She came to me one afternoon while I was trying to take a nap during lunch break. I’ve come to know her just lately. She seem hesitant to approach me, but managed to say something anyway. She said in a small voice, “Hi, do you mind if I sit beside you?” I propped myself up from my reclining chair saying, “No not at all.” Pulling a chair with one hand and holding a glass of water on the other, she thanked me with her lips and bothered eyes. “Can I tell you something?” she started. “I know we barely knew each other, but I feel like I could trust you.” I said, “Sure, what is it?” “I know you’re into writing, I thought you would be interested in my story.” She caught my attention. I grabbed my pen and journal and started to listen. Her first sentence was quite unexpected. “I was bullied since first grade,” she said. I did not judge her. “I don’t know why, but every time, there there will always be one guy sometimes more, who would make my life difficult.” She continued. “I remember during first grade. I have a seatmate. She had a brother who sits with us in class. He would always tease me because my skirt didn’t have a zipper. He would say it out loud inside the classroom. I didn’t have a choice at that time. I need to wear the school uniform before it was finished. We only had it fixed later. It was humiliating! After a while that boy did not attend our class anymore. I thought it would be better now, but I was wrong. His sister (my seatmate) whom I also referred to as my “best friend” at that time turned out to be a “beast friend.” She was envious of me and would take my stuff as whenever she likes them. She even made me skip class!” I can’t believe what a brat her friend was. “And you just let her do that?” I interrupted. “Yeah.” she said. I can’t help but ask why. Then she sadly replied, “Because she would pinch me so hard I could not refuse.” “You should have left her and stopped being her friend then.” I said with a louder voice (I got angry to what her so called friend did to her). “She was the only friend I had,” she said. I looked at her and didn’t say another word. She looked outside the window and continued. “On the second grade, we were still classmates” I thought, “Oh brother, give her a break.” To my relief she continued, “But we were no longer classmates, so we were not longer close.” “Thank goodness!” I muttered. “However, I had this classmate who sits behind me and he had a wing man. They made second grade hell for me.” “It just keeps getting better does it?” I said pun intended. As if she didn’t hear me, she just kept looking outside the window telling me the rest of the story. “These boys are bad. They flipped girls’ skirts, I was one of their victims, they melt watusi (some kind of a fire cracker sold outside the school) by hand, he hold my hands so I can’t move and force us to smell it. It was disgusting! Then one time he said he had a crush on me. That was the first time I heard of that word. I wasn’t thrilled at all!” she exclaimed. “I was eight! We all were.” and I couldn’t agree more. My daughter is nine. It made me wonder for a moment how are the kids these days? Hearing that I said, “Maybe that was the reason he kept on bugging you.” She had that I-know-right look on her face and shook her head. With a deep sigh she narrated, “Third grade was the worst.” she continued. “..and then there were three (or more).” “The numbers just kept on adding,” I said while still pinned on my journal. “There were boys from another class that would wait on us (girls) to the (dis)comfort room to do our business and they would peek through the hinge of the door. One time it was really bad that they pushed the door open and embarrassed the girls peeing!” she narrated. “I also had a classmate who was exposed buy his friend in class that he was planning to rape me.” I was shocked! I can’t believe what I just heard. I wanted to clarify so I asked her, “What happened?” She answered, “We are about to start our lesson when the word got out to the teacher and made my classmate confess to the class his bad plan. The whole class booed him, but I had no reaction. I had no idea what they were talking about. That was the first time I heard the word “rape” – inside a third grade classroom (she attended a public school). How very appropriate (sarcasm). For the record, it didn’t happen. Thank God!” she said and goes on, “I got sick and tired of these boys wanting me. They would block my path on campus. They would pull my hand, touch my hair, stand really close to annoy me (on separate occasions). They all have something in common and I have developed some kind of defense when it come to their category. I could smell them when they’re approaching.” She paused and drank the glass of water she was holding. All that story telling made her thirsty. It’s almost time and she’s not done yet. But I didn’t mind it’s quite a story so far. “I realized I can’t let them do that to me anymore,” she continued. “I tried to look and act tough come fourth grade. I wasn’t alone. This time there were three of us. I have found kind girls who stood by me. They were with me on my plan of striking back and we did. I was their leader. I punched, kicked, even bit my way out of fourth grade,” she ended with a laugh. I laughed with her upon hearing the last sentence. We had the same thought saying “kids!” show through our eyes. The alarm went off. Afternoon office hours starts now. She thanked me for listening and I told her I appreciate her trusting me. She smiled and walked away.
This is my longest post yet in terms of word count. It made me realize a few things:
- How important it is to listen first before we judge
- Some people just needed someone to talk to
- Understand where people are coming from before we define them and
- Be kind to others because they may be going through something difficult
Who is she? You ask. She may be your daughter, your friend, your sister or your mom who chose to be strong for you. Thank you for reading.
The girl in the photo is my daughter. She’s not the subject of this post. This was taken a year ago while we were comparing our hair lengths. I thought I would be able use the photo in the future. Now I did.