Monday, July 20, 2009

Young Witches On Training

Their laughter was simply symphonic. Never had it crossed my mind that the day would come I would find their laughter musical. It must have been the silly fences they built around themselves that had in the past made their laughter sound like discordant notes which assaulted the senses. Not anymore. They have leaped out of their fences. They had freed the spirit chained within themselves and allowed the harmonious cadence of their laughter to be heard. I wondered when the last time was that they laughed with such joyful content. I had never seen them that happy before. Their laughter was just magical. It was enchanting. It conjured the image of a bird in flight; of a butterfly emerging out of its cocoon. It was a laughter of freedom.
I remembered the times when the sound of their laughter sent chills to my bones each time it strayed into the sanctum of my hearing range. Mother Alma, our catechism teacher, told us about devils laughing each time someone did something evil. If Mother Alma was right and devils did laugh, their laughter I used to hear must have streamed in the same wave.

Their laughter always carried an ominous ring. It foretold of a disaster that was going to strike and always, I was the disaster's moving target. I was its easy prey.

Logic could desert you when pushed to the edge of sanity as logic had deserted me those times. While I prayed for forgiveness to the Lord for wishing evil to people who had done me evil each time I knelt down to pray at night, I had also made a list of people I prayed He would punish for treating me in way I did not deserve. I still could remember a few who made it to that list.

Rebecca topped the list. She did not just make my life disturbed and miserable. She made it hell. I could not believe someone so beautiful outside could be so ugly within. I could write a book on the pranks she played on me but the memory of one that really made me cry stood out. She pretended to be fixing her pen one time and ended up splattering ink all over my white blouse uniform. She laughed. She was amused that I could not hold my tears back.

It was not funny. She knew. They all knew that the nuns only gave me two sets of school uniform. Each night after I finished with my work, I washed the uniform I wore that day to be ready for the day after next. With only one uniform left after the ink disaster, every night, I would have to stay awake till late. I would spend much time fanning my uniform after having it washed trying to get it dry so I would have something to wear the next day.

Regina was also on that list. She was not as evil as Rebecca but almost. One time at school break, she and her friends invited me to the school cafeteria for some snacks. I seldom saw the insides of the cafeteria except when the nuns sent us to have it cleaned when the janitor went on a day-off. Regina told me she was going to give me a treat. My mind told me not to accept the invitation but the naive mountain girl in me insisted I should and I knew why.

Among our people, food was our way of offering friendship. It was our way of making peace. For us, partaking in food with others meant more than just an act of easing our hunger pangs but a covenant of brotherhood; of sisterhood. If you would enter any household back home especially if this was your first time to visit, expect to be offered something to eat. If for some reason you could not eat the food offered you, you would need to explain this to your host and hope he would understand. To simply decline a food offering would be declaring your refusal to be in communion with the person who made the offer. That would be a crime. You would have to understand the full meaning of the act to know why you could not take the offer lightly. Among our people, food is symbolic of life. An invitation from someone to partake in a food is actually an offer to be a part of his life. The act of eating what he offered marked you as his true brother or a sister. If you were a visiting stranger and you eat at someone else's house, you would be surprised how people would be referring to you as this someone's brother or sister and be accorded the due respect. But the world I grew up into was entirely alien to the world of these girls. Regina and her friends would never see food along that light.

The girls loved the cafeteria's chocolate porridge. It was on top of the menu and it was what we ordered. The cafeteria was the serve yourself style. I could hardly take my eyes off the bowl of porridge as I carried it back to my seat. I had to remind myself not to act like one those street kids gawking at the candy bars they saw displayed in the candy store. The smell of the porridge was just lovely. I could hardly wait to taste it.
I did not get the chance. Regina pulled out my chair as I was about to sit. I ended up with a thud on the floor. There I was spread eagle on the floor like a ballerina who missed on her jump. The bowl of porridge spilled all over me. I must have looked like I did a demo on how to bathe in chocolate porridge lying down. Regina tried to offer an excuse saying she only wanted to help me seated which of course was a lie.

Everybody in the canteen found the incident funny. The laughter it invited leaped to millions of decibel. It was not my eardrum that their laughter shattered. It crumbled what took my people years to teach me. Our culture schooled me to always believe in the inherent goodness of people. They could be evil sometimes but you should venture to search for the good that lay hidden within them. That was how enduring relationships are built I was taught. But that moment on, I ceased to believe in the wisdom of such search.

