Me and My Bullies: A True Story

Me and My Bullies: A True Story

 Turning it Around – Their Terrors, My Pains, My Gains/

I was possibly the most bullied kid I knew and for years, I used to shy away from the pains I endured in my preteen years. Recently though, as I began to realize how much my story could draw attention to the issues of bullying which many children face, I knew the time to confront my past had come. Many children live with many tyrants and I hope that they can draw strength from my story. I hope this strength helps them fight back.

Home is a family of eight (six kids plus parents) and the strain of raising six children was a burden my mother bore alone. She had just sacked the last help before I turned seven. Therefore, being the second child and the first girl (yeah…girl), I grew up a little too fast. From breakfast to the time I left for school, felt like a military training session as the hurry to do every task within the shortest time possible was the chief priority for me and my mother. When school closed at 2pm or 4pm (depending on the school schedule), I was home in time…helping around the house.

I became the second mother in the house at that early age and I bore my tasks as best as I could. Maybe it was this…maybe it wasn’t but, I was scrawny and (as ‘everyone’ would say) as ugly as a mouse.

Scrawny and ugly was not something that I could help but, I was equally unkempt as I was my laundry caretaker too…a combination of these three ‘sins’, made me the easy target for bullies…they could be more than three ‘sin’ though.

It wasn’t unusual for the boys in my class to drag me to a corner during break periods and just begin to bash my head against the wall, slap my face until it bruised and then, kick me on the stomach. My crime ranged from being too ugly to too skinny to too unkempt to too spooky to too quiet and the list just kept growing until, there was no other reason except that I existed. Many days, I picked up my bloody self and returned to the class and the only victory in my heart would be that I still didn’t cry!

I had no one to call a friend as no one even wanted me for a neighbor in the class. I remember this experience…. We had just passed into a new class and at that age, girls and boys were becoming more conscious of their sexes and so, we usually sat separate-the boys staying separate rows from the girls. This time though, it was different as the teacher said, a boy must sit between two girls and so on. When the teacher called me and appointed two guys to sit beside me, they immediately shouted, ‘Aunty no!’ The class burst into laughter. The woman insisted and so, they became my neighbours.

Often, the boys fought as they pushed their lockers away from mine. They drew lines on the floor which my locker would never dare cross. Some days, my locker would have been smashed. Some days, I was beaten and blamed for causing their fights. I always took their beatings stoically and though it always earned me more kicks, I was determined to never cry and I never told my ever absent father or my always busy mother. We all had a cross to bear so why burden anyone with my problems?

What I would find funny these days were the teachers who would pick on me because ‘popular opinion’ had elected me as the target. To give them a little credit, I was either late to school or I never answered a question thrown to me. Between getting my younger siblings ready for school and preparing myself, there was really no way I could be early and I always paid the price. The teachers who loved to pick on me would drag me out to the front of the class and then, flog me until I bled. My offence? Lateness and their gain? Providing the comic relief. You see, the class usually howled with laughter as my pinafore usually made a ‘poof!’ sound whenever the cane connected. I was too scrawny to ever fill in a dress properly. The floggings were never enough as I usually got the task of darkening the blackboard after school hours too.

I stayed brilliant throughout my preteen years and I remember once, I was the only girl chosen among some boys to represent my school when the school hosted an inter-school quiz. My school lost but, we shouldn’t have. I knew the answers to most of our questions but, God forbid that scrawny mouse talks! The courage to defend my school had flown away even before the quiz commenced.

How indeed would I have had the courage to defend my school when I had no courage to defend myself against a boy who insisted that I changed my name to his otherwise, he would kill me the next school day? I didn’t want to die and so, I went home and asked my mother to please begin to call me ‘Uchenna’, which was the boy’s name. My mother found it amusing that I liked that particular name all of a sudden. She even indulged me by calling me the name that evening and I was happy. The next day though, the boy didn’t even remember my ‘assignment’ and I was happier.

With me each day of school was my favourite meal; yam. I was soon to be deprived of this pleasure. I was enjoying a class one day when my teacher began to ask us our favourite meal. Almost everyone claimed rice and chicken or salad or plantains or spaghetti or macaroni and all foods like them until my turn came. Even before I was asked, I was already shaking nervously because I was the only ‘local food eater’. I was already thinking up a lie…rice or spaghetti but, I needn’t had bothered. The teacher got to me, called my surname and said, “yam”…along with every other person in the class. Once again, I provided the comic relief. Needless to say, yam became my enemy at that very moment even up till today.

