Have you ever wished you had more courage to stand up to people who hated your guts? Well, I have. It all started when I was moved to a different section in 11th grade. Being an introvert, it was difficult for me to gel with my fellow classmates because they were all new faces to me. Yes, we had been studying in the same school for years, but I was always in a different world, lost in my own thoughts.
Gradually and fortunately, I made some amazing friends in my class. I felt like I finally belonged there, I started looking forward to mornings as I’d get up to go to school and meet them. But you can’t be friends with everybody you know, can you? There was this group of guys in class who was detested by people of my kind. You would expect a bunch of 16-year-olds to act their age and be a bit mature. Sadly, not everybody thought like me, nor did they agree with me. Whenever I expressed my disapproval of these guys in front of my friends, they would ask me to chill and forget about them.
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But forgetting about them wasn’t easy when one of the members of the group was hell-bent on ruining my mood and irritating me for reasons unknown. I don’t know why and how it happened, but one fine day a guy named Devang from that group full of incorrigible fellows decided to make my school life a living hell. I was this plump, timid and shy girl who minded her own business and talked to very few people. Maybe that’s what made me an easy target. I was made fun of because I was fat, and how my legs weren’t waxed or how tomboyish I was. Talk about being “mature”!
I waved it off once, twice, thrice and a million more times, but did I feel angry? Obviously! I’m one of those people who gets irritated quite easily and the mindless comments these guys passed used to get on my nerves like nothing else. But I decided to be the mature one and behave as if it never happened. I used to pretend that I never even heard them. After a while, it seemed like I got used to it, which is even worse than not reacting, I reckon. I got used to them calling me fat, ugly and a girl who was good-for-nothing; I was even fine when they abused me - actually, it was more like I pretended to be. I did once shout at them to stop all this nonsense, but in vain.
It was 12th grade and our pre-boards were around the corner. Everybody was busy wrapping up their syllabus and preparing for their final projects. One day, I was sitting in the computer lab, working on my project, when I was called by my teacher. She told me that Devang was working on the same project, so one of us would have to change the direction of our work. He must have heard it when he came to me and said that he wasn’t going to change his codes. I was livid! He submitted the blueprint of the project ages after the deadline, and I was the one who was being asked to change her project? I decided I wasn’t going to back down.
We were asked by our teacher to sort this out between ourselves. How was I supposed to talk to a guy who loved to make fun of me? I tried to reason with him, but I could see an annoying smirk forming on his face. I felt like slapping him. He was having the time of his life, seeing me exasperated and desperate.
I told him how stupid and childish he was, and with each word, the tone of my voice was getting louder as I was getting more and more annoyed. I was thankful that only a few of my classmates were in the lab and no one else, otherwise I’d have gotten into trouble. We were arguing at the top of our voices and my friends tried to calm me down. But I was beyond angry. Somewhere in the middle of that argument, Devang called me a “whore”. It happened all of a sudden, and by the time I realized, it had already happened - I had punched him in the face.
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I still remember the amount of anger I had within me when my fist landed on his face. My body had started to shake with my anger and it felt like all the energy I had in my body had gone into that punch, because his nose was bleeding. I calmed down after I hit him. And then I ran to the girl’s washroom and cried like a baby.
Devang didn’t report this to anybody in school because he knew he would be in trouble too, as I had a long list of things he had said to me over the last one and a half years.
The 16-year-old me is glad that I punched that guy and stood up to my bully, who never said a word to me after that day. But now when I come to think of it, I wasn’t very bright myself. I should have stopped him when he started bullying me and shouldn’t have let my anger escalate. But what’s done is done. He learnt a lesson that day, as did I. Never to take crap from anybody and stand up for myself.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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