Here’s the story of how I stood up to bullies, and eventually became friends with them!
In the U.K. you go to secondary school from the ages of 11 to 16. After that, you do A levels which can be completed at the same school. In my instance, A levels took place across 2 different schools.
20 years ago, I started school at a place called Evelyn’s Secondary School. From 1997 to 1999 it was in the bottom percentile of the nation. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best place to be for an education.
Besides the poor performance of the school, I was bullied during my entire time there. It made for a few rough years.
Being Different and Being Bullied
Evelyn’s Secondary School was a predominately white working class school and I was this super tall, skinny, Indian kid. At this age, I was already sporting a mini mustache above my upper lip and learning my way around the world. It set me apart from the rest– I was simply different.
First Day of School
I have some poignant memories of my first day at school.
One that really stands out to me is this random kid demanding my lunch money and threatening to punch me if I didn’t hand it over.
Of course, I handed over my money without saying a word and, honestly, I can say that I felt a bit of innocence lost because this was not something I was used to in the world.
I wasn’t used to people being mean.
I soon recognized that Evelyn was a place where I was going to struggle.
By the time I reached year 9 I particularly dreaded the changing rooms in P.E. where I was constantly made fun of.
Rise to Bullying
The school had a strange set up in that year 7 all the way through year 11 were placed in the same classroom when you registered. This isn’t a practice I insist is continued because it gave rise to kids being bullied. In my case, it was these 4 brothers across years 7, 8, 9, and 10 that constantly picked on me.
Dealing with the Brothers
There was this one particular day when the brothers told me they like to practice “play fighting”. The next thing I knew they were circled around me and punching me harder and harder.
The next thing I know they are circled around me and punching me harder and harder.
The attack had come out of nowhere and I remember punching back was awkward for me.
I tried to punch back harder because I felt I needed to defend myself– It was to no avail. They jeered and kept punching. I was just at that stage in my life where I was an easy target, plain and simple.
After that, I did my best to avoid the brothers at all costs.
Outcome of the Fight
Fast forward to 1999: it was during lunchtime when I was talking with another classmate and the brother that was in my year said something to me and as an instant reaction, I shouted, “Come on then, let’s fight!”
At this point, I honestly had no intention of backing my words up. A brief moment of shock registered on the brother’s face. The moment of shock was followed by a punch that instantly knocked me to the floor. I ran after the first punch was landed and remember sitting in history class, struggling, trying not to break down into tears because of what had happened.
Shortly after the incident, I had been offered a place to move to Bishop’s Holt, which could have put an end to the torment.
I said no to the offer…
Moving to Bishop’s
I went home for the weekend and realised I was dreading going back to school. Of course, wondered if I made a mistake by not taking the place at a new school.
I returned to school the following Monday and went straight to see Mrs. King, who was in charge of the submissions at Bishop’s. I told her I wanted to take the place if it was still open.
After being on the waiting list for the school since year 7 I got the place in March of ‘99 and made the move.
Adjusting to a New School
When I made the move to Bishops, I faced new challenges that come with being 14 years old.
Since I was new to the school, I found myself in a place where people had already established their social circles.
I was appointed a KYE (a fellow student who is meant to show you the ropes) when I entered the school on my first day– he wanted no part of it and generally just made fun of me.
It was a pretty lonely place until I made friends with a kid named Tom Parriman, who is still a friend of mine to this day. It was brilliant because I didn’t really have any friends while I was there and I took to hanging out with Tom and some of the people that he knew.
I’m not sure how much I was liked but I was definitely tolerated.
The Uneasy Place
I eventually found what you would call my uneasy place. It was amongst the madness of the Bishop’s Holt bullies.
Gone were the days of being bullied; I was now one of the bullies. Not to mention, I was the only Indian kid amongst them.
Now that I Think About it…
It was such a weird and interesting time in my childhood that I look back on these memories and think, “Well, no wonder I got into counseling”.