Boys don’t Cry

Remember the carefree days of school-when we’d run around aimlessly through dusty playgrounds, veering off pillars in the corridors, gliding across passages, sliding down a banister in the stairwell only to find a frowning principal, hands solemnly behind his back, busy conjuring creative punishments, sardonically smiling, when we’d kick a soccer ball with all our might, hunch together to grumble about the endless assignments teachers threw at the hapless souls we thought of us, scribbling names on the greasy desks with a date, an act of remembrance, bickering over now trivial then frivolous matters? We invariably reminisce days spent at school as blissful, days when the only worries eclipsing our frolicking days were assignments, tests, exams, an inconsequential fight with a friend and if we could triumph over time, build a time-turner, we would happily slip into the days that were.

I zealously wish I could think of my schooling as happy and exuberant but, blatantly and regretfully, it was not. I did not particularly hate school, nor did I love it. I was bullied.

I was the quintessential nerd, the one terrible at sports, the one who’d sit behind the school chapel and share his lunch with his other nerdy friends, outcast that they were; I was the butt of all jokes, morbid and unpleasant, the one who found comfort in the magical smell of library books, who’d rather spend his recess gazing at cherry trees and conifers than be laughed at on the playground; I was horrendous at Physical Education classes so much so that the teacher found great pleasure in poking fun at me, mercilessly inventing names, much to the joy of my other classmates who’d scornfully repeat the jibe for days. Entwine my nerdy idiosyncrasy with an effeminate exterior that I apparently paraded, the amalgamation was lethal!

I do not have a guttural voice and to this day a customer care executive mistakes me for a woman on the phone. I laugh at the mistake but it took me years to shun the embarrassment. School found amusement in my voice.

I walked ‘like a penguin’ claimed and laughed a teacher one day, enacting my ‘shameful’ walk to the entire class! Another word to the long list of names they kept conferring upon me each day. Being an all-boys school, the part of a woman in the drama class was always, cruelly, bestowed upon me. I remember a class on Shakespeare when we had been reading Julius Caesar, a conversation between Brutus and Portia. Invariably I was Portia while another classmate Brutus and happily the teacher chose to address me as Portia, unfazed by the devilish laughter that followed, while the classmate by his name. Reddening I continued to read, wishing every minute to run away. My plight knew no solace when I overheard the teacher mirthfully sharing the cynical joke of making me Portia with other teachers that afternoon she assumed was hilarious!

I tried hard to fit in, practised throwing a ball in the basement of our home, tried speaking hoarsely but nothing worked. I had to be shunned for I was the object of their vicious mirth!

Insulting remarks found a freeway upon my desk. An unsuspecting foot to trip me, blameless classmates taking  solemn pride in misplacing my books, my stationery became norm. And if I dissented or complained, Be a boy that you are, was tossed upon me. My father never understood. Boys do not cry or complaint. They battle it out, was tattooed upon my soul. My mother had no opinions. My sister laughed.

I had mastered the art of holding back my tears. I chose solitude, it was peaceful. I found comfort in colours and paint, in books, in Enid Blyton, imagining a Magic Faraway Tree somewhere in the blue hills yonder, in Elvis Presley and Boney M that my neighbour played day in and day out. I wanted to get out of school, of the town, escape to an unknown land where I could begin anew, erasing all that was.

Time has cloaked the macabre memories now, distance has lengthened the separation of my present from the shadowy past now, but scratch the scar and the crimson blood of unpleasantness appears.

Yes, I was pitifully bullied.

Image Credit: Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

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69 thoughts on “Boys don’t Cry

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  1. Thank you so much Marie! And writing this and with the wonderful support that everybody showered I have come to realize that we aren’t alone and there are kind souls who empathise and understand exactly.

    You put it so well. Indeed the ones who bully are in all likelihood terrified of the strength that the ones they pick on have and may be try their utmost to dampen the strength and courage. I wish they understood that not many are able to rise through the occasion and give up on themselves with the bullying they had to face. I wish there was a way to sensitise everybody, teachers, children, parents. Maybe we will be able to defeat this demon and you are already doing that through your posts!

    Believe me I am so glad to have chanced upon your writing and you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Parikhit, thank you for sharing your link to this post with me. I am holding back tears as I empathise with every word you so eloquently lay to rest on your post.

    I found all the comments so interesting, full of empathy because of similar experiences and cathartic knowing we are not alone!

    You mentioned early in the comments that bullies pick on weak children and I was glad to see you recognise further down in the comments, that it was the bullies themselves who are weak.

