"The Outcast Wouldn't Forgive Me"
Written by Mariam D. Mababaya (at age 16, now 17)
On Wednesday, July 23, 2003
It was in eighth grade when I moved to a new private school from a public one and it was that year (year 2000-2001) when I experienced recognition for the very first time. I hang out with the most popular girl at school and for some reason I turned out to be her best friend. We were always together as a friendly pair, pleasantly inseparable. She was the rowdy tomboy who talked about almost anything that came into her mind; she was the one who pushed me into doing things I've never done before. She had transformed a once shy and meek nerd into a conceited make-up freak. Nowadays we hardly phone each other unlike last time when we used to be classmates. I had moved once again to another school, another private school where life was, every second of the day, becoming worse. Without her I became the school's worst outsider, the girl whom every single kid was forced to shun like I was something noxious.
That best friend of mine's was Sheila, two feet taller than I and awfully boyish. Although we studied in different schools we did phone each other every other day. But it was my fault that our friendship had come to an end…or hers. We were having a quarrel on the phone about some Russian singers called Tattoo (I think that's what they're called) and after her phone call the other day I told her I was too busy to talk to her so she hung up on me. As a matter of fact, I was terribly busy studying for my finals. It would've been a waste of time if we went on talking about garbage. I remember her calling me at twelve midnight and she went on and on chatting about who-knows-what while I sat there on my bed listening to every word she uttered. To tell you the truth, we were chatting for almost five hours and the line would several times get disconnected. Ending our lengthy chat at four thirty in the morning and getting up at nine, I missed my bus the following day and had to have my uncle drive me to school since my parents were away from the country.
At first I figured we'd be rivals, Sheila and I. When we first met she'd try to screw up my hair a couple of times, playfully take away my pens so I'd run after her and once slapped my bum in front of the entire class. It was as if she wanted me to get rid of the shyness I carried with me all along. Weeks went by and I became one of the most mischievous girls in class. I'd play all sorts of chasing games from Cops and Robbers to Ice and Water in the schoolyard with a bunch of other eighth graders and literally hit some tall beefy guys by accident. I bumped into a seventh grader on one occasion who was a feet taller than me. We slammed each other's heads with ferocity and after a while found him crying beneath Mr. Peterson's arms. Being a rather extremely sensitive kind of person, I almost cried as well but in the end I was laughing like crazy with a few groups of friends. Numbers thought that I was being childish and immature but I didn't really care about what they thought of me. As long as I was with Sheila, everything would be fine…or so I thought.
The year's second semester we received a new student. Her name was Farrah and every one of the students hated her, not because she wasn't pretty, hip or anything but because of the fact she thought of herself as 'stunningly beautiful'. We knew that from the way she'd flicker her thinning eyelashes every second, from the way she walked and the way she kept flirting with some teachers. Moreover, she had all these ugly zits on her face, her coffee-colored hair looked as if they hadn't been washed for a decade. She was kind of short for her age and had a mannish body, although I lied to her once that she was perfectly 'thin'.
When I first saw her standing by the door, I was so eager to be a friend of hers until she asked me why I was dressed in full black…as in 'Do you think wearing that would make you look cool?' and since I tend to get furious so easily I immediately snubbed her and said it was none of her business.
Everyone in class would imitate her every move and each one would break up afterwards, even during classes. Farrah was obviously trying to figure out what the kids were snickering about and later on learnt that she was the school's biggest laughingstock. She had no friends, no one to be with during breaks. Everyone would be out in the yard while she'd sit in class all by herself not even having her lunch. I know I hardly ate a thing at school (I was anorexic/bulimic at that time) but at least she would've gone out of class and hang out with some people like I did.
