I hate school, but I loved learning. I learnt how to speak three different languages without being in any academy, although I am not fluent in any of these languages. I didn’t need to be boxed up in a classroom to learn them, I was interested, so naturally, I learnt. My first classroom experience, the…
I hate school, but I loved learning. I learnt how to speak three different languages without being in any academy, although I am not fluent in any of these languages. I didn’t need to be boxed up in a classroom to learn them, I was interested, so naturally, I learnt. My first classroom experience, the teacher kept talking incessantly about the shape of the earth. I don’t remember much except that in her tightly fitted gown, and oversize glasses, she looked intelligent compared to the rest of us. Now, I only feel reaped off because in a class full of immature minds like mine, she’d seized the opportunity to make us believe that whatever goes around, comes around. In her own very words, she explained what she meant was whatever you sow, you reaped and she so wisely said that to be so because, the earth was in the shape of a sphere. The earth kept going round and around, till all your deeds returned back to you. What she also meant by this, was that the earth was a fair place to live in. She lied. And instead, I wished she’d said that, sometimes the earth just got angry without a cause. Like the earthquakes that happened in my village five years ago, most people died because of it. My family too. None of them had caused it but they had received a painful blow when it came. Scientists said it was due to natural cause. The earth had been unfair in my opinion.
I only survived all this because I was in the city at the time, my Dad had forced me to stay with my Aunty after her husband’s death.
I remember home now like it was a dream, it was where my sister sang every day, while in her room, at the kitchen or talking with her friends, midway talking she broke into a melody. Most people that sang very well did not sing very often but my sister sang every time. I thought of her as a human bird. The only thing was that she was annoying, she was older than I was, and she loved to send me on stupid errands, it usually sounded like “Bello, will you go inside and get me my sunglasses it’s so hot outside, bello my earrings are on the drawers next to my shoes place them in their proper place for me, will you? And finally Bello do you know where and how one can get a cup of water to drink.” I thought she did all of these to annoy me, but I remembered she had grown up having Mini to listen to her naughtiness. Mini was our maid, she was just a maid to everyone else except me. Since mother was never at home and always had something to do at work, Mini stayed with me. Mini was her work name, her real name was Miriam.
One time I overheard when father was telling mum not go out that it was late. He was threatening her seriously and although he seemed calmer than before, it only reminded me of when he used to beat her. His voice echoed that night, he warned her that she had better not meet with her boss, but she said that he made her very happy and father asked if we didn’t, and she said nothing but that we only looked for faults in her. That was when I really started to look for faults, and I found so many. The truth was if you start looking for faults in every person you will find them. My sister used to preach to me, she said love was the cure. It was not such a good cure sometimes, my mother loved a man more than her children. It killed me to think so, I was never sure though because Mini was always there, my mother had hired her to play her role.
I now live with my Aunt, she is kind sometimes just like most people are, but the rest of the time she seems drunk but she really isn’t, she is just sad. She lost most of her family to the same earthquake and all she had now was me. Her husband was late and she’d no children for him. Sometimes, I think I have come to fill their space in her life even though I never really wanted to. My aunt is still young, she is my mother’s younger sister, and she still catches the attention of many, especially mine.
My school is trash, and most of the teachers hate me for no apparent reason, plus my classmates think I am “different”. I know I am, but I thought everyone was. My favorite thing to do in school was to wander about and often, I would get caught sleeping in a new place I had discovered and get punished. When I am not wandering or sleeping in school, I am eating, you can’t control such things.
It’s always raining these days, and I hoped the cloud would never get as angry as the earth had. I am not very sure of what would happen then, but it bothered me so much that I asked my aunt, she said it would not happen, then as if she thought it would calm me she told me the story of the flood and of Noah and the promise God made with man, the colorful rainbow and I was happy, because even if I didn’t someone at least believed strongly that we were safe. My Aunt began to preach then, she said we were nothing without God. Really, nothing. Later I thought, maybe the cloud wouldn’t get angry but something worse would happen, maybe the trees, what if they want to avenge their felling. When I asked why such bad things happened, and if we were created just to experience them. My aunt said that in matters of life, it was not a very wise question to ask why and just to trust in God all things.
