N**, take off your skirt!
I managed to keep those words from slipping out because it occurred to me that N** was not wearing shorts under her skirt, of course. (rolls eyes) No self-respecting girl would go to school without wearing shorts under her skirt. I see some of your eyes widening in disbelief. No, I’m not kidding.
The co-ed Primary/Elementary School I attended? Naughty boys around? Check. Naughty boys who would try to pull up your skirt because they thought it was a FUN way to show that they like you? Check, check. Naughty boys who pulled up your skirt, and proceeded to run back to their pals, announcing the colour/design of your underwear, and insisting that losers pay up (in whatever happened to be the currency/trophy of the moment)? Check, check, check.
People have the capacity for learning. Girls learnt to band together and retaliate. Also, it doesn’t take a genius to know that wearing shorts under your skirt/pinafore can prevent all the above from happening. Better yet, we learnt that having this kind of ‘protection’ allowed us to stomp our feet into boys’ faces if they tried the tactics mentioned above. Growing up, I learnt that I came from a ‘violent’ school. Hahaha…
Secondary/Junior High School was an all-girls school. It was a place that cultivated independence, perseverance, teamwork, and sheer grit. No boys around to help us clear the ginormous canteen of the tables and benches for a grand event? No problem! Roll up your (imaginary) sleeves, undo your skirt so that you are in shorts (see, some things never change), and get your friends to help. Better yet, have a competition to see who is faster/stronger so that the daunting task seems, well, less daunting.
Coming back to why I wanted N** to take off her skirt. This happened during my Junior College/Senior High School days. Long story…so I’ll summarise. It was a half-day. School invited speaker to address the students AFTER official school hours. Students grumbled. School locked the main gates to keep students in. Well, you know some girls just can’t stand to be restricted. In any way. Really, if they didn’t lock the gates, I might have just grumbled. As it was, watching the gates being locked from afar just sent the simmering rebellion inside me into a roaring blaze. Yes, I’m rebellious, and probably will be until I meet my Maker.
Side gate. Locked. And too conspicuous.
Back gate. Locked as well. What’s a girl to do? Climb over the fence? Seriously considered the notion, but barbed wire ran along the top. So I thought to throw my skirt over the wire, so that there would be some semblance of protection. If N** could provide her skirt as well, we could cover a greater surface area, or have 2 layers for better protection. No such luck.
L*, there’s a hole in the fence!
N** called out after a while.
She spotted it while I was looking at the fence and contemplating how to get over it. Hah! That’s the problem with me. I always ‘aim high’. If I could choose to look at the sky or ground, I always choose the sky. Only on rainy days do I keep my eyes doggedly on the ground…so that I don’t step on snails. It’s just extremely sad, I think. A crushed snail. ‘Home’ and life, lost at the same time. Silly old me, but well…
Inner dialogue: Great. We have to CRAWL out?! I so DO NOT want that. So…undignified. Urgh!
But I knew there was no other choice if we were to escape from the…’establishment’. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Fast forward to the present. Rebellious? Hell, yes! I could never stay still for long. Physically, yes. Mentally…over my dead body. In all lifetimes, if you believe in the idea of more than one lifetime.
There is a greater…something. Out there. Maybe there really isn’t. But I’d rather believe there is. A better tomorrow for, not only Mankind, not only Earth. The universe? Maybe even beyond? The only regret is not being able to see and be a part of everything to the end. Not being able to learn all there is to learn.
Nami from the anime ‘One Piece’ said this. It’s something worth remembering.
A reminder to myself, and this written without anger, without resentment.
Slowly picking up the pieces and finding the route home.