Up till now I don't understand why I was being so mean to her that year, perhaps I was only trying to get more attention or I was thinking that being ruthless to someone whom everybody hated would make Sheila sort of proud of me. I guess I was acting exactly like one of those snobby chicks you'd see on TV; maybe I was trying to copy them or maybe being heartless and rude to someone inferior was fun…I really am not sure why I was treating her so cruelly. There was a time when I brought a whole bucket of green goo to school and placed the stuff on her seat. Unfortunately she was sitting next to me but anyways I was incredibly overjoyed that she actually sat on it and when she got up all her 'behind' was filled with the green sticky substance which people would definitely describe as 'gross'. That period was just before break and the whole class and I (except for a girl called Amber who wore glasses which only nerds would dare put on) were planning to get Farrah into the schoolyard so that all girls and most especially the guys would notice her.
"Farrah, why don't you come join us in the yard? You can buy your snacks from the cafeteria," I said giving a phony smile while the girls who stood behind her were struggling not to have their giggles heard. She certainly couldn't believe why I was all of a sudden being nice to her. "You really mean it? Um…" she said as she looked around the class and wondered why on earth everybody was staring at her by then. Sheila stood beside me, smirking while I and another girl both dragged her with force out of the class. Another friend of mine's kept shoving her from the back until goody-goody Amber hurriedly blocked the door and shrieked 'Wait! You can't leave this room with that! What's that thing?' pointing at the goo. Farrah was apparently shocked when she saw it and the whole class, who had then stopped guffawing, acted like they've never seen it before. I too pretended to be not responsible for it. "Oh my god, ewww! Is that yours?" I said, slowly roaring with laughter. The whole class laughed along with me while I held Farrah's skirt high above the air. I pretended to be to getting rid of the green stuff that was smeared all over her bottom. "You know what…why don't we wash this off with water?" I said, acting as if I cared about her or something. Sheila and I accompanied Farrah to the bathroom and if you were there, you'd find three eighth grade girls on a sink trying to take off some green slime from a gray-colored skirt. I rubbed, scratched, tore with all effort and purposely made numerous holes and openings in her uniform. "Send it to the school's tailor," said Sheila. "There's a tailor at school?" she asked, not thinking I was the one who made the holes. "Yeah, you'll find him somewhere over there," I said, foolishly pointing at nothing but thin air. "Will you two come with me?" "Mariam, we have Mrs. Christy right now" said Sheila and off we went chortling while Farrah walked towards another building.
Farrah was with no doubt the school's most well-known dupe. One day when we were at the school's library my clique and I gathered around Farrah and began asking her several questions only to embarrass her. Since she didn't really know a lot of English words, we asked her questions like "Are you a dyke?" and all girls would start laughing like hyenas. "What does 'dyke' mean?" she asked looking at me with puzzled eyes. That caused me and Sheila to stare at each other for some time and went laughing so hard till our sides would hurt.
"Well, a dyke is…" I whispered while my friends hid their teary eyes filled with laughter under the table, "it's someone who likes to learn a lot, someone who feels that he or she has the need to know something, someone curious!"
"Yes I'm afraid I am," she said beaming at me.
"Ooh!" said Sheila lightheartedly. By that instant, everyone in the crowded library was cackling, some had tears falling from their eyes and most of us turned scarlet.
"Why's everybody laughing?" asked Farrah.
"That's because they've never had a dyke at school!" I said giving her a broad grin.
"I still don't see the point why they must laugh like that…"
Sheila, Amber and I were thinking of what other question we'd ask her. When I told them my idea they both started giggling.
"So Farrah, do you have a…" I couldn't stop myself laughing so hard, thus Sheila completed the question for me, saying, "Farrah, do you have a dick?"
"What's a dick?"
"It means 'mother', do you have one or are you an orphan?" I asked, still roaring with laughter.
"No, I'm not…yes, I do have a dick" she said and we all instantly laughed like we had watched the most hilarious flick on Earth.