One would think I must have wandered off into a coven of young witches on training and not in the best exclusive school for girls in the country where only the very rich and supposedly well bred girls could have an access if you would look at my list. But I did take pleasure in having that dream, where I was this glamorous witch vigorously stirring the cauldron while I watched Betty begged me to let her out of my boiling potion.
Ah yes Betty! She was the princess of mean. She may not have played pranks on me but she did enjoy throwing me insults. I could not forget how one time, she put spit on her half finished chocolate bar and then offered it to me saying, I should taste it as she was sure I never had sunk my teeth on a Belgian chocolate before. She always elicited laughter of affirmation each time she threw those diatribes on me but that particular stinging insult got the most rancorous reply.

She may not have been on the list but our "me and her story" would deserve a mention. Lourdes exuded that "I could not hurt a fly look" but she had this evil streak lurking within her or she would not have stuck gum on my hair. That was another amusing show for everyone while I tried to take it off.

When Maria, my sister, heard about the gum incident, she rushed to confront Lourdes about it. Lourdes in a coy irritating way told her it was just an accident. That all the more fueled my sister's rage. In an angry voice which reverberated around the campus, she blurted out her "How about if I spank you?" signature remark which cascaded out of her mouth whenever she was really pissed of. That was the signal for Lourdes to unleash her wailing siren which landed her and my sister at Mother Susana's office and earned my sister one day suspension from her class. My sister and I had a good laugh over that incident.

The laughter that found its orchestra and played on beautiful notes was what I kept in my heart. The evil sound that their laughter once held are now only part of my memories' dustbin. I sometimes retrieve it and dust it off when I tell people of my life story but only to let them see by themselves what had been but never should be. Laughter in its pure form could be soothing and healing but when sharpened on its edge, it could inflict a devastating wound. It is a powerful medium of communication exchange. It should be used with care. Laughter does not disguise its message. It would not tell lies. I believe it would be good to ask ourselves whether people hate it when we laugh. Sometimes, they do.


  1. Wow, there surely are mean girls in every decade.

  2. It was so wonderful to see your posting for June 16. I check almost every day hoping that there will be a new posting. I love your stories. I love remembering. Thank you for your memories. Mary Ann

  3. Another lovely story :O)

    Children can be so cruel.

  4. Honestly, is it an act of growing up that make girls so mean when they are young? A rite of passage? It seems nothing changes with time, the acts themselves just get harsher. Beautifully written as usual. I too look daily for new postings. You have seen a lot in your life and I am happy to share in your memories. Thank you so very much for the link love in this wonderful story.

  5. Spife

    There would always be girls who think that being mean is the way to go whatever the decade.

    Mary Ann

    I have been in hiatus for over a month for some personal reason. I got you and other people to thank for keeping this site alive the time I was inactive. Thank you so much for loving my stories. I hope you continue to stick it out with me.


    You continue to pay my site a visit
    and read my stories. I am flattered. Thank you so much. You are a friend.

    My friend Ettarose!

    I believe children do not want to be mean. I think it is in the way we teach or not teach them how to handle power. The children's world is a microcosm of the society that raised them. The rich and the powerful continue to exploit the poor and the powerless in today's society. Male dominance over women often take a violent form. I can go on and on.

    Thanks Etta Rose. Your visit is always a pleasure.

  6. I'm so glad you are writing again. I've missed your stories too. You have some fascinating links in this one!

    I had to cringe as I read because you brought back memories I don't like to dwell on, and I know my mother and daughter experienced similar things. Your example inspires me to write of my own tribulations. I've been inching near that day.

    Keep writing!

  7. Hey sweetie...It was so good to hear from you...So glad you are writing again...I think we all have memories of a hurtfull time but the main thing is that we survived did not destroy us..I too have been away and busy...I actually shut down the blog and thought it would be best if I left blogland...but it is hard to leave when there are so many loving and supportive souls out for now I only blog once in a while....I actually just got thru posting a new post a few minutes ago! lol Hope all is well with you dear soul and please come by anytime!!!

  8. Children can be so cruel. It's great that you've been able to rise above it and put those memories in the bin, where it belongs. Kess' mama

  9. Some things you never forget. My adopted DD has special needs and gets picked on a lot. I wonder about the scars she harbors that I don't know about.

