My old life was gone, my friends were gone, what was waiting for me there…
The glazed rays shone on me, heat rose like a slithering snake. Taking over space around me, betwixt the thin layer of skin to cloth, the heat was not to be denied. Surrounding, squeezing and suffocating my entire body.
It was still yet summer after all. The new school year had not started yet, my mother could not wait. Me, I was not so sure, walking into orientation like a death sentence.
Dressed in my new white polo shirt and green skirt, it freshly ironed and sprayed with the muskiest perfume possible. At the very least when I walked past, people with strong noses would notice me.
If it was not that maybe the fact that my skirt was not blue unlike the other kids here, It was a deep green. It rubbed me the wrong way as everyone was staring at us, my mother ignored the attention with poise. My head held low.
Distorted and tense from the eyes of so many light skinned children. They went through me like arrows. Persecuting me, was this was how my past family felt so long ago.
To think of it, it never occurred to me once before this day. Then again I have never been around so many white and brown faces in my life. I was one of a kind, a true star of the show.
Yes, I know very well the day I received the scores. The highest scores in my parish. Teachers praised me, my friends thought I was from Venus.
My sisters and brothers at church treated me like I was the second coming, while my mother was proud. Kids that gawked with evil eyes and whispered with ill asked how I did it.
It seemed simple if not maddening in itself. No one believed me or assumed I was not normal. But I was, maybe it was because I was never outside playing with my friends. My mother would not allow me.
Studying was my breakfast, lunch and dinner, sometimes a snack on the side.
Here I was, Glenmur High one of the schools in Jamaica people dreamed of having the honor of stepping into. A student of this noble institution was my occupation. Preoccupied with the horror of what laid ahead for me in this situation.
From the registration office to the halls of the floor was spotless for the big day. All of us ushered into the large church.
Name, school I used to visit were taken by a teacher and I was instructed to go into a specific line with some other kids. Mother smiled with serene bliss, while I analyzed the scene. Mood was shattered as I realized I stuck out as a sore thumb, a black one at that.
We followed a stout white man with glasses into position among the rest of students.
Merry songs of love, forgiveness and hope, I could not help participating and singing. Well at least this was not different, a friend told me white folks worshiped a god with 8 hands. But the pastor I would presume from his appearance read out of the same book and we sang the same songs.
There was a lie somewhere for sure.
A number of people came up to speak about this and that, but my discomfort had my mind wondering much, I vaguely heard them. Only when people started to move off did I return to reality.
Going with the flow I followed the line.
We reached class 7 B.
“Settle down and have a seat children.”
Reluctant to step further as I almost walked into someone who stopped suddenly.
A brown face girl with slender cat eyelids, she peered at me and looked away just as quickly.
So I stepped left around this brown girl and stopped awkwardly in the front of the desk where sat a strangely distant Indian boy with his head resting on his hands.
Set in an akimbo on the desk, his eyes never wavered. Mother looked around slowly, I sighed as my discomfort reached a height I could not climb.
I stopped cold in my tracks. The teacher twisted his head at me. He then looked at the paper he had in his hands. Then he pointed at the back.
“Why do you not take a chair and desk at the back Serina.”
Some of the students were musing within their minds at the front which seats to take. The back was my place it seemed.
That girl from before was proceeding towards me she toke a seat at the desk to my right.
A girl came out of nowhere wanting a front seat and lamented about it to the teacher. On asking for her name. His eyes bulged. He scanned the class front.
“Rajan be a gentleman to this young lady and take another seat if you would please.”
He did not move and a slow tension boiled as I saw the teachers eyes darkened on the boy. As he was about to speak, Rajan got up.
Taking up his sack, he turned and mouthed some words inaudible I could not read. The only chairs left were pretty much at the back. Where me and cat eyes inhabited.
He looked at me now for the first time, he navigated the maze of desks and came sitting next to my left.
“Hello, good morning.”
Rajan quirked his eyebrow at me “Oh hmm, thanks, no..I mean hello. Morning too.”
“Oh what a thing, it is so nice isn’t it. I forget my manners as well it seems”
Cat eyes was peering at us through the corner of her eye. Her smile brightened me up instantly, “My name is Samantha and morning to all of you, Rajan, Serina.”
A nod at each of us on name called.
”Samantha, Rajan…. and the other student. Please be quiet we are about begin.”
Names called, he forgot mine already. Well I was not hoping on it to be honest. Samantha smirked at me and snapped her head back before the teacher saw.
Rajan was blissfully quiet as he kept his head straight. The feeling was better now, I can say my discomfort was gone. Not sure where it went but as long as it was far from me.
Around them, they seemed nice, Samantha and Rajan. Maybe was I making the bread before the yeast.
But I was alright making my bed in this serene comfort even if it was fake or prone to last a short while.
What the future holds for a black girl like me? That I could not answer now, as heat embraced me in the back of the class. Smothered I was, also by the heat of people I liked. Beside new friends, that comforted and made me smile.