Ridiculing Farrah never made me guilty of doing so; I thought teasing her was fun. I felt that the more I made someone look inferior, the more I grew confident and superior. Every time I had the chance to pass by her I'd roughly shove her against the walls with my elbow. I was the one who'd hurt her with my bare hands while Sheila was to holler all sorts of dreadful insults at her perplexed face in front of a fairly large crowd.
One time Sheila gave me a dare to slap Farrah on her cheeks real hard and I did. She gave me a slap too but harder and I right away slapped her again with more force, she tried to whack me again but missed while I had another chance to smack her pimpled face one more time. We were slapping one another other as if hitting each other's faces with our open hands was all we could do. I thought it was funny but Farrah took it very seriously. That afternoon she called me and I was screaming at her on the phone like I've never done to anyone before. "You started it!" she squeaked and I yelled, "It was your fault not mine's! You shouldn't have slapped me when I hit you! I was only kidding! And why the hell are you making it such a big deal anyways? Ugh! I'm sorry, ok!?" then I hung up and unplugged all telephone wires so she wouldn't call back. However, that night when the family was having dinner she made a phone call and this time my mom answered it.
She was actually having a talk with Farrah, the freak. "Tsk tsk tsk! Are you sure? My daughter did that? Tsk tsk tsk! Yes, uh-huh, yes…of course…yes, she should be…ah, I see…tsk tsk tsk!" was all she said. In the end I found out that Farrah was making up stories about what I did to her, making me sound even worse, much worse. "She said you slapped her for no reason! How could you do such a thing?" mom roared. After she explained to dad what happened, he grasped my arms real tight and gave me a blow on my face which turned bright red.
That was the first time he'd ever hit me in years and that night was when I first turned extremely depressed and suicidal, not only because of that but because of many family conflicts as well as various school problems. I wasn't a straight A student, unlike my brothers and I happened to be exceptionally weak in chemistry and math. Chemistry was the most complicated subject for me since I hardly understood a thing the teacher was trying to say.
After a number of days Farrah had the courage to actually talk to each student outside of class, alone, in private and literally ask them 'Can you be my best friend?' as if every guy and girl would start liking her. Whenever a student came in and out of class she'd tell us exactly what Farrah had told her and we'd all start laughing at her pure stupidity. Then it was my turn to talk to her under the staircase.
"You know that you're a very sweet girl and I like you"
"Of course," I chuckle for a while, not giving her eye contact at all.
"I have always wished to be your friend"
"And Sheila's too"
"Hey forget Sheila, ok? She's my friend, MY friend and not anyone else's!"
"I know but I like her too"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"But promise you won't laugh at me?"
"Why would I laugh at you?" still staring at the ground.
"Ok, can you be my best friend?"
"Yes, I'll give you anything you want…I promise"
"Look, I'll think about it okay?"
When I entered the class everyone was gathered at my desk, waiting for me. After I sat they all started asking me what happened. "So are you going to be her best friend?" Sheila asked, her eyes filled with both curiosity and envy. "Of course not, eww! She – my best friend? No way!" and then she gave me a smile of relief. The following days were pretty hard for the three of us, Sheila, Farrah and me. When I told Sheila about Farrah's recent phone call and the fact that she was demanding that my own mother order me not to hang out with my new best friend Sheila, she got pretty mad. Every morning and afternoon she'd be screaming her heads off at Farrah while I and a huge gang of girls stood behind Sheila, defending her. "Who are you to phone her mother and say that we're not supposed to be friends anymore? You have no right to break my relationship with my best friend so f*ck off!" "You told her to slap me so you started the whole thing!" "So?! You have a problem with that, you bitch!?" the fights went on endlessly each day and they never seemed to stop.
Several weeks passed by and for some strange reason I found myself hanging out with Farrah in lunch breaks, I don't quite remember why. I'd have a walk with her in the school yard while Sheila from afar would stare at us with extreme revulsion. In art class she'd give me that look that gave me an idea that I was in major trouble. In dismissal while I was on my way to the bus station, she came up to me and started screaming at me in front of a large number of guys roaming around the field. "I can't believe you're so stupid enough to be friends with that motherf*cking p*ssy! Blah blah blah --> Oh go f*ck with her!!!" I had never felt so much insulted in my entire life. I simply glared at her like she was the loser and not me, so I resumed walking.
