My name is Koh Chen Ren or Darren. I am now 16 years old. I am relating what happened to me when I was in primary school.
During my lower primary school years, my friends played an important role in inspiring me to move forward in life. The teachers were very friendly. However, everything changed when I entered Year Four. I was struggling academically then.
I was studying in a chinese primary school and our teacher made us sit with a classmate of the opposite gender. This was to ensure that we did not make too much noise.
The girl I sat next to treated me like her personal doll and her maid, demanding everything from me.
My world began to tumble, and she literally controlled my life. Every time she quarrelled with the other girls or boys she would insist that I not befriend them.
She would always act like the boss of me. She would decide who I should be friends with. She decided who I should help and who I shouldn't, and who I should speak to.
At that time, I was not mature enough to speak up. I was scared of her as she was quite scary for her age, and when she got angry, it was a nightmare. So, I basically obeyed everything she asked me to do.
I feel sad that I did not dare speak up. Perhaps at that time I thought I was being a loyal friend to her.
I remember one incident, when our teacher asked us to write an essay or do our homework and pass it up that day itself. She asked me for help and pushed me around. As my English was better than hers, she normally needed my help with spelling and some simple grammar. She would shout at me and I would have to help her.
My Chinese language was weaker than hers, but when I asked her for help, she would ignore me and sometimes even said: “Think about it and do it yourself.” So, normally I would get help from other friends sitting around me. They were helpful indeed. Sometimes, she would ask me so many questions that it would be disruptive to the lessons but I dared not say anything as I was scared.
I was also scared that if I said no to her that she would ask others not to befriend me. There were certain times when I could not finish my homework and could not pass it up on time because of her. She would have no problem sending her work in on time, though.
There was another incident that I do not think I will ever forget. We normally had computer class every Friday and after the lesson it would be recess time. Our class was located on the highest floor and we had to climb three flights of stairs to get there. Computer class was on the ground floor. For convenience, she would order me to take her workbooks back to the class. Sometimes, she even asked a few of her friends whether they wanted me to take their books for them as well. Without asking me if I didn't mind doing it, she would stack all the books in my arms and I would have to carry them all the way back to class before going for recess. This went on for quite some time. Yet again, I did not dare speak up.
At the end of the year, something changed. It was the last day of school and our class teacher decided not to teach that day. Instead, she decided to give some presents to the students who did their best all year round. I was one of them. I had improved in all my subjects. But then, before the teacher left the class, she asked us this question: “How many of you feel that you have been bullied or treated differently this year? Everyone turned around to see if anyone would confess.
That was the first time in my life that I was actually brave enough to raise my hand. Everyone looked at me. Then my teacher said: “Good. Anyone else?” Many more hands went up. That was the moment I realised that I was not alone.
After that, the teacher went out. Then, the bully girl asked me: “Did you mean me?” and guess what I said? I replied “Yes!” and ran to the toilet. I was proud that I finally had the guts to say that.
After coming back from the long holiday break, we were again in the same class but luckily I sat with another girl. By that time, I am sure the bully had repented, and until now, in secondary school, whenever we bump into each other we would just smile and walk away.
I guess the bullying incident will remain in our hearts forever. She never apologised but through her eyes, I can see that she regrets her actions and I am just going to forget it.
To all readers, thanks for reading my story. To the bullies who are reading this, stop and repent. To the readers who are currently being bullied, be brave and speak up.
Koh Chen Ren