high school memories
photo credit: thatsfit.com
i graduated from elementary school in the philippines with honors. i remember the high expectations. the day after graduation, i went to my maternal grandma’s house. i saw my aunts sitting around the kitchen table spending the afternoon with the latest gossip. when i passed by, they looked at me with admiring eyes. they marveled at how fast i was turning into a young man with a bright future ahead.
high school should be a great transition from grade school. it should be a time to cherish and remember. it wasn’t for me. i didn’t find it easy. i lost it in high school. i messed up real good.
it didn’t help that on the first day of school, i found myself seated beside the school’s bully in the last row of the class. he introduced himself to me by grabbing my manhood and squeezing it so hard that i cried in pain. when the teacher heard my sobbing, she just ignored it. i was on my own. for days he continually humiliated me until eventually he stopped. by then, i had lost faith in authority.
it was the time to be a man. it was the time to learn standing on your own. when somebody abused you in school, you didn’t go running to your mother and start crying. you learned to practice the code of silence as the big boys did. you kept everything to yourself hoping that you’d survive the onslaught.
during the start of the sophomore year, a new teacher came. you couldn’t help but like him. he was easy-going and friendly. he introduced scouting to the school and nominated himself as the scout master. i got interested and joined. everything was cool from the get-go. i enjoyed the long hikes, astronomy lessons, camping, and first aid classes. i also enjoyed the team building activities. most of all, i enjoyed the judo training that helped me discover the inner strength that i thought i never had.
but all good things must come to an end. i was on my way to becoming an eagle scout when things went awry. it was around midnight. our troop was camping in the wilderness when suddenly i heard one of the scouts yelling and crying and the scout master trying to appease him.
“why did you do that to me?” he cried. “why, why, why?”
while the scout was fast asleep, the scout master performed this despicable sex act on him. the scout master proved to be a fox in sheep clothing.
when the senior scouts learned what happened, they mutinied. the scout master got so scared that he hid in a cottage. all night they pelted the cottage with rocks while shouting obscenities at him. i could only imagine the fear in his eyes as he huddled in a corner. junior scouts like me watched and thought that he’d be dead by morning. it didn’t happen. cooler heads had prevailed.
after the incident, i thought he would quit his teaching position. he never did. to their credit, the school administrators handled the situation with grace and fairness. they cancelled the scouting program, but they didn’t fire him. they honored his contract and let him stay until the school term ended. in return, nobody was expelled.
in high school, i became rebellious. i showed less respect for school authorities. i became a pain in the neck for some teachers by questioning their teaching methods. in one literature class, for example, i questioned the relevance of telling anecdotes about an author. i thought they were silly and irrelevant. after i had spoken, i expected the teacher to engage me in the usual repartee, but i was mistaken. she was incensed. she had enough of me. she remarked that if i didn’t like the way she taught, i was free to leave and that i didn’t have to show my face in her class again to get a passing grade.
looking back, i realize now that i had been mean to her. she was right about telling those ‘silly’ anecdotes. knowing about the author helps in understanding their works and makes reading them more enjoyable. i offer my literature teacher my sincere apologies.
as i went through high school, i saw my grades hitting bottom. by senior year, i was barely passing. worse, i became involved into something that nearly got me expelled. somehow i did manage to graduate to the delight of my parents.
the bully that tormented me had graduated, too, to the delight of the faculty. i thought we’d never cross path again, but we did. i was a college graduate then getting my birth certificate at the civil registrar’s office. he was standing by the entrance of the municipal building where the office was located. he was already a cop allied to a local politician.
in college, i continued my study of martial arts for another two years. when i saw him, all the built up anger inside surfaced. i wondered what made me scared of him before. i thought of challenging him and smacking his face right there. i knew he could still beat me but not without a good fight this time. as fate would have it, we ended up ignoring each other.
i left the place feeling redemption. faced with my demons, i was able to get hold of my emotions and didn’t do something stupid. my sensei would have been proud. clutching the birth certificate in my hand, i saw a new world beckoned. i was on my way to the u.s. i imagined grandma and aunts having that same look of pride in their eyes once again as they sat around the kitchen table many years ago.