The Lemons You Gave Me

I’m not a fraud but when I saw the door opened, and it was the only door to my salvation, I wasn’t going to let it slam in my face. So I took it, as you would. This was high school boarding house. Think about every cruel thing, I’d been served a piece of it: unfair punishments, stupid labour, being ponded with water and slaps in my sleep, destruction of my aluminum trunk, seniors taking away my pillow and blankets on cold harmattan nights, stealing of my money, my clothes and my only shoe, being locked up in a chop box, kneeling down from night till daybreak like a prisoner of war. Everything. You name it. I’d done it all.

So on that uneventful Sunday, when my pathetic self had been punished to kneel down fully naked in the dormitory for no awful reason, I had no idea that that second year guy who had been tormenting me before lunch will come and try to choke me from behind, not caring that I was losing breath. I had no idea I was going to pull off a karate stunt on him, well that’s what everybody said I did. I had no idea I would really injure his leg. I had no idea that that injury would cause him to be hospitalized and miss the rest of the term. I had no idea his mates will tell all the girls that a first year “nino” with special karate skills had almost crippled him. I had no idea I would be taken around classes to demonstrate my incomparable karate skills. I had no idea that I would become a mini-legend, revered by those who were not sure they could take me on, and abhorred by those who felt I was just an opportunistic piece of shit. I had no idea it would follow me for the rest of my life.

So I had an idea. Tell them the truth. Why don’t I tell them that besides my childhood Bruce Lee addiction and a little messing around with stunts from “Mahaguru”, I was not that special after all? I should tell them that I was then only a little boy, who came for an education, but got more than he had bargained for, that I had cried endlessly at night from self-pity and broken despair, that I was afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid of what someone’s twisted imagination will push them to do to me in my sleep, that at times, I feared for my life. I should tell them now that I was just lucky on that day that move worked, in that moment, on that guy. That I rode on the cloud they gave me because I was not ready to go back to being everybody’s bully object.

Look at me now. I made it out of that misery because I lied. I lied because that was all you gave me.

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