Looking back, reminiscing of my time at l’Externat Ste Marie, I realize it was bittersweet. I started with so much hope and excitement, only to have it cruelly crushed by awful teachers and some classmates. I was no angel either to be honest. To suffer at the hands of those who should protect you and teach you is an experience I don’t wish on no one.
As a result, I was self – loathing; I hated the way I was, the way I look. I also hated living in Switzerland, I hated the fact I couldn’t even speak French, I hated the girls for being so cruel and mean to me, the list is endless. With so much hatred no wonder why I was angry all the time and trouble. No one could control it, including myself. What I hated the most, during my time at l’Externat Ste Marie, was when my dad left us. He was my anchor, my comfort, my everything. When I started school in Geneva, he was the go – to person when I was having a bad day. He was the person who made me happy. So happy. I was trouble, but he always knew what to do, or what to say. Now, my father has been replaced by a psychologist, and despite her effort, I was still heartbroken.
Although you must be thinking that my life sounded like a car crash, we did actually meet some lovely people who played a huge role in our lives. We met them through our parish, la Ste Trinité. Their support was so invaluable to us. So those 3 lovely women who helped us were not only foreigners like us, but so lovely. Usually my guard’s always up and I don’t open to people easily. But their kindness and warmth allowed me to open up a bit more. So, the first lady was called Yvonne, but due to her Sri Lankan origins, and in my eyes she looked like us, we called her tantie Yvonne (aunty Yvonne). We also met Madame Visvalde originally from France. She was so lovely and generous and always smiling. I used to love throwing myself at her and cover her with so much affection. Another lady who not only I loved her deeply was originally from Argentina, her name was Gloria, but we called her tantie Gloria since we spent so much time at her house. She lived opposite our school, so staying over at her house was so convenient. As my mum worked so hard, we spent so much time with tantie Gloria. She would spoil us so much. Tragically, tantie Gloria lost her only son Maurice to an illness. Despite the tragedy, she had so much love to give and share towards us.
We used to get so excited each time we went to tantie Gloria’s house. We’d watch films endlessly. It was at her house I watched ‘The Neverending story’ for the first time. I loved the film so much, so tantie Gloria allowed me to watch it over and over. I also saw myself in the character of Bastian, an outcast who was bullied. Through the whole film, Bastian spends the film alone in the attic of the school which further highlights the fact he’s an outcast. Bastian loves to read, just like me. There’s so much to say about the film, but a character that I love the most is Falcor. Years later, I’d go to Germany in Munich and see some of the setting of the film and to my delight ride at the back of Falcor.
It was clear I felt so at home at tantie Gloria’s house, and she always made us feel welcome. Ironically, going to her house made it easier to go to school on a daily basis, in a way I felt her presence. I used to stare at her balcony during break time, wishing I could pop over. I knew she’d welcome me with open arms literally. My time at Ste Marie wasn’t so unbearable thanks to her. Sadly, once we left the school, we didn’t see her as much.