I am open to God, I know he exists because I can’t stop myself from blaming him when anything bad happens to me, like when that earthquake occurred. Whenever bad things happened to me I always remember him. I don’t know why and I don’t think is fair. Maybe I don’t have faith.
I am 15, but I already have an enemy and it’s a boy in my class who never thinks good of others. He always had something bad to say and has been telling everyone I am a freak. I never argued about it within myself, but it felt like an insult to hear it from someone else. I beat him after school and the next day the principal sent for me, she said I was expelled. I told you they hate me.
I had to cry, even though I was happy. So before my Aunt was back from work I started to cut onions, two large ones, I washed my hands to get the reek of onions out, but you know it can never go away easily. It reminded me of my mom’s hands.
When her horn sounded I started to really cry, she came into my room alarmed, what is it Bello? What’s wrong?” I told her I got expelled and she was shocked, suddenly she began to apologize that she wasn’t being a good mother to me, that my mother would have done it better. My aunt thought she was the reason for all the bad things that happened to her, she blamed herself that her husband died and that I couldn’t be with my family. Nothing about that was true and I wanted to comfort her because she was now crying because of me. I really wanted to hold her and I don’t know how it happened but I ended up kissing her.
She moved back, she seemed repulsed, because she slapped me.
“What has come over you?”
I looked away.
“Bello, I am sorry but you can’t do that.” She said.
She left the room and I felt bad, I’d always thought of doing that, Mini used to kiss me on the mouth affectionately. And I thought my Aunt would not mind because she did not mind when she caught me looking at her while having her shower. It happened every morning during the holidays and I was very sure she didn’t mind because even though she saw me, she kept leaving the door slightly open, just enough for me to see through.
I can’t explain how I found myself in the hospital, I think my Aunt is over reacting. She keeps glancing at me, as the doctor speaks. I like this doctor because he says am normal, and that such things can happen with a boy of my age and that maybe my aunt should educate me on it and that only made her frown.
The car ride home was the longest, truthfully I wished everything was easy, and she would stop looking at me like I was a…a…freak, that word again.
“We will have to look for a new school for you. You can’t stay at home.”
I wanted to ask her why not, but I refrained from doing so.
When we got home she left the car very quickly, and by the time I got inside the house all I heard was the forceful slamming of her bedroom door.
I went into my room and I don’t know why but I started to cry for real, no onions involved.
The next day was Saturday and my Aunt was dressed in an overflowing shapeless gown, she wore no make-up and she avoided looking at me at all cost. She looked really modest, not like she was not before. But she was a bit free when it came to her dressing at home, she usually wore no bra and I could always see the outline of her nipple pointing out of her shirt. She also used to call me to her room to help zip her into a tightly fitted dress. It was normal, but suddenly all that felt like a thing of the past because of one kiss.
She called me to eat, and while we were eating I tried to use that time to apologize, but she shushed me up and told me not to talk while eating. I never got another chance to apologize or I simply forgot to do so because after that time she retired to her room and so did I.
In my room, I couldn’t help but think of my sister, what would she think of me and the situation I am in, she had always been judgmental. So she would say I was very wrong and I should go for confession, just maybe that’s what she will say. It had not happened before so there was no way to truly know.
Once in a while I remember some nice things about my mother, deep down I know she truly loved us.
She used to bathe me, dress me up in some sweet smelling pajamas and cover my neck and face with white powder, she would cuddle me to sleep and kiss me when I had fallen asleep, those kind of dreams were a reality before.
Many of the schools my Aunt went to said I would have to wait for a new academic year, but fortunately one school managed to accept that I start immediately. I was really grateful to my Aunt. And I thought maybe I would try to be less of a freak in my new school.
