Memories Etched

It has been said – by many people that the friends you make in school are the ones that you will possibly cherish for the rest of your life.

Many of you may agree with this statement. I’m one of the few that will disagree. School life was one of my most traumatizing moments. And I’ve never forgotten some of the things that people did to me and said to me while I was growing up.

Being the ugly duckling in school – the one who was gawky, tall, overweight and socially awkward, it was a task in itself. Kids can be cruel and I bore the brunt of it extensively. Plus I was too scared to retort or speak up for myself. That was possibly one of my biggest drawbacks.

There are some moments that I can never forget – to the point that my teachers noticed the behaviour of my fellow classmates. Some of my teachers were kinder towards me, they took care of me and were always encouraging. The others decidedly turned a blind eye with the mantra “kids will be kids..” and didn’t do anything. A couple of my teachers were vocal about it and pulled up the students that were cruel towards me – but that got me into more trouble with the kids. They thought I was the ‘teacher’s pet’ – and was the ‘favourite’. They still continued taking pot shots at me, being cruel in a way only adolescent kids can.

7th Grade was probably when things really escalated to a new high of school bullying and cruelty. I remember there being a girl who made it a point to make sure that not one of my classmates spoke to me – and if you weren’t friends with her, you were the one who had to left sitting in a corner, by yourself and no one should talk to you. I was the one singled out. She made it a point to see that no one chose me as a partner in our Physical Ed class, or in any other projects that required you to have a partner. I was the last one chosen for everything. Everyone called me the ‘last loser’ – and it was a joke in class that if you got paired up with me – you were also a loser. During our lunch breaks, I was made to sit in a corner alone, and everyone ran off and didn’t speak to me and poked fun at me. Some of them would look at me and pointedly make jokes in my direction. Some simply laughed at me and pointed fingers at me. I don’t remember there being ever a day that I’d not cry during my lunch breaks. A couple of girls and boys from the other classes (who are still friends today) would come and talk to me and try and make me feel better and they would ask if I wanted to move to their class – in a way that only kids can. I would cry and tell them I wanted to leave or not come back to school because it was a continuous struggle for me and that I needed to be away from them.

My mom would come to school every day to pick me up because she knew how bad the situation in my class. She even went to my class teacher and told her that she was thinking of pulling me out of school because I was crying and begging my parents every day to take me out of this ‘god awful place’. My studies were badly affected, and I started failing in a lot of subjects. I had reached a new low.

It didn’t stop there – during my 7th Grade I lost my grandfather, who I was very close to. At that age, it was the first death in my immediate family that I had witnessed and it shattered my world. The day after all the rituals were completed I went to school and some kids were kind and sympathetic and spoke very sweetly to me. My teachers made it a point to tell the class that they should be nice to me and not say anything that would affect my state even more. But, when you’re a teenager, when do you ever listen? I had a rough couple of days at school, but some of these kids decided that they’d still make fun of me. One of them.. the same girl who kept bullying me called me a ‘fat cry baby’ – and made sure people didn’t offer their sympathies. I felt like this was it – the end of the road for me. How can people be this heartless? I went home sobbing to my dad and told him I hated school. I hated the kids and I didn’t want to go back. My dad, the man who can never see me cry finally lost his temper and came to school with me the next day and spoke to my teachers and told them that he would report all of these incidents to the principal if there was no action taken. She promised that she’d make sure that in 8th Grade, I’d be pulled out of this class and put into another one. Keeping that in mind, I cried less, and started to find my voice. I started to retort to the kids who had been bullying me all this time.. And that’s when I realized, I’m not as weak as people made me out to be.

After I graduated from school, I vowed that I’d never associate myself with these people, ever again. Yes, there are some people who are still my support – and my friends that stuck with me throughout this entire ordeal and we are closer than ever. As I grew older, I started taking lessons from these experiences. I came out of my shell. I didn’t hold back. It fuelled a fire in me to prove something to not just myself, but to these kids who had been a source of my pain growing up.

Today I look at myself in the mirror and think, “I’ve successfully achieved a lot on my own merits and I’ve broken away from the norm.” Today, I see some of these people on FB with their ‘perfect’ lives and their ‘perfect’ families and their ‘perfect’ marriages and think to myself – thank god I never became one of them and chose my own path, and my own life. So, to all of you who made my life a living nightmare in school, I want to thank you for making me the person I am today because without the endless ‘torture’ and bullying, I wouldn’t be the strong, independent woman I am today and for that, I am ever grateful. Suck it. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Memories Etched

  1. A says:

    A very touching post; brought tears to my eyes. I recently found out that my little brother is being bullied badly by his peers because he has severe asthma and so there are a lot of restrictions on his movement etc. His bullies have gone to appalling limits, and he is now scared of going out to play.

    I was looking up the internet for articles on childhood bullying and how to deal with it, and landed on your blog. I write a blog too and I’ve written two posts on bullying. I was bullied at school too; it REALLY sucks. It’s ambient abuse, very scarring, and kids can be really cruel.

    Hats off to you for coming out of it stronger. I’m glad I came across your blog. Hugs, and may you be an inspiration to all.

    Do read my posts on this topic whenever you get the time …. The Scars That Never Fade and Childhood Bullying – A Necessary Evil

    Take care 🙂 you have a nice blog here. Keep writing.

  2. Shilpa S. Shah says:

    Hi and thank you for the kind words.
    Bullying is something I’ve gone through extensively in school as you can tell from my blog post. A lot of people who are in my life now, know about it and I’ve only just decided to make it *public*

    Re: Your little brother. Kids today are really really cruel and some of them are worse to kids who have health issues. Asthma is something that is extremely serious and it’s not something kids should make fun of.

    Have you tried speaking to his principal or class teacher? I used to be a teacher myself and I found that the one cardinal rule is to never let them feel they’re ‘different’ if they have a disability or a health issue. I had a kid in one of my classes who was hyperactive, and he wouldn’t get things the first time. Instead of segregating him from the class, I encouraged him to talk about the topic we discussed. Even if it took him a little longer than the rest. But I saw a growth that gave me the satisfaction of knowing he was doing brilliantly, and even though kids made fun of him, he carried on and did better.

    My simple advice to you is, speak to his teachers. Be a pillar of support and more protective. It’s harsh that kids are so awful today, but as long as he’s got support and encouragement and someone looking over his shoulder, he may feel a little more protected and will be stronger.
    I hope that you as a family get through this, it’s really tough and I’m glad you came across my blog.. God bless x

  3. A says:

    Hi, thanks a ton for your advice 🙂

    The trouble is, the bullying has also begun within the residential colony. We did speak to his teachers, and that did put an end to overt bullying at school. As his older sis, I do keep supporting and encouraging him, and have spoken to the bullies within the colony and their parents. The kids don’t care and laugh it off. Some parents scoff at us and are not willing to believe that their child is doing the wrong thing (horrible parenting!), some others have had a talk with their kids and the bullying has stopped.

    But what does the child do if no one wants to be his friend, and all his peers keep him out of their groups? We can’t force them to accept him. That in itself is really disheartening for the child 😦 … the feeling of having no friends is devastating. It makes a kid feel so unworthy and small. We are doing our best, and always tell him he is a brilliant, talented, and wonderful kid… but is that enough? He’s just 13 years old.

    I remember no one standing up for me when I was bullied. It’s taken me 25 years to realize that the bullies were the sick freaks, not me.

    Thank you, again, for your advice 🙂 you seem to be a good and sensitive teacher. I wonder if there are any courses in teachers’ training programmes that impart skills on how to help develop childrens’ personalities? I think that should be mandatory.

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