Saturday, 3 October 2009

Auctore Deo - A Fragment... (IV)

January 2000
L___ Senior was unabashed enough to make it obvious that he hated me, since my cross-country running abilities did not meet his standards. Therefore, it was hard not to wonder if he invited the slippery product of his ejaculation to continue his work beyond the framework of Games hour.
My companions found it comical that Andrew L___ didn’t remotely resemble his father in hue or form. Whilst L___ Senior radiated with male egotism from every sharply chiselled corner, L___ Junior had the exterior of a starved beaver and the giggle of a five year old girl. With his yellowish hide, some were convinced that Andrew was his father’s love-child.
The only two qualities they seemed to share were an intense fetish for cross-country running, and the same brutal pleasure in using their eminence to crush others beneath the studs of their finely polished rugby boots.
In a lamentably weak parody of teen movie archetypes, Andrew had an extensive entourage in the year below who were sheltered by the guarantee of immediate protection from prosecution due to his father’s place among the staff - and the amount of sport-related awards carrying his name that adorned the trophy case strategically placed outside the lunch hall where every governer and potential parent could not avoid having it thrust under their noses.
The members of his circle were just as bland and soulless as he himself, though he had two in particular who could have been considered his lieutenants. Alex S_____, a rake-like object with pasty skin, ginger hair and a snub-nose that seemed to tilt even further skyward with every sneer of satisfaction that flashed across his face. The second was a rat-faced individual whose name I never learnt, but who merited a second glance only because it appeared as if an internal disease were slowly eroding his features from within.
History has exemplified that those with power - the loudest voices and most venomous tongues – use this privilege to mask their shame. Andrew appeared to have no cause for shame. He did it because he could, and nothing more. I have no doubt he exercised this privilege over countless students throughout the school. I was merely one statistic. I was going to say that he made use of his father's power in such a way that he could escape blame every time - but he wasn't clever enough for that. It was simply in place from the beginning; he didn't have to work for it at all. His father did it all for him. It is one of those things about the world I will never be able to understand - why vile bullies end up in positions of power, and maintain it even the majority can see them for who they really are.

My tormentors each selected a fragment of my appearance and character which they perceived worthy of ridicule, and took it upon themselves to remind me of it each day, perhaps under the impression that enough prompting would uproot that weed and in turn make me eligible for adequate society. For L___ and company, it was my skin.
I knew of Ch_____, and I also knew that certain others believed we were related. This assumption was based on nothing more than the fact we shared a similar skin tone. Being assumed to hail from Pakistain and to carry the name Mohammed was not an alien concept to me, but I saw no point in correcting those who crafted my identity as 'Indian Stan'. To such people, any person a single shade darker than white was a paki - and every single person under that category came of the same stock. And even if I had told them that I was in fact a quarter Burmese - and three quarters British - they would have only assumed that Burma were a mythic extension of India that they hadn't heard of, just as heavily scented with curry powder as every other Asian country.

At first, being told that I resembled Ch_____ did not concern me. But Andrew deemed it necessary to tell me so every time I had the misfortune of him invading my presence (I went to extreme lengths to avoid his). It didn’t matter when or where. He told me in the corridor. He told me in the lunch hall. He told me before concerts. He told me at prize giving ceremonies. He told me in the presence of teachers. He must have alloted a five minute appointment in his crowded schedule each day - when not away winning sports trophies or reporting to his father -
to seek me out and impart his casual observation to me. And from the womanly squeal of delight he ejaculated as he swaggered back to the safety of his lackeys, I knew this wasn’t simply a casual observation.
I’d be told before that I resembled other people. It hadn’t merited any more than a single mention. But something about this particular case was giving Andrew L___ orgasmic pleasure. It was as if he did it to satisfy an urge within him that he couldn’t contain. Or he was determined to stamp it permanently into my brain as something to be ashamed of.
I frequently saw them gathered in a group, the rat-faced one stabbing a carrot-like finger in my direction and clearly mouthing the words “Don’t that kid look like Dave?” as the others nodded and gurgled in agreement.
Then they took to calling me 'David's brother'. Again, it didn't matter where I was - Andrew took every opporunity within his grasp to remind me of my supposed heritage, even though he knew my 'brother' and I carried different surnames.

Then my physics teacher began calling me ‘David’, and my patience expired.
Being labelled with someone else’s identity made me feel as if my own had been torn away. My individuality had been snatched while I wasn’t looking, stamped to dust beneath Andrew L___’s perfectly polished rugby boots. I began to resent Ch_____. He had stolen my identity, leaving me nothing but a severed shadow.
The truth of the matter was far simpler.
One morning as I stood in the playground talking to A______ and C_____ before registration, L___ and his cronies sidled up and began their usual song about how much I resembled their classmate.
A______ asked them – “Who’s David Ch_____?”
L___ slithered away, tingling with anticipation at the thought of his approaching stunt, and returned moments later dragging behind him a small, thin Indian boy.
“This is Ch_____”, he declared, no longer able to contain his delight.
It wasn’t Ch_____. His skin was several shades darker than either of ours put together. But the suggestion was clear as day, and Andrew and his friends sailed away rooting with heartless laughter.
It didn’t help that, at the time, I was experiencing insecurities about the colour of my skin, believing that being just a shade darker than white made me subhuman, placed on the earth only for my peers to make the subject of jokes about terrorism and curry.
A______ thought it ironic that L___ was making fun of my skin colour.
Perhaps he was insecure – about his own.
The thought of sharing the Sixth Form block with Andrew L___ was one of many that made my blood run cold, and shattered any whimsical optimism over the benefits of remaining at the school to undertake A-Level studies. I was certain that his poisonous spite and organism gurgling would become intolerable if I had to share the same quarters with him for a whole year. There had been, at least, some separation from him while in the lower school.
My expectation was not met, for he never spoke a word to me once he - flanked by his cheerleaders - sailed into the Lower Sixth without a hitch in my final year. But it came as a surprise to no one when he and his sister were bestowed with prefect privileges for reasons that do not require elaboration.