    Sometimes she is the one doing the mean things, and I feel so sad for the kids that she is mean to, because I know that even if it was just a "behavior" or a "bad day" for my DD, it will be remembered forever by the other child. She understands that in hindsight, but has impulse control problems (not an excuse, just an explanation of why she would continue to act out if she understands how badly it hurts others)

    I find myself thinking that it's too bad that parents these days seem especially bereft of the ability to teach compassion, but from your story, I guess things have been that way for a long time.

    What a wonderful blog you have!

  10. Grandma, I have to say, there really are mean girls in every decade and somehow, I could say that at one point of my life as a Catholic schoolgirl, I became both a victim and a bully. I think it's really an integrated part of school culture to have bullies no matter how bad it is.

  11. Hi Sharon! (Rittergal)

    Yeah! It feels great to be back. More so that someone familiar is there to welcome you. :)

    Please do write about it. I am sure it's gonna be an interesting read.

    Thanks again!

    Oh Picket!

    Another friend! Hey! Don't you dare shut down your blog. Being busy is no reason to do it. An old woman almost at the end of the road has a reason to but not someone still full of energy as you do. You have a lots to share. Go share it. If the sharing could send even just one soul to reflect on her own life, it should be worth the effort. So hang on!

    Thanks for coming. I am not saying do visit again. I am sure you would. :)

    Hi! Kes and her mama

    Boy! I am glad you came by. Kes there is much that we can learn from dogs. You do not do such evil things to each other, do you? LOL

    Thanks for the visit!

    Hello Carrol!

    I feel for DD. I was picked on because I dared venture into the
    enclave of the rich. My presence was a stain to the image they wanted to project. It was basically a class issue.

    Being targeted for your disability maybe much worse. I think I understand why she returns mean for mean. It was my faith, a result of my cultural and religious upbringing, that evil would have its own time for retribution that has led me to hold on to my sanity and so I did not fall into the level of the mean girls in my story.

    With DD, her hostility may not just be an expression of her "impulse control problem" but her way of saying, "you can't push me around just because I am differently abled". In the recesses of her mind, she knows that if she does not fight back, she would be trampled upon. Her means of fighting back may not be right but it maybe the only coping mechanism she knows. Unless she is presented with a choice then maybe she would stick to what she has.

    Carol, I am no psychologist nor psychiatrist. Mine is just a survivor's point of view based on the information on your comment.

    Indeed, it is sad that parenting has lost out to the race for economic survival and wealth. The prognosis is gloomy.

    Thank you Carol for visiting. Thank you for sharing.

    Hi! Metal Munky,

    Catholic school bred? That makes the two of us. :) From experiences shared, it does appear that it is indeed so integrated into the school culture. It is so sad, isn't it? It is one issue however that calls for a solution.

    There is a need to put the issue on the forefront. Maybe as more people talk about it, an appropriate intervention could be worked out.

    Well, this very old grandmother is still full of hope. :)

  12. What a beautiful post. Exquisite writing!

  13. hi, the title of your blog caught my attention and then the profile got me interested. and i found myself plunging into the depths of the story and feeling every single word. you were not alone experiencing meanness from people. i did just because i was born poor but i almost couldnt believe that there are girls, pretty as you described them, who could be that evil. mine was more of hurting words and insults and glances from mean people.

    i'll leave my blog's link in case my url will not be recognized again -

    thanks for sharing this. please continue writing.

  14. I just wanted to let you know that your stories and your life are very inspiring. It is fantastic that you are sharing your memories and experience for all of us to appreciate!

    Your blog is featured in our weekly series. You can see the post here:
    A Blurb About a Blog

  15. Hello Grandma julia,

    Thank you for visiting my blog so that I could find yours!
    Your life stories and the insightful way you tell them are truely captivating.
    Take care.

  16. The imagery your writing conjures is pure artistry. You are a sly and gifted writer. I like how you created your backlinks in such an inconspicuous manner.

  17. I remember how cruel classmates can be all too well. I am reminded every time one of my children experiences it. When a friend playfully pulled a chair out from under me, I hit the floor so hard I broke my tail bone and was out of school on six weeks bed rest.