If the loss of appetite for my favourite dish was bruising, the attention of thrill seekers even among boys of that age was pathetic and horrible to go through. I remember that a guy threatened to push me down a storey building if I refused to let him “do me”. The fear of what my mother would do to me was what made me stand my ground against that bully and other thriller seekers. Somehow, it just felt like what I would rather die than accept.

I remember telling a boy that if it was that good, he should do it to his own sister. I remember the girl pleading with him to let her be. I was out of the door and fleeing the school to really know what happened or didn’t happen that day.

There are male bullies and there are female bullies. This is saddening but true. It wasn’t boys who discovered I had forgotten to wear my panties to school one fateful day. The girls did, and I paid a price for that forgetfulness. I was made to believe that the game of throwing me into the air and catching me would be very refreshing if I participated. My gratitude at been included in a game is one I am yet to forget.

The game started well for me and was going well too until, I discovered that many boys were forming a beeline around us. I was surprised but happy that my ‘skill’ or should I say, glee was indeed charming enough to draw the boys who usually stayed away from girlie games. Well, my people say that a mad man is never ashamed of himself…his kinsmen carry his shame. In my case, the girls became jealous of the attention my ‘nudity’ was grabbing and suddenly, one of the girls forcefully yanked my cape and I fell to the ground. A hand forcefully pushed me to a corner and a terse voice spat out, “Next time, wear your panties…” They all dispersed while I picked up myself from the ground amidst the jeers of the boys. This happened over a decade ago but, I have never gone outside my doors without panties till date…what a lesson!

I remember stealing a lot of the foreign pencils and cleaners that my parents kept in the home. I wasn’t stealing them because I needed them. I stole them because I discovered that whenever I brought them and someone yanked them from my hand; it brought joy to the person. So, I began to steal them and give to those who usually beat me up and they became my protectors. This saw me through for a while until the goodies ran out and I went back to square one.

Leaving my preteen school wasn’t in a blaze of glory even though I made the beautiful score that saw me straight into college. I was warned before hand by the boys that, they were going to beat me up ‘after school’. “To be forewarned is to before arm” Abi? I immediately ran away from my class and through so many hide and seek; I was able to run away from school unbeaten. I haven’t gone back since then.

Why did I take all these bullying? Why did I never fight back? I would never be able to go back and hear all my thoughts in those days or even understand all the reasons why I never fought back so…gone with the wind.

I have never looked in the mirror and seen a beautiful me. I don’t do ‘swan’ stories but, I believe this is to my advantage. I do not care about looks. I do not bother about who likes me and who doesn’t.

The bad that I deal with is my constant weight issues. In my college years, I became a junk food addict as I tried to gain weight at all costs. I didn’t want to be scrawny anymore. I did gain weight but till tomorrow, I am still fighting off the weight I gained. When not fighting off weight, I am worrying about gaining it back….

They say attitude is everything and I always like to believe this. My attitude towards these dark moments of my life has really defined me. I believe that the acceptance of the good and the bad that I have been through has made a more refined and better me.

For one, I know that those who hurt others are only hopelessly masking their own hurts, shame and complexes. I know that happy people do not have the conscience to hurt others and this brings a certain consolation to my heart.

Yes, I was alone in my world but, I became a reader and an observer. I have read hundreds of books (if I can’t say thousands) and really, I know that my ability to read people and events beautifully has made me the writer that I am today. The more I withdrew from people, the more I bettered myself and honed my skills as a writer and a critic (sure, this came later). I wrote my first novella at the age of nine and my first song at that age too.

I still do not have many friends (not because I still remember the mockeries I got from people whom I wrote letters to asking them to be my friends) but, I have better people skills and I am more humane in my dealings with all.

I am above the jeers and I feel happy living my life as a tougher woman. Not only can no one intimidate me; no one can intimidate anyone…under my watch. I have suddenly become ‘somebody’…

The scars of yesteryears remain but, through them all, I see no better way I should have turned out. Every pain has refined me in its own way and I am grateful for that and even more grateful for the grace to appreciate that. I see very few of those who used to bully me and it is a shame that they haven’t turned out better than me…I thought they were too superior to share a world with me. I meet some of these bullies and they want to be friends…and we talk sometimes.

This world keeps ‘shrinking’ through the possibilities of technology…isn’t it then a blessing that I can look through the world and see that my bullies still live on it and not in mars? I still see that they haven’t grown a second head.

I do not gloat at all but, having seen my gains as I turned around my life of pains; I can’t help but be grateful that my former bullies can see what a tougher woman I have become.

33 thoughts on “Me and My Bullies: A True Story” by adaobiokwy (@adaobiokwy)

  1. Hmmm, you have me so into you!(Oops! Lol, not dat way o, I mean your writing). I love the way your words flow into one another. Great writing Sis!

