It was fair to say, I faced a few months of pure hell. Returning to Portugal was exactly what the doctor ordered. Smelling the sea salt filled my nose with its powerful fragrance as well as cherished memories. I was home, finally. As always, when we return to Portugal, especially in Lisbon, we visit all our uncles and aunties. My mum had a big surprise up her sleeves. Visiting our grandma, my dad’s mum, is always something I enjoyed. She was the only one in the family who didn’t judge me. In fact, she was always the one who spoilt me rotten. While other family members would laugh at me for being a little tomboy, she wouldn’t I guess because I resembled my dad. Me and my grandmother will forever be linked as I had her name (my second name). She was known as ‘Dona Joana’ or Madam Joana for being so posh I guess. My mum’s mum, was known as Maria just like my sister. I wonder if the names were just pure coincidence or it was meant to be. The visit to my grandma this time was different. Usually, our mum would leave us to the front door. This time, we went to her house by ourselves as she didn’t want to come up. As we arrived, our grandma asked where my mum was. We just say we didn’t know. Unconvinced, our grandma pipped at the window. We followed as well. My mum’s hand was clearly visible in the car as the car drove off. Our grandma wondered why our mum didn’t accompany us and brought us to the doorstep at least. We didn’t know. A few moment later, we saw our dad. I thought I was dreaming. My happiness was short lived. He was with his new wife and his son. Jealousy ran through my body.
We spent a whole day together, when I sat on my dad’s lap, he was all mine for a brief moment. I wanted this moment to last forever. He was caressing my back, showering me with kisses. All my troubles vanished for a moment. I was reminded my dad wasn’t only mine. My half- brother kept on calling him. My half-brother shares the same name of my father. Our 2 weeks in Portugal flew by and by the time we knew it, we had to return to Geneva. Returning ‘home’ was horrible. I simply wanted to return with our dad. In reality, I just didn’t want to return to the school ever again. There is a say, be careful what you wish for. Unbeknown to me and probably my mum, my teacher was slowly getting rid of me. I guess he has had enough of me. It all started when he asked me to ask my mum to sign some papers. I forgot of course. He asked me a few times and I did forget each times. The urgency of his persistent reminder was in fact my mum signing an agreement that I should move schools.
One day, as I came into class, the teacher was blocking my way. He demanded the letter. I forgot to sign it again. I didn’t think it was important. Well, it was important to him but not for me. I wasn’t aware of the content of the letter. He demanded I return home to have my mum sign the letter. My mum was at work. I tried to tell him that, but he wasn’t interested. All he wanted was for me to have the letter signed by any means. As he shut the door, I had no choice but to leave the school’s premises. Alone, scared and pressured, I hastily made my way to my mum’s workplace. It was quite far from the school. In order to get there, I needed to take the tramway and a bus. I had no money either and I was scared to be caught. I simply knew I had to do what I was told. Armed with my letter, I took the tram until central Geneva. Then I took the bus to the clinic where my mum works. The area where I had to take the bus was and still is, a hotspot for ticket inspectors in Geneva. Looking around, I didn’t see them so I jumped in the bus. The stressful thing is when you travel without a ticket, you never know when or where they (ticket inspectors) would appear. The whole bus journey, was a nerve wracking one. I was so mad at myself for not giving any importance to the letter. Despite everything this teacher did to me, I always tried to impress him. Well, it was clear, I failed quite miserably.
Once I arrived at my mum’s workplace, I nervously entered to the reception area. I was an animal entering the slaughter house. Everyone looked at me without saying a word. You could in fact hear the deafening silence. The nosey receptionist asked me why wasn’t I in school, whether I was bunking school. To be honest, it was a blur. Before I had the time to answer, my mum came by and asked me what was I doing at her workplace. Speechless, I handed her the letter. I urged her to sign it so I can quickly return to school. She signed it and gave me some money for the transport. She said she would come to pick me up later and have a word with the teacher. I thought, she would speak to the teacher about how careless I have been not handing her the letter sooner for her to sign. As I quickly rushed to the school, my teacher asked me for this damn letter. As I gave him the key to allow me back to class, he moved aside and I was allowed in.
The teacher was so nicer to me that day. I thought it was because I did what he wanted me to do and that I followed his instructions for once. Finally, I have impressed him and I was in his good books.
When the end of the day loomed, I realised I forgot to tell my teacher that my mum wanted to talk to him. He found out as my mum was waiting outside with her arms crossed. As I went to her, she said I should go home with my sister.
My teacher started to talk to my mum who didn’t seem to be in any mood to listen to him. She shouted at him, saying how irresponsible he was to let me go to my mum’s work place on my own and how he would feel if his sons were treated the same way he has treated me? As we left in a hurry, we could all hear my mum shouting at my teacher. If walls have ears, I was pretty sure they became deaf after my mum going on and on about everything my teacher did to me. In a way, I felt like my teacher would have ammunitions to get back at me for the way my mum was treating him.
I now came to realised his actions that day was a breach of safeguarding. Anything could have happened to me while I was desperately getting to my mum’s workplace in order for her to sign this damn letter. In fact, I could have had an accident, I could have been ran over, kidnapped or worse. The fact was my teacher never liked me. Probably it was for my colour (me and another person were the only 2 mixed raced in the class and we were treated horribly by him always) or because of my strong demeanor or my strong character. I wasn’t an easy person and I can say only in Marcelly was I ever fully accepted for the way I was. My mum’s rightful reaction gave the school another reason not to let me stay there. As she complained to the headteacher, she was seen as a fierce animal on a rampage. The headteacher obviously ignoring my teacher’s action, or supporting his action, informed my mum I was to find another school as I was just not complying whatsoever nor settled. She had a point, I never settled. I wonder why wasn’t I able to simply return to Marcelly?
I also think that in terms of my mum reaction towards my teacher, no one has ever had the guts to talk to him this way. When my mum returned home, we all sat and ate our dinner in silence. I could feel her disappointment in her eyes. I also reflected on all the injustice I had to endure as well as the teacher never once supporting me, taking my side or ever liking me. All that once again made me an easy target for my classmates. Each times I fought back to the cruel mockeries or arguments, I quickly earned a detention or telling off from my teacher. I was forced to accept all the injustice I was facing. My mum was clearly outnumbered as it seemed the school wanted me out and soon. I didn’t know then what was happening, however, I knew my mum was looking for a boarding school for me and my sister. It was a bittersweet moment for me: I was finally leaving this prison and not returning for my final year in primary school, I was finally going to be out of my misery once and for all. Unfortunately, it meant a new school yet again! Adrien-Jeandin was my 3 or 4th primary school. The others, I had to leave because of the distance. This one, I was literally kicked out.
All I could do was to make the most of the last few months I had with my soon to be former classmates. There would still be more bumps on the never ending roads at Adrien-Jeandin!