The people in this school are really nice, maybe it’s because I am new. They smile at me and show me my way when I am lost. Also on my first day I made a friend his name is Mali, this has never happened before. Also do you believe in love at first sight? Because I do. I really do. She is Anita, all I know about her is on her face, she is real fine. It sounds petty but she has a nice build, almost handsome. I tell Mali almost too quickly about my feelings for Anita because he is friendly and almost certain he shrugged vut when I asked him he said nothing, except that she was eye candy.
When I got home, My Aunt was home, she looked beautiful not like Anita. It was a little different. But she seemed serious and I found out that she wanted to have a talk about sex. I didn’t know much about that except what I saw on T.v whenever there was light. Most adults keep it a secret, my sister said she started having sex before she knew what it meant and that she would tell me about it when I returned from my visit, but that never happened, because of the earthquake. My aunt was obviously shy and I had to keep from laughing, she said a whole lot and that I could use the internet on her computer to research if I wanted, but most importantly she said sex was for married people. I nodded, maybe I should get married.
I was overly aware of my body after the lecture my aunt gave me, I hoped she never noticed.
Teachers at this school were okay, they corrected me patiently and taught things that were true but did not make so much sense. I found out more about Anita later, like the universe was on my side her seat was beside mine, she was there but I was always thinking of her before she said something that would interrupt my reverie. It was usually something stupid, it was a pity she was not very smart. But she was nice especially to boys, I later found out later that she was a giver; she satisfied their sexual needs. It hurt but I still liked her; maybe you can’t control these things.
When I came one day from school one, my Aunt was not at home, she didn’t come till later in the evening. I was so worried that she had to apologize, she said she would buy me a phone so I could reach her, in case something like that happened again. I had a feeling she was seeing someone because it did happen again, several times and each time I could smell a man’s cologne on her. I grew jealous.
Mali was not as good as I thought, almost everything in my school was not as it seemed. If the class is quiet, don’t think it’s because they feel like it, something else is going on and if a boy gives a girl a letter, is not because he really cares, he thinks he does at first but later he wants a cookie too. Mali was among those who took girls out, drugged them and did whatever he pleased with them. I found out about this on my fifth week in school. I was a freak because this boy had thought I would be interested. I felt weird when I saw a girl I knew lying down there looking lifeless, and I asked what happened to her, he said I should know. I don’t know. I really don’t know, is she dead, I yelled. He tried to calm me down before he explained, he was not alone, there were three of them there, these boys sat in the same class together with these girls, they were not street boys, they laughed and played with these girls in school, and yet they took turns to take them out and violate them. I felt sorry for the world. These boys were the best behaved in class and were known to never seek after the favors of girls like Anita. That was one of the reasons they assumed I was like them, since I don’t ask for favors as well, they assumed I was a predator. Nothing is ever enough when the devil is with you, I could hear my sister say. It was in her spiteful tone.
The next morning, I saw the same girl that I had mistaken for dead. She had a smile. And I think that’s why I don’t believe in smiling, everyone is trying desperately to seem happy, they want to hide their pain so badly. I found out that day that one of the boys that drugged her was her boyfriend. Logic escaped me.
My aunt was early from work, I could smell onions from the kitchen and I went over. I watched her eagerly as she moved pans, plates and towels, she served me and I ate slowly. She asked if everything was okay, and I couldn’t contain myself. I wanted to tell her about boys and girls and the world, and other things like sand, air but even with the smell of food I started to perceive that man’s cologne, so I asked her if she was seeing anyone and she didn’t answer, when someone doesn’t answer what does it mean. I think it means defeat. So I left and went up to my room.
I started thinking really hard there, just like before, about myself and other people, about my Mother who left us and my father who beat her, and my sister who always wanted to be righteous but failed woefully. I thought about my Aunt and the ugly attraction I felt for her. I think about those givers, and how they can never be enough for boys like Malik. I thought about pain. And about the earth quaking, and that it had the right to do so, because it was not really destroying us, we had destroyed ourselves and it was trying to prevent us from destroying it. I thought about a tree, never causing harm to anyone, just giving life to other things. And then I wished I were a tree, or part of the air or mixed in the sands. Still and calm causing no harm.