I had a fairly normal life for the first ten years of my life. I was a ranking student in school and my best friend was the most popular girl of my class .I was the teacher’s pet and belonged to the “in” gang . Life was fine and then it changed all of a sudden.
You see , the bullying started for no apparent reason. One day , this clever ,clever person called me Kirukithikaa , a play on my name with the snide interjection that seemed to indicate that I had lost my marbles . This nickname caught on. Teachers and students alike, used this version of my name without realizing that their action was shattering my self-esteem to smithereens .
My dental braces with their inter arch rubber bands brought on a bout of “she is so unclean that chewing gum sticks between her teeth” or “open your mouth ha ha ha ” jokes , that lasted through the year. The next year it was about my plaits .The year after that , it was about my body hair and the following year it was about something else . It was about my loud voice , my nature to raise my hand and ask a question when the teacher was bull shitting or when I couldn’t understand what was being said. It was also about my fluency in English . The bullying was not limited to my class. These cruel, cutting jokes first spread to my seniors who started using them and later to peers from different schools. Soon the neighborhood kids caught wind of these jokes and the taunting started within my apartment complex. The bullying was not limited to kids . The woman who was my tuition teacher called me aside and said ” Un Koral Bajaari maari irukku . Unga Ammava paathu sirikkara maari thaan unna paathu sirippanga”. I stopped going to her classes from that point on.
Things at home were not much better either and I constantly felt that I was fighting a battle that I could never win. Everywhere I went , the bullying followed . Every single thing I did to prevent bullying caused more of it. I tried open confrontation but they had strength in numbers . I tried staying low on the radar but they always sought me out. I tried making new friends – it didn’t work. The newbies always realized that the popular gang had numbers and would join in with the bullying chorus. I was isolated and friendless. A well-meaning senior asked me to change myself to fit in. I tried and it failed miserably. Every time I tried changing myself to fit in , the chorus would find another thing to bully me about. One day I contemplated suicide . After a disastrous day at school , I locked myself inside the bathroom and thought to end it all . The moment passed and I realized that I loved my life and I wanted to complete the journey I set out on.
I stopped changing myself and put up with the bullying . I found solace in books and music . I discovered creativity on the internet . I vented out by writing harry potter fan fiction. Meanwhile things did not improve for me at school and elsewhere. Books were my best friends and Heathcliff , Blakeney and Pip were buddies. My academics continued to take a hit and my self-image issues kept burgeoning. I graduated school in 2004 friendless and rudderless. But I was determined to go on. College was a little bit better. Some of my bullies became buddies – the sort that would SMS me for a copy of the class assignment but would never acknowledge me in public. I helped them when I could and made them squirm when I got a chance. I graduated college , found a job and made a few friends that I would cherish for a lifetime.
I survived but with scars. I have body image issues. I have confidence issues. I still abhor the word Loosu. I still cannot stand certain jokes thanks to the bullying that happened in the past. But what matters is that I survived and this survival has made me a stronger person, a better person.
What happened to my bullies you ask? Well, most of them have had wonderful career graphs and are leading charmed lives. They are post doctoral scholars , Google engineers , Facebook tech wizards and the like. Two of them are my good friends now – their awkward apologies to me not withstanding.
I feel that the only way to confront bullying is by continuing to live and live well. You will have battle scars and the scars will take decades to heal. But you will live to tell the tale and that is the only thing that matters .
P.S. Please please stop by https://www.stopbullying.gov and spare a thought for those kids that were bullied in your class or neighborhood. Please educate and enlighthen the next generation on how bullying can affect a person.