While on my way home in the bus, I couldn't stop myself from shedding tears. I caught the driver's eyes looking at me with pity through his rearview mirror as well as other upper high school guys and girls who sat behind me. They all knew me and were wondering what made me cry like that. When I went home I spent hours trying to write a letter for Sheila to read so that she'd accept my apology. But as I read my letter from top to bottom so many times I thought I was being too mawkish, thus I ripped it off and decided that I talk to her the following day myself.
We were attending some rehearsals for our Annual Day, a party held every year where parents, friends and family members are expected to attend and watch their kids perform on stage; that day was when my parents refused to show up. So the only one I had to keep me company was a friend two years older than I. Sheila was in her cherry-red and black Spanish custom, all set for salsa while I wore my well-designed uniform, I was in a choir to sing both a cheesy welcome song and a farewell song. As for Farrah, well, she had no role at the party and decided not to come. Standing behind the stage, Sheila stood next to me not saying a word though she looked like she wanted to tell me something. "Sheila?" I thought maybe calling out her name would be good enough to start a short conversation.
"Look, I'm sorry for what I did…you're not mad, are you?"
She gives me a quick glance and shrugs as if to say, 'I'm not sure'.
"You're not jealous, right?"
"No, no, why would I be jealous?"
"Jealous of Farrah…me being with her in recess"
"I'm not that kind of person, you know"
"You know perfectly well that I don't really like her"
"Then why do you hang out with her?"
"Just to keep her company…"
"You say you don't like her and you want to keep her company…"
"She feels very lonely, Sheila"
"Well, I don't care"
"Don't worry, you won't see me with her anymore"
"Are you sure?"
"I guess. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that you're not mad at me"
"I'm not mad you, you already know that!"
"So we're still friends?"
"Best friends!" she smiles as we start to shake each other's hands.
"So what's she like?" she asks, looking at me straight into my eyes.
"She smells like she'd never put on deodorant for years!" and we immediately burst out laughing like friends again.
Since I made a promise not to talk to Farrah anymore, Farrah was found following me wherever I went while I'd try my best to get her out of my sight. One day she was selling some hardcover notebooks to the class and I thought one of them could be used as a diary. Thinking I'm still her friend, she trusted me that I pay her some other time like I told her but I never did. I never even wanted to pay her in the first place. Until now I have that book with me and she hasn't received her money yet.
Seeing that she was the only girl in class bearing horrid pimples on every spot of her face, she felt rather self-conscious. So she asked if I could help out and I decided to sell her one of my anti-acne creams at a much higher price than the original one. When she saw the cream she said that she'd seen it in several stores at a lower price and asked me if I was trying to defraud her. "That's because you're buying it from ME. Either you buy it now or never," I said. Eventually she bought it and patiently accepted what I had charged her.
After months of torturing a girl who'd never deserved such torment, I was transferred to another private school; a lot more expensive and its chicks there were a lot more stuck-up than I used to be. Teachers hardly gave me any eye contact during classes like I was invisible and my so-called friends whom I was forced to hang out with would not say 'hi' to me whenever I'd come across them. During lessons whenever I knew the right answer to a question and lifted my hand in the air the teacher wouldn't choose me even if I was the only one raising my hand, unless I didn't know the solution to a problem the first one to choose from amongst the students was me. Each time I tried to hang out with some girls and join their conversations they'd demand that I 'butt out' and instead have my own life. Frankly telling I had not one true friend at that school, well, I almost did but I lost her when I punched her for joking around with me. Being very touchy, I always got into so many scuffles, both with the upper grades and the lower grades. The vice principal particularly learnt that I was someone who can't be trusted as I'd at least every week be sent to the principal's office because of getting into a fight or threatening someone I'd beat them up.