  18. You have a wonderful way with words; excellent prose. I dabble a bit myself and enjoyed your work.


  19. G-ma Julia, you sure know how to write. I was completely engaged in this post. I bet they could make a movie of your life. Who would you like to play you?

  20. very lovely indeed, and engaging...

  21. Wow~ This is a fantastic post. I just loved it~

    I've tried a hundred times to write a "mean girl" post, but couldn't find the words. You did it~ :))


    A Nice Place In The Sun

  22. Girls or boys, they can be so mean and you find them in every decade.

    I'm a House Mistress for over 20 years and the things some kids are capable of doing are very scary.

    I enjoy your stories and I thank you for dropping on me every day. :)

    Happy weekend! It's Friday here in Singapore. :)

  23. Hello,
    as usual a nice one, well being mean is a part of growing up. but it reduces as you grow.Do keep writing..

  24. Very well written excellent article on a subject I would not have thought about writing about because you do relate laughter to good cheer and joy, but have been in your shoes, and apparently had forgotten the pain that it can bring.

    Once again, excellent article, and I love your writing style.

    Best Wishes

  25. I love your writing and empathize with your experience (at 12 I was the only white kid at a jr/sr high school on an Indian reservation). Keep up the great content!

  26. I too knew girls like that at school in the 1950's. I just love reading your stories and drawing on your life experience. What a talented lady you are. Can you post a photograph of yourself please, so that I know who I am listening to?
    Love Sandie (uk)

  27. you can put some high paying ads on your pictures that only appear when the mouse scrolls over them.

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  28. Hello,
    wish you a beautiful Sunday,Grandma Julia.

    Best regards

  29. I can't find your EC here so I will just leave my footprints...anyway you have an nice story.

  30. wow, those girls are really mean. hopping, dropping and reading here. :)

  31. Ohhh! The meanest girls in town!
    I was carried back to the time your story happened. You tell your stories as if it's happening right here and now. I got so affected that I wanted to hit all the mean girls in your life before. They were absolute brats! What rights do they have treating you like the way they did?


  32. I left you a comment but I don't know hy it's no ere anymore...?

    Just said long time no see, missed your stories, and honored to be one of your references! :)

    keep up he great story telling and drop by my blog some time :)

  33. Hi Grandma Julia, I'm just one of an avid readers of your blog, I really love the way you write..I have a simple award for you..I hope you can visit my blog too...

  34. I love that you have this ability to write such wonderful stories and then you are so gracious to share them with all of us! Keep up the good work! Happy July, Hot one that it is!!

  35. You write so beautifully, it felt as if I was right there with you when it happened. I'm sorry it happened though. I've had my fair share of being at the butt of jokes and unwelcome attention from "mean girls" being the geek that I was in school. If only kids knew then what we know now...

    Keep writing, Grandma Julia!

  36. You have a nice way with words. Very good writing.


  37. Such a thought provoking post. This is my first visit to your blog, but rest assured not the last.

    The social kaleidoscope of school, both public and private, seems to bred bullies. There were plenty of mean kids in my school, boys and girls, and they always seemed to be from the "well to do" families. Why is it that money seems to breed the "better than thou" mentality, especially if children.

    I loved the paragraph on your culture, and how things were when you "shared" a meal with someone. It should be like that everywhere.

  38. There is magic in your writings :)

  39. hey thanks so much for advertising on my site through entercard, just to let you know i bookmark every site that does advertise on my site through ec and i drop on them every day, thanks again
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  40. more post please, really great to read article like this.

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  42. can i have exchange links with you?

  43. Wow, I just clicked your site through EC and now I am getting hook to it.Grandma Julia thanks for sharing your stories. Love it! Love it! Take care...

  44. Thanks for sharing :) I loved this line!

    "Their laughter was just magical. It was enchanting. It conjured the image of a bird in flight; of a butterfly emerging out of its cocoon. It was a laughter of freedom."

  45. Wow, it would be so fine to meet you eye-to-eye and to dream over a cup of coffee listening to the wondrous music of the silence! ...
    Thank you for the warmth that radiates from your writing. Your post reveals your heart and only possible reply is my hearty thank you for the fellowship.
    while writing with the dictionary in hand I am hard to talk nice , but that's the truth - you are my most precious guest. All my blogs heartily welcome you. Just listen to what the canvases talk.
    Thanks once again.

  46. Very much like Charmed...

  47. Lovely story, thanks for sharing =)