    Bullies are both jealous and afraid of anyone they perceive to be different. They saw your difference, your intelligence, your ability to empathise and your compassion and felt inferior to you. They built their superiority by belittling you and that included teachers who should be educated enough to know better and who are paid to encourage equality by modelling respect for everyone in their classroom. Thank you so much for sharing your story, finding my post and connecting with me. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I appreciate your sharing. I notice, or felt, while I read that you appear stronger and more secure than any of those bullies. Including the adults who modeled that horrendous behavior for the other students. Are you still in the area you were raised? To add to the sadness of what you went through, there is/was a ‘you’ in every class those teachers taught. I hope they all had your strength to deal with such ignorance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement 🙂

      I am not in the same town, moved for higher studies and job subsequently. You are right, there are always someone ‘weaker’ in a class who becomes the butt of all jokes and what surprises and angers me is that most of the teachers don’t do much. All they say is boys must sort this out! I do hope this changes some day and I do hope every bullied person finds courage to rise up against the injustice.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Far too many bullies in this world. Growing up, I was big for my age. My best friend was shorter, but stronger too. More of an athlete. We had many things in common, including both us could provoked to outrage to see someone bully someone else. We were in the habit of bullying the bullies. And we sometimes won even when taking on older kids. Of course, we didn’t fight together. Just one on one.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, it was our parents you know. Both his and mine raised us up to protect people.
        Just goes to show you can teach kids not to bully.

        Dennis once got so enraged at one of the largest boys in our high school, that without thinking about it, he picked him up, threw him across the room into some steel lockers, and dented three of the lockers.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It does. Parents and the environment we grow up in plays a big role in shaping our thoughts, our perceptions and our behaviour.

        I wish I had you both around! It would be a sight to see the bullies flung across the room. (Not a pleasant thing either :D)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It is unbelievable how ridiculous gender norms and essentialism can be. We refuse to recognize the basic human truth that men have emotions and deny them any expression that doesn’t fit a narrowly conceived box, and then sit back and wonder why men are afraid to ask for help, why young men have such high rates of suicide and unhealthy (or no) coping mechanisms. Society doesn’t always give everyone the best tools for success. Thank you for being open about this – keep being yourself, it is the greatest form of resistance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are spot on. We have this boxes of the behaviour that boys, men must adhere and if you do not fit the construed definitions that society has written for life you are doomed and must be ridiculed. Yes, the ability to not express oneself does lead to depression and suicide and the associated stigma asking for help. I remember how my father’s friends would remark with utter disbelief that I was my father’s son for he was the definition of what one would call macho and I the antipodal reality!

      But may be being different, being sensitive and owning it, difficult as it has been, has helped me in ways more than one.

      Thank you so much for your support and your encouraging words. They mean a lot 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely! I just graduated with a degree in sociology, and gender studies has always been my favorite (and most frustrating) topic, just because there are so many ways socialize men and women to be polar opposites with no rational backing to why we do so. Gender essentialism is a travesty, if you ask me.

        We need brave individuals who aren’t afraid to step outside socially constructed norms and to exist solely as themselves, not what society expects them to be.

        Guys should he just as sensitive, empathetic, and compassionate as woman – those are wonderful traits regardless of gender. I’ve always been a fan of the men who are considered more “feminine” traditionally just because they tend to be kind individuals who are “manly” enough to be themselves.

        Again, good for you – own who you are, as I’m sure you are a lovely person.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Absolutely. We need to break the moulds that have been created. It isn’t meant to be. And truly if men are sensitive and compassionate, a lot of social evils may diminish, more so in the part of the world I live in. The patriarchal society and misogynist views would also gradually fade.

        All the pressure that boys have to go through to be something they don’t wish to. It’s nauseating.

        I am so glad there are people who think differently. Thank you again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I completely agree – and it is really refreshing that someone else sees this as an issue. I think if more men were comfortable with what we have traditionally conceived as feminine we’d definitely see some of those views fade.

        So, yes, it’s a good thing that you have those qualities! Wonderful talking with you!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. All those conventional stereotyping of gender roles… Every girl should be subjugated and every boy should be the dominant one in the cruel pathetic eyes of society. You are a fighter buddy.. I am sorry that even the ones who should be guiding you let you down. I’m glad that you found peace in the world of books. Your writing feels like a streamlined flow too.. I’m sure good things are ahead of you.. Keep going bro 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s disgraceful that teachers and school employees not only don’t do anything, but participate in bullying as well. This is why we pay close attention to my 7 year old’s school. We don’t trust them anymore after he was bullied by his own teacher for the better part of first grade – when I caught her doing it and everything made sense, we demanded he be removed from her class. I’m so sorry no one stood up for you. *hugs* You should not have had to go through all that!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It never occurred to me to share my side of the story with the world. I was bullied badly for almost five to six years in my school days, and somewhere down the line I realized only two things “Either Shut up or Stand up”. You won’t believe, it resulted in me being bullied even more, but I went on, standing, reacting: and then the miracle happened. It was a gradual process: took me two years, but I came out of it.