    1. hahahahaha…no fear. Thanks 4 being in2 the writer.
      thanks for commenting

  2. All rise to a standing ovation:
    Wow! @adaobiokwy
    Most of us have tales of challenges and youthful experiences. Personally, till Junior High (hee hee hee, I mean Junior Secondary School before una kill me), I was among the little or weak ones in school. I had several bullies but unlike you, I never allowed it pass. I remember several bruises and lost teeth but I always answered every beef. Always had the beatings from mates and seniors but much as I could, I replied. Somehow, I grew into a nerd but also sharpened my muscles such that I found a way to become the people’s darlings and get protection. But trust me, it was not before I got my revenge on a few people and got my reputation – rep as they call it. Like you said truly, such experiences make you become a protector too. You get to notice people and also think of them. Brings to mind a time in Senior Secondary Three when I decided to fall to the pressure of a Prefect friend of mine. I had been pushed to the wall by a certain junior friend. My friend gave me his belt – yeah, that’s what most of them used. I carried the belt and struck. What I noticed in a matter of seconds was the belt swirling in the air, hitting my friend who was behind me and coming back to wrap itself around me. Trust, that was the last time I played with any beating. You know, I could write a story on beating and all but this is only meant to be a comment and not a chance for me to steal your glory (sha, how we no go do am…when gold glitters, its reflection falls on everything it touches…) But isn’t that Literature and writing? Touching people, drawing similar experiences and making you remember your issues…
    What more does one say? This is a very deep and touching piece – really touching. I was deeply engrossed with the whole piece. If there is one thing I admire in any writing, especially one such is this, it is honesty. Whether this is a true life tale or not, I cannot say, nor do I care. It is simply believable and heart reaching. How did you do it? C’mon, how?
    You have told your story in a way that is hard not to feel. I know a few people who might say there is really no defining moment with several things put but I must say, you got it going. Sure, the piece is long but you made every second of it both entertaining and worth it.
    I visited your blog and saw your work – lots of pictures almost as if you were advertising yourself. Definitely not the scrawny girl no more 
    I am sure glad to have you as a colleague, and I dare add, friend. NS sure has done us a lot of good in producing people like you. Best wishes, S’

    1. Jeez man, if you laid it on a bit thicker I would have burst into tears. Haba.

      This ought to be a post by itself.

      Lol…kidding tho but seriously….

    2. @Sueddie Agema … Thankx for reading and ‘posting’…lol
      Thankx for the useful tips too.

  3. @petunia007 Kai, thank Aondo (God) for your explanation o! I was like ‘What!!’ :) Wouldn’t have been surprised even if it was so sha, Adaobi’s writing especially this one has that effect…she got me, y’know? :)
    Well, Adaobi, when posting, try to see if there is a way that you can make to put a link to your web so that people can click away to it. IF that is not possible, try contacting @admin to see if it can be effected. Once more, well done on all.

  4. Adaobiokwy, this is a beautiful and touching story.I can’t believe the strength you must have had to go through all this.I remember a couple of bullies I had when I was a kid, who were kicking me and taking my dessert at lunch time.I still remember their names and sometimes I wonder what I would say to them if I would see them.But I believe like you do, that this is part of what made me who I am now and I am in peace with it. I have a daughter who is 10 and you made me think about her when you mentioned that you were the second mother.She does play with her little brother and sister and takes care of them when they need help.She is also the second child and oldest girl.
    The part of the story that made me really sad was to read that not only the teachers did not help you but that they hurt you too.There is nothing worse than being let down by people you trust.
    This is a great story about survival. Good work!
    I did bookmark your blog too.

    1. Thank you @Jefsaraurmax
      I am happy that you can relate to the story…and you are right, it is about survival…

  5. My, my, my!*sighs*. If this isn’t a good piece, I wonder what is. I completely agree with @Sueddie, he literally took the words out of my mouth. You have a way with words that is just captivating. Like this one…“I usually get the task of darkening the blackboard after schl hrs too…”. This for me holds a deeper connotation for me beyond the charcoal mix. It reads like you were the “blight” that blackens the board rather than the charcoal which just might as well be given that you were always the butt of the class’ jokes.

    And then you’ve got a dry wit, which is like the apex of humour if it was put to a metre. You’ve got me in stitches over that part where the girls played the game of throwing you in the air. You simply had me ROTFL and before I lost touch with the surreal theme of the piece, or even throw a pity party for you, you shook it off with these words…“I know the ability to read people and events beautifully has made me the writer that I am today…”. You wrote this truthfully without condescension or indignation but yet you got yourself a big fan in me. I’ll be looking out for more from you. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I hope to give more…
      I am really flattered!

