I just woke from a dream. Well, maybe something just a tad below a nightmare, in which I found myself repeating a class in secondary school. It would appear that I’d failed the class because I failed mathematics or further mathematics. So, I was in class, and this bully sitting beside me wouldn’t let me be. Apparently, he’d been bullying me in other forms that by the time he put his legs on my laps while I was trying to pay attention to what the teacher was saying, I’d had enough and politely told him to stop, to allow me write my notes so I don’t fail again. I came to, about the time the bully, who was much bigger than I was, started approaching me
to inflict on me the beat-down of my life.
Yesterday morning, I’d decided to go to work later than usual to avoid the huge traffic that follows the rush hours. Interestingly, I got to the bus stop to find that there were still more than the usual amount of would-be commuters waiting for buses to come and convey them to their workplaces. Eventually, when a bus eventually appeared and the people rushed to board it, I waited patiently to go in after them. It was at this point that some young man touched me just by my pocket, which had my 1-terabyte hard drive, with which I intended to copy the video of a surgical procedure at work. I asked the man, who was standing with his friend, why he had to start his rushing with people like me at the back, who weren’t interested in rushing just to board a bus, when he could have joined the fray right before us both. The guy began to throw a tantrum, cursing and insulting me, then drawing the attention of everyone around to the fact that I’d accused him of trying to rob me, imploring them to ask me what I had that I think he’d want to rob in the first place. Sadly for him, his mannerisms, cursing and swearing, while I kept quiet and eventually got the last seat in the bus, made him out to be what he was claiming he wasn’t.
Throughout the period he ranted, I simply kept quiet and didn’t respond to him, having attended and watched several anger management classes, enough to know how to de-escalate such situations. However, when a female passenger behind me, asked me to apologize to the man, I found my voice, and told everyone what had happened, and by the time the driver revved his engine, passengers who hitherto kept quiet while the man was stirring his tempest in a teacup, began relating their experiences with pick-pockets, even in that particular area, at which point I simply blocked my ears and was listening to music from my phone, and checking my Facebook page and Twitter handles.
All my life, I’d battled bullies. I’d say my life was formed by bullies. In primary one, my bully was a girl and my seat mate. I’d present to her daily, my eggs and my pencil, which wasn’t always a guaranty that I’d be spared some smacking on the day, then go home to another round of flogging (when it was still an acceptable way to raise a child) on the days I couldn’t manage to pick another pencil left behind by other students in empty classes, after school. Interestingly, by the second term she stopped coming, after we were informed at the assembly one morning that her father had died. In my innocent mind, I was glad. But my days of been bullied were far from over, because she was replaced by Daniel who was bigger, maybe even bigger for his class, but when Leke (who was my size, but brooked no nonsense) my friend and neighbour was around, Daniel couldn’t and wouldn’t perfect his devices on me. When Daniel repeated primary one, and I proceeded to primary two, his yoke on me was lifted.
I had other bullies but none stuck as hard as the aforementioned because Leke was always there throughout my primary school days. The security he provided for me by been my friend, saw me loving school once more, and my mum didn’t have to need the help of Bàbá Kékeré, our landlord’s brother, who though was old, always mustered enough power when it came to giving me the lashes that ensured that not only did I go to school, which was on the same street as where we lived, but that I stayed in it till closing hour. Now that I think about it, it must’ve been a mix of the protection that Leke provided, and the fear of Bàbá Kékeré’s “ikàn” or “pankéré” that ensured that not only did I go to school, and most times aced as excelled academically, but also that I got to become Senior Prefect in Primary 5, even though I was one of the shortest guys in primary school. I also had the best result in Common Entrance and G2 examinations, a trend that followed me, even to secondary school.
In secondary school, Leke had moved with his family away from where we lived to his mum had a house, so far away that the next time I’d see Leke again would be at the University, where we both attended in different faculties, and different campuses. Gideon was my bully in my first and second year. He was the first bully I stood up to (for insulting my mother), and got the beating of my life. Again his yoke was removed from me when he repeated the first year twice and had to be withdrawn, I saw him last year leading his gang to a party in my area during the Muslim salah celebrations, indeed I confirmed from people around that it was him, and he’d become the No. 1 of the cult group in the area not so far from my former place of abode.
After Gideon I had no other bullies in secondary school, in fact I picked on Chika, and some other guy to bully on, and whilst I was successful with Chika, The other guy was like the Roadrunner, and I’d got myself wounded severally trying to catch him. By the time I was in the university I’d become somewhat un-bully-able, not because I’d become so big in stature, or that I’d learnt to fight (which I’d tried, not by going for fight lessons, but by watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies which I thought would bail me in my epic fight against Gideon, to my chagrin), but in building myself in other non- physical ways. While other boys could attract girls because of the words, size and stature or money, I did same and easily for that matter because of my brilliance. So, from early in my secondary school days (even from late primary school days with Hauwa Umaru and Yakaka Usman), I had girlfriends, or better still worked and walked with girls, even though nothing further than that happened (in the early days), but it helped with self esteem, bragging rights, and most importantly kept bullies at bay. In fact I became also, a snub. I didn’t need to join any group, people had to join me, and I always, as now, kept my inner circle small, and in my estimation, exclusive.
For me to have dreamt about bullying, hours after someone attempted it once again on me, after years of cocooning myself in the safety bubble that I’d created for myself all these years must mean that I still have issues with bullying, and indeed I do. One of the things I developed over the years was the use of language to defeat my opponent, I’d out-talk them, and out-write them. At the dawn of social media, I now can’t even remember the number of Twitter and Facebook fights and battles I’d so far engaged in, and physically I could so talk down on anyone that engaged me that they’d become too weak to raise a finger at me, to so much success. But I also found that I was a very angry person who destroyed things and injured myself severally when angry, so I attended informal anger classes, watched YouTube videos, read motivational literature to arrive at the man I was yesterday morning, still learning and getting better with managing my emotions.
I am now patient, hardwired and unresponsive to jabs and yaps, also more particular about the bigger picture, though bullying hadn’t stopped, even from subordinates, including those whose paths I could alter by a mere unfavourable recommendation. I am happy that I hadn’t allowed bullying, or my earlier reaction to it to get the better of me, especially in terms of revenge, for I tell you the death of Charity’s (yea, that was her name) dad, wasn’t the first time I was happy that something untoward happened to my bully, as the likes (not necessarily death o) continued to happen to those who bullied me, that at some point I felt I had some supernatural powers. It is true that I haven’t learnt to forget slights, but I’ve stopped seeking ways to harm those who hurt me (like paying special attention in Pharmacology classes when drugs with harmful physical and psychological effects and side-effects were up for a mention while in med school), I have also learnt to forgive, and no longer got highs from patiently waiting for my bullies to fail, fall or falter. I have written this to showcase how deep bullying can get, and why we must do everything we can to put an end to it, especially for kids. Parents shouldn’t encourage their children or wards who are bullies, and those bullied should be helped and saved from their tormentors, by discouraging the environment that allows bullies to thrive. There are certain aspects of reactions by victims of bullying that have created monsters in our society today, that wouldn’t have been had those bullied gotten help when they screamed in silence.
Published by m'khail madukovich