    Inspired by your timeline, I might as well publish my side of the story.

    Have a nice day…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am glad Ritwik that I could inspire you in any way possible. 🙂

      I completely understand what you went through. I tried standing up as well; but that only resulted in further bullying. It was as though how could I rise against a destiny that was written for me. Now when I look back at the time that was, and seek some goodness I think it has made me stronger a person.

      And publishing it here was letting go of all the bottled up emotions and the support I received from everybody here has strengthened my faith.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The fact that you are writing about it speaks volumes of your courage and strength. Bullying is a terrible thing and our society is much to blame for the absurd hyper-masculinity standards it thrusts so freely. Thanks for writing such a heartfelt post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. The title of your post reminds me of a video I saw on YouTube I suggest search for it …it’s worth watching. You know you have overcome your issues when you are able to talk about it …….the very fact that you could pen down your painful experience of being bullied is a sign that you have pushed it in your past ………. stay strong and it was a great read.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Sakshi for your words and stopping by. You are right when you say that by penning it down I have overcome it. But at the same time I want to create an awareness as well. May be a voice for all those children who are scared to speak out their minds.

      And thank you for the video recommendation. I’ll definitely see it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely ……..it’s so important to spread awareness……if our talking can change the life of even one ….it’s totally worth it 😊. Have a great day

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh dear. This is so sad. Bullying is such a scorn and people do this just get some transient pleasure. I feel for you. At the same time I want to applaud you. You have gone through hell but that didn’t affect you harshly, for you have turned out to be a fine person. Your writing is elegant and your thoughts are pristine. God bless you my friend

    Liked by 3 people

  12. This is so sad and amazingly well written! Bravo Parikhit – all those books, paints and sitting with nature have made you the artist you are today. Blessing us with your magical words. Thank you, dear friend! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Krishnapriya. It took me a long while to emerge out of the shadow of my childhood. To even talk about it, was not pleasant but now I think I want to tell everybody about the issues that children deal with. I was a victim and I do not wish that for others.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are speaking on the issue very well! It’s horrible what kids have to deal with today, if it’s not one thing it’s another, but they’ll seem to find one thing to pick on others for. I say, there’s trouble in the homes and that is why we have these types of issues on our schools. Great post. I’m so glad you’re able to speak on your experience today, so that children do not feel alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are right. It’s indeed saddening to see how the weaker ones are always bullied. I think I’m wrong. It’s the weak ones at heart who bully to hide their insecurities.

        And the trouble starts at home. I do wish I can do my part to create an awareness.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you so much. I know that a lot of children are unable to deal with it. I remember reading an article in the newspaper a couple of days about a 14 year old ending his life due to bullying at school. The school authorities kept denying and so did the teachers. It’s rampant despite all the measures taken. Fear, the fact that most elders shrug off thinking it to be a trivial issue only makes it difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. So sad, and unfortunately that’s just one of many cases. I have a boy with autism and speech delay. As he grows older, my fear is that the kids will begin to realize that he doesn’t speak like they do – or say, at their age level. But, with that said, I’m on my school going children like a hawk! I get to know their teachers, communicate with them through email or by phone, and let them know anything the kids tell me might be going on in class. I don’t know if they hate me or like me for that, but when it comes to my kids and all that’s out there, I need to be proactive. Children today are growing up too fast, with video games, movies, even ‘children’s’ cartoons are all giving our children the wrong message. Yes, they will be independent, yes they’ll learn to speak up for themselves, but when they can’t, that’s when I step in.
        Parents need to speak up for their kids otherwise they’ll know things, when it’s too late.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I salute to you for doing all that you are doing 🙂 Parents indeed need to speak up for their children even if children are growing faster these days with an increased exposure to technology.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ugh! Yes, technology, video games, even cartoons now have violence and profanity the kids shouldn’t be listening to. But, as they say, to each their own. I just don’t like the mentality of waiting around waiting for things to change, I think we should already be doing that. Starting in our own home.

        You brought up such a great topic! Many thanks for reminding us through your experience, that we must see our children’s behavior, if it changes, and listen when they speak. 😊🙏🏽

        Liked by 1 person

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