“To fight, you have to get yourself dirty.” George Orwell says that, but who wants to be dirty? We all want to be as clean, tidy, and pretty as we can, and often we worry that we are not clean, tidy and pretty enough. There are certain movies which can combine prettiness with a fighting scene, but that’s always staged. Not only that, it is probably shot 100 times with 10 supporting staff of various kinds–that’s not real life.
In real life, I am very lay back and I dislike fighting. However I fought with a girl once in middle school–6th grade. In my hometown, we start school at age 7 and primary school is only for five years. By 6th grade, at age 13, we are in middle school. My mother at the time was determined to move the family south, although my father and I preferred north. I especially loved the arid climate of the steppe and the cold air coming down from Mongolia and Siberia–it must be my Mongolian gene that’s speaking up.
So we moved south to a semi-rural area. My father worked in the local coal mine while my mother taught English to unenthusiastic adult students who needed to pass English tests get promotions. I disliked this move and disliked the new place. The climate is more humid than what I was used to. But most annoying of all, I was away from friends I grew up with and had to make an effort to start new friendship.
I soon gained two or three friends. I don’t have any attraction to boast about–a book worm can only exist at the end of the popularity spectrum, but I am very good with math and helping others with math homework was my tool to attract new friends. Our math homework was very heavy and it would be a burden to somebody who’s not good at it.
Among the new friends, only one was a boy who’s not shy of talking with girls, probably because he has two sisters. Or probably he’s a gay. I don’t know the reason and I can’t explain why he’s so friendly with girls. All the other boys were avoiding girls. And unbeknown to me, my arrival has somehow attracted him away from Lanlan, who’s the girl he grew up with. It’s no surprising. The math homework was so heavy and he needed better help, which he could get from me.
Lanlan was the leader of a girl clique of three or four members. Her father was a retired army officer with connections and she often came to school wearing better clothes and holding new gadgets. She was not happy with me and she’s not afraid to show it. Although she didn’t mention the boy at all, I suspected that the boy was the reason. She pushed me once or twice and did damage to my chair and desk–we had fixed seating. I fought back and we soon started little trivial skirmishes day in and day out. Then one day, for certain reason which I’ve already forgotten what it was by now, we faced each other squarely in the school hallway. She had her little clique of two girls behind her, egging her on while I was with two or three acquaintances. I was really scared. I knew I was not her match–she’s the same height as me, but she has bigger bone structures and looks stronger. Anybody who knew her would say she could beat two of me combine. Suddenly I had an idea. If I were to have any advantage at all, it would be to rush towards her and push her, probably even to the ground, using the force of impact before she was prepared. So I rushed towards her to execute my battle plan. Much to my surprise, she was startled and jumped away right before I could reach her, leaving me to crash with the wall. I was happy to see that she’s even more scared of me than I was of her.
At the dinner table that night, my parents talked about my school in a very strange way. My mother was always in her various scheme to cure her insomnia and anxiety, while my father was usually in his planning of getting away with a business trip to somewhere else. Since they rarely talked about my school or me unless something seriously wrong had happened, I felt very strange that they would talk this way, as if they wanted to induce me to talk about my school. I refused to oblige and kept my silence. However I thought my little school feud might have been reported by other students to their parents, who would undoubtedly talk with my mother. Her sense of family “face” was more important than anything else. She might have felt that the “face” was threatened by my action and she wanted to order me to do something about it. Whatever she wanted me to do must be bad for me–that had always been my conclusion since age five.
So I finished my dinner without saying anything and pretended to go to my desk to do my homework, but I couldn’t calm down. I was too agitated and couldn’t concentrate. Finally, I thought of going out for a stroll to calm myself down. It was in June and it was still hot and bright outside after 7PM. So I went out and walked around. My tormentor’s home was very close to where I lived and for some strange reason, I walked up the stairs of her building. I didn’t know why I did what I did–probably to confront her in front of her parents? Anyway, it was summer time and the door and the windows were open. Only the screen door was shut to keep insects away. I heard people inside talking at the dinner table. My tormentor was talking in a very weak and terrified voice and her father’s voice was quite loud–he was scolding her while her mother, in a voice similar to hers but older– was trying to stop her father. I couldn’t make out what it was really about. Probably they were talking about our feud or probably not. I couldn’t tell.
I stepped away and went downstairs. I felt so lucky. My parents were no angels, but at least they were civilized non-angels. My father would rather go his merry ways, but he would never scold me like a bully. I felt sorry for my tormentor who was terrorized by her father. Poor girl.