen on his ass. That everyone had seen me embarrass him like that enraged him. His fists clenched even before he got to his feet.
I knew what was coming.
Picture Credit: http://www.brainpowerlearning.com/TheBullyAroundtheCorner.html