I recall meeting this second grader in a water fountain and having a little chat with her until she threatened that she'd splash some water on me as a joke. "No, don't!" I warned her but she stubbornly threw a whole bottle of cold water at my school uniform and I right away grabbed her with both hands, slammed her petite body into a wall then fiercely punched her in the face, calling her 'bitch'. She instantly burst into tears and ran away from me. When I came back to class, everyone had thought I'd been wetting myself too much.
There was another time when a first grader, who happened to be in the same bus as I, smacked my back playfully while I straight away slapped her face, telling her I'd never talk to her again. She didn't cry, instead she was evidently traumatized. That day I remember being hit directly on the face by a rigid ball while playing soccer with my schoolmates. It was stupid of me to just run away from the field and run all the way to class, wiping off a handful of tears. I have no idea why I'm so overly sensitive!
Life as a freshman at that messed up school was topsy-turvy. The only friends I did have was a gang of fifth grade girls who'd follow me wherever I went. Yes, I was considered as one of the smartest students in high school (I ranked second in the whole tenth grade) and everybody had my name stored in their heads but I seriously didn't like being completely alone. Whenever I'd come home all I could do was expect Sheila's phone call and when she did call, we'd talk for minutes instead of hours.
Several months ago I thought that the reason why I was so much hated at school, at home and wherever my ass leads me is because of my ill-treatment of Farrah, the pariah. Therefore I decided I'd give her a call to ask her to pardon me and to find out if we could meet each other in person so I'd give her the money I owed her. I wanted to tell her how much I regretted for whatever I did to her. Her phone rang more than a few times and I almost lost hope but then fortunately somebody at her house answered my call, it was her father. "Hello, can I please speak to Farrah?" after several minutes of waiting I recognized Farrah's high-pitched voice.
"Farrah? Hi, how are you?"
"I'm fine, thank you… may I know who's speaking?"
"It's me, Mariam"
"Mariam…your classmate in eighth grade, don't you remember?"
"Kindly tell me your full name…please"
When I told her my first, middle, and last name she paused for what seemed like an hour and said, "I'm sorry but I don't know anyone by that name!" and quickly hung up on me. I got hurt, offended, wounded as if someone had just stabbed a knife at my back, my soul. Felt like I could no longer breath, petrified, showered with guilt and shame. I phoned her again but the line was busy. I called her two days later hastily saying, "Farrah, look I want to say I'm sss…" but yet again she slammed the phone while I failed to finish my sentence. I sighed in despair, putting my phone down saying "I wanted to say I'm sorry…for everything".
The other night, I asked Sheila to phone Farrah for me, to tell her how sorry I was. Because I trusted my best friend, I believed her when she said she phoned Farrah but the girl hung up on her. "You know, I don't feel sorry for the way we treated her. I really don't. That crazy bitch deserved all those torments…I mean, who on earth would dare show her any respect? She doesn't deserve any!" Sheila said.
As I mentioned before, Sheila and I aren't in touch anymore all because of some misunderstandings. The last time we had a proper chitchat she had informed me that she'd be studying engineering in a foreign country. In my case, I'm currently getting ready for college through a variety of online courses and I'm writing some poems in my free time with an aim to publish my first collection of poetry. I plan to be a writer and a poet, Sheila wishes to be an engineer (I don't know why) and Farrah would like to be a doctor as she had told me before. I've written a rueful poem about her and it is two pages long. I hope she'll get the chance to read it when it's published so she'd know how I truly feel about her.
The message behind my true story is that you should be aware of the way you treat a friend or foe. If you go on hurting others' feelings (like bullying a nerd, a geek or whatever), sooner or later you'll find yourself in that person's position. In other words, there will come a time when those who surround you will treat you exactly the way you mistreated your 'victim'…maybe even worse.