  6. Adorable, I felt this more than most would. I saw through the humour and pictured the girl that bore all these.
    I apologise on the world’s behalf.
    I have always known you as a very strong woman.
    You came out better.
    You write extremely well.

    1. Now, this is the part where I shed a few tears….
      Thank you for being… a musketeer juo!

  7. Whao! I love ds…beautifully told wit a flawless delivery.I had bullies in my sch too;even my teachers picked on me…especially my maths teacher,i was so skinny bt beautiful….i escaped by being a tom-boy.I participated in a lot of sporting activities and it made me popular.Soon they started liking me bt bully didn’t stop til i became a prefect.

    1. Glad you stopped by
      Bullying is not pleasant. Glad u didn’t take it

  8. Hmm…this was a very touching piece and raised memories of some bullies from my own childhood. I felt for you because of your lack of adult support at the time too. I’m glad to read that you’re in a better place in your life now.

    My gratitude at been included in a game is one I am yet to forget

    I spotted one typo, that been up there should have been “being’

    1. Yup, Adults were ‘missing’ then
      Thank you for noting that ‘been/being’…gosh, it gets to me!

  9. This is so painfully true and it touched a sore spot in my mind cos I had similar experiences(not until I started growing tall in SS 2).

    You write very well, and I’m not saying this just to inflate your ego.

    Well done!!!

  10. “I know that happy people do not have the conscience to hurt others and this brings a certain consolation to my heart.”
    I can very well relate to this and your writing reflects that nature. Great inspiring piece…at least for me to be up at 2am reading it.

    Thumbs up Adaobi.

    1. Thank you!
      Hope you are well rested now?

  11. Em…I honestly don’t know what to say. Far as my reality is concerned…this is a commonplace story. Not to take anything away from it, I just feel like yeah; it happens. Deal with it.

    Trust me; I was an ‘ugly duckling’ growing up too (though you wouldn’t believe it if you meet me)…I was bullied about my size..tastes and ideas so I’m not trying to undermine your experiences. understand?

    This world shapes us into whatever we want to allow it shape us into.

    I do appreciate and respect the fact that you came out of it better and stronger…not to mention ‘beautiful-er’.


    1. Commonplace, I can accept that
      Deal with it? nope. we shouldn’t be asked to shelve our problems but to deal with them!

      Yes, I am better than all that now but, in today’s world…kids commit suicide and all that. We should speak against cruelties everywhere we find them
      Glad u can understand that though.

  12. I felt every bit of this… Maybe we wore the same shoes buh different sizes. Writing eased me buh I’ve never really liked reading so dats where mine is different. Plus I wasn’t really bullied but kinda rejected. “Are they the same?”. You write good.

    1. same…lol
      Thanx 4 stopping by!

  13. You did not tell how you became brilliant enough to represent your school, though you had issues with answering questions in class. I also could not relate the paragraph where you went home to mummy for a change of name to why you did not win the quiz.

    1. Even if u schooled in paradise @larazworld , we all still know brilliant students in our midst even if they do not talk…
      as for relating my change of name to quiz, i believe they are clear enough and besides, I did not write to relate paragraphs, I wrote my TRUE STORY!

  14. I think you left out some key information that could have made the story fulfil the goal you set in the first paragraph. I however admire that beyond the fire, you came out as you think yam was termed local? I know some rich kids who left rice for yam and red oil o.

    1. I do not think that there’s anything ‘key’ which I left behind @larazworld… again, “TRUE STORY” not some random moonlight tale…
      And in that paradise school where I am thinking you schooled, kids there preferred yam to rice? Interesting! please where is that school?
      If you are talking like an adult…could you wear a different spec and read like a primary school child? Thank you.

  15. I feel U… I really do… I know what U went through; not as severe as this, but still…
    Glad to know the ‘ugly duckling’ is now a beautiful princess. U sure are one strong woman.

  16. @adaobokwy: Waoh! I find your reply quite educative and impressive.I also took to your advice on the spectacles, they did me well.
    I have been bullied intensely too and I relate with your experiences,but I do believe that what you experienced was quite deeper than the piece.(I may be wrong)
    My comment might not be a popular opinion,take a good look at it later though, stop digging in your claws. we are all here to learn shey?

    1. You may be wrong?
      My claws? Be rest assured that if I had plans of digging them in, it would really hurt…we’re here to learn…right.

  17. @larazworld. Write your own and make it as deep as you like.
    What exactly ά̲̣яε you trying to teach?
    Don’t spoil the post juo

Leave a Reply