Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crab Mentality (Part 12)

June 8, 2010 (12pm)
                “Well,” John said, calling everyone’s attention back to him. He made a handsome grin, and said, “That’s all.”
                He walked back to his desk in Row 3, as his friends from each row led the applause. “We don’t want students from 4th Project Town. They cause big trouble,” the other students shouted. They began pointing at Chalano.
                “Back to the lesson, class,” the teacher called as she stood up and walked to the blackboard. Good. That got their attention from the poor Chalano.
                The teacher wrote a long article on the blackboard for the students to copy to their notebooks. The whole class was quiet again as the students got busy with writing, but Chalano couldn’t focus. What was John saying? That they started the fight? How could that be? It was John who started the fight. How did we end up being the troublemakers? We weren’t doing anything bad to him. He was teasing Kim about Kim’s family. Then he began to taunt me. Whatever made everyone think that we were the troublemakers?! Did that mean that we shouldn’t have defended ourselves ONLY because he was the leader here? Chalano’s jaw was tightening with anger. He wanted to scream at Row 3, Hey! If we were the real troublemakers, who’s starting the trouble this time? The class was so quiet and peaceful, then you go around bringing up such an unreasonable topic?! What did we do wrong? Chalano really wanted to scream at John, but he would look silly suddenly starting a fight in the middle of a quiet class. I should’ve talked back while he was doing his speech there at the blackboard. These thoughts kept repeating in Chalano’s head as 12pm turned into 1pm, 1pm turned into 2pm, and so on.

                The school bell. Finally. Chalano stood up, and quickly put his school stuff into his backpack. He hurried out of the classroom before Kim could catch up with him. He just didn’t feel like he would be able to stand Kim’s unstoppable noise today. He walked to the back of the auditorium, which led to the parking lot.
John’s father allowed him to borrow his car, and John always parked the car near the auditorium. Chalano waited. After more than 30 minutes, John came with three of his friends. He ignored Chalano, and walked to his black Kia Piccanto. Chalano approached John before John got into the car. He’d never voluntarily speak to John  before, but he wasn’t nervous because he was very angry. He tried to calm down to keep himself from just attacking John, “What were you saying at the classroom? We didn’t start the fight. We were not the troublemakers. We didn’t even know that  you were there.”
                John turned to him, and tilted his head. Chalano couldn’t figure out whether or not John was angry, because the twinkle in his huge, brown eyes was still there. John tilted his head to an abnormal angle, and raised his thick eyebrows as he said in a sing-song tone, “Are you saying that I was the troublemaker ….?”
                “If that was what happened, just accept it. The class wouldn’t have known about the incident if you hadn’t announced it.”
                John grinned to himself, and turned to open the door of his car. He just took a small, black pillow from inside, and then he closed the door. “Let’s go under the shade,” he calmly said, pointing to the back of the auditorium. He and Chalano walked to the shade, and his three friends accompanied them. Once there, John said, “Are you hinting that you will tell everyone that ‘John started the fight,’ ‘John was the real troublemaker’? Are you hinting that you will be the beginning of rebellion against me?”
                It was so quick. John placed the  pillow on Chalano’s abdomen, and punched it. The impact and the pain shocked Chalano. Then he regained his focus and charged at John. John’s two friends grabbed Chalano, and pinned him against the wall. John placed the pillow on Chalano’s abdomen again. The punches were fast. Chalano closed his eyes in pain. He couldn’t keep himself from screaming, “No more!” He was about to scream for help when Johns’s third companion covered his mouth with one hand.
                The twinkle in John’s eyes had turned into a glisten. He stopped beating Chalano up. His thick lips tightened as he said, “Maybe you know now that you should never disagree with the leader.  You should never forget that you are in my town, and not in your town. You should never talk back, and you should never fight back. Deal?”
                Chalano didn’t really agree. John hit him once more, and asked again, “Deal?”
                Chalano stared up at John. He tried to remain as defiant as he used to be, but he felt like a loser. “Deal.”
                John made a lop-sided grin as he saw the will to disagree fade from Chalano’s eyes. Chalano looked weak. Scared. John left him, telling his friends, “Stay away from the CCTV.”
                They left. Chalano collapsed to the floor. He’d never been beaten up before. He felt so weak and helpless. He wanted to get back to his mother. He wanted to go home.

                “Hey! What are you doing there?”
                “Chalano? Chalano? Chalano! What happened to you?”
                “I’ve been at the canteen. I was waiting for you to go out of the gate so that I could come along,” Kim explained as he held Chalano’s shoulders and pulled him to a sitting position. Chalano’s body seemed so limp. “It’s already 4 in the afternoon.  Your mother would be waiting for you …. Hey, are you alright?”
                Kim held his friend’s chin, and looked at the boy’s unfocused eyes. “Hey. Hey. What happened here?”
                Chalano grunted. Kim was beginning to get alarmed. “Something’s wrong,” he warily looked around them. There was no one in sight. The place felt so gloomy. He looked at Chalano’s messy uniform, and how Chalano leaned in such an abnormal position. “Did somebody hurt you ….?”
                “He placed a pillow on me, and started beating me up.”
                “That’s what is done to keep from leaving any mark on the victim, so you wouldn’t be able to report him,” Kim thought aloud. “Who is he?”
                “I wanna go home,” Chalano retorted, and suddenly stood up to leave. But he swayed, and fell back on the ground.
                “Okay, as long as you promise that you’ll tell me what happened,” Kim said as he wrapped Chalano’s left arm around his shoulders, and led him out of the shade. “You shouldn’t have gone here alone.  You already knew that John had started some mob mentality among our classmates to bully us. You shouldn’t have gone to where the school didn’t have a security camera.”
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