Characters I identify myself with

After my dad’s brutal and heartbreaking departure, I started to binge watch TV with so much frequency. I was getting addicted to TV. My TV addiction couldn’t have come at a better or worst time (for my mum): During the 80s, especially the late 80s, Japanese animations were simply perfection. For me, it was a blessing, so many great shows and series in animation. Hands down, I was a massive manga fan, the Japanese mangas were just amazing; the drawing and colours caught my attention. You wonder how was I made aware of the Japanese mangas? Well in France, during the 80s, mangas were on the rise and such a hit with television audiences. I had access to most of the French channels which is why we watched it so frequently, dubbed in French. Some of my favourite Japanese mangas were: Sailor Moon, Ai Shite Knight, City Hunter, Saint Seiya (Kinghts of the Zodiac), Dragon Ball Z and the list definitely goes on.

Sailor Moon
Ai Shite Knight
City Hunter

It was also during the end of the 80s that the Simpsons were created. Needless to say I enjoyed the Simpsons.

The Simpsons

At the beginning of the 90s, to my absolute delight, Tintin was created as a cartoon series. I read all the books and now I was able to see one of my favourite character on TV too.

Tintin

I guess watching TV, enabled me to forget about my troubles even briefly: I was missing my dad daily, my weekly visit to the psychologist and of course my ongoing troubles at school. To my mum’s chagrin, I would watch TV on a daily basis instead of doing my homework. The only thing I did for homework was reading, which was becoming more of a passion than a hobby. I especially loved reading fairy tales. I realized no matter how hard I tried at school, I wasn’t able to succeed, so what was the point? I must admit I learned in my own time and in my own terms. Perhaps that was also the reason I didn’t fare well in school. Perhaps my stubbornness and strong character were the reason I didn’t get along with my classmates as much as I should have. These qualities of possessing a very strong character enabled me to identify myself with 2 important characters in my childhood: Ikki in Saint Seiya and Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z.

Vegeta
Ikki

Ikki, in Saint Seiya, at first appears as an antagonist, gradually he became a hero. He always seems angry, when in fact he was misunderstood because he has been through so much, which shaped his strong character. Despite being part of a group, he often goes on battles alone. Arguably he was the odd one out in Seiya’s circle and an outcast by choice. However, he always remains loyal until the end as well as fulfil the saints code to protect earth and Athena. Ikki always seems upset, but deep down he is very sensitive. He had to endured being adopted and a brutal training in Death Queen Island to become a saint.

Vegeta, on the other hand, is extremely arrogant, proud but (unlike me) hardworking. Just like Ikki, Vegeta at first appears as the antagonist but as the serie progressed, he became an antihero and finally a hero. His rivalry with Goku never changed nor stopped. Although he is part of a group, he also prefers his own company, therefore being an outsider by choice and close allies during battles . I love that contradiction to his character. I like that just like me, Vegeta is not very sociable. Ikki is the same in that matter. Vegeta always seems upset, like Ikki, but it is due to his seriousness. Just like Ikki, Vegeta always remains loyal and fights for justice. Of course, Ikki and Vegeta share many similarity but they are so different: Ikki is sensitive unlike Vegeta, although on rare occasions he displays his sensitivity. Vegeta’s anger comes from his arrogance as he feels he should be regarded as the best. Vegeta is also the son of King Vegeta of the Saiyan race. Being a prince by birth perhaps deepened Vegeta’s arrogance. Ikki’s anger comes from pain and protection for his younger brother Shun. Both animations (Dragon Ball Z and Saint Seiya) were popular and well known, but Vegeta’s character has been hailed as the most iconic character; not only in Dragon Ball Z, but also in manga and anime history. Now this fact will finally give Vegeta something to be arrogant about! The reason why those two characters struck a chord with me was because of their personalities which I felt so connected with. I always seemed upset, moody, stubborn, angry and of course, I had a very strong character. Needless to remind you I have always felt like an outsider. Just like with Ikki and Vegeta, I fought a lot, but they fought for better reasons than me obviously. Despite this strong character I still possess today, beneath it all, I was very sensitive.

Dragon Ball Z and Saint Seiya were my favourite mangas of all time due to identifying myself with such iconic characters. One feature that separated me from those characters, was the fact that when I like something, I would over like it. I would get carried away. It is good and bad at the same time. Another trait as well is that Ikki, Vegeta and myself have such complex character and full of contradictions. For my part, I hated school yet I loved reading (still do). I hated Switzerland yet I enjoyed the beauty Switzerland possesses. I was rough, strong but also very sensitive to comments about my colour and figure, especially coming from girls. Watching cartoons, especially the Japanese manga, enabled me to escape my reality into a world of fantasy. Those characters stayed true to their strong and contradictory personalities. At the time, Vegeta and Ikki reminded me that despite the hardships they faced, they kept going. Literally in the animation, their lives was a constant battle. It is visualized through their daily battles per episode. At times, they had to take on adversaries twice their size as well as superior. When all seemed impossible, they always found a way by fighting until the end.
Life in Switzerland for me was a constant battle, though it was hard, I kept going despite all the things I faced so far; sadly more was on the way. However, I had to face those battles heads on by adapting to my life in Switzerland, therefore accepting that Switzerland was my home even though I didn’t feel like it. Also, I was hoping that people would accept me for the way I was. Vegeta and Ikki finally were accepted for who they were. After all, our complex and strong personalities is what defines us.

Reminiscing of my time at St Marie

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.

A science experiment

I saw myself as a science experiment. When people are literally trying to work you out constantly, my psychologist, my mum, my teacher and my classmates. I was just heartbroken and had no idea how to express it. I was so young as well. This level of attention I had, ironically made me feel so alienated. You know something is not right when you are not invited to birthday parties (I have been invited a couple of times in 3-4 years), I haven’t had the privilege to experience playdates. I felt so alone and withdrawn. 

I needed a distraction. My poor mum, who was already working hard to make ends meet, was working equally hard to find us activities to keep us occupied as clearly TV and comic books were not enough. Also, my mum was looking for a new school for us as the journey to and from school was so long. We had to cross the whole town just to go to school. 

I was obviously nervous for a new beginning to another school. I am sure the current school I was in, would welcome my departure in a heartbeat. It would be a great relief for everyone when word got out I was bound to leave my school.

What I didn’t know is the next school I would go to, I would spend the best 2 years of my life where classmates and teachers would finally accept me for me.