• eight; and the lamb met the lion •

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              E I G H T ; and the lamb met the lion

       BENEDICT ALEXANDER ANDERSON.

       My relationship with Anderson dated way back to Year Four when I first entered the school premises with puffed sleeves and knee length socks, accompanied by Mr. Bubbles— my teddy bear knapsack, only to be continued when my father enrolled me for competitive swimming under Coach Bennett. What could I say?  It was a start of a budding relationship.

       Not.

       I was what, people would call, a rhapsodic child. At the very outset, I was reigned by curiosity and enthusiasm. In the younger grades, it was marked by unremitting stream of raised hands, questions and affection from the teachers. In swimming class, it was evident with my love for Poseidon, endless tomfoolery and antics. But with his appearance, given that he was two years my senior, it subsided. Completely.

      From a mere 'bumlick'  in Year Four, 'crocadillapig'  in the fifth, 'debbie downer'  in Year Six, 'faggot'  in the eighth, 'beached whale'  from Year Nine till the eleventh , I couldn't have had a worse childhood. I'd always give points for his creativity, though. Without a doubt, his increasing harassment took a simultaneous toll on my physical as well as my mental well being. It was a chain reaction between truancy, decrease in standardized test scores, increase in anxiety and binge eating. Yahoo answers, documentaries and beer helped to an extent, but not for long. The school never took any action against him. His mother was the trustee, after all.

       Besides, I never complained.

       Before I could drown into the bottomless pool of stupor, Ajinkya realized what was happening. As a brother, he counselled me into ignorance, something that I was incapable of. Not the best of the methods, but given my personality, it sufficed. Eventually, the poisoned arrow of insults pierced a numb heart, I began responding to the negativity with words of endearment. Besides, it wasn't everyday someone had the honour of being called 'Lolita'. I'd grown up reading Vladimir Nabokov's classics. A book that I had cried a river over when he'd torn it into bits.

       But If I were to say that he, Anderson, was not Adonis— Taradale's very own Greek God of Beauty and Desire, I would have to be in denial. Major denial, in fact.

       Appearing to have been carved out of pure marble by Michelangelo Buonarroti himself— with his angular cheekbones, sculpted nose and piercing grey eyes: he was the epitome of perfection. Although the high school followed a strict uniform policy, he never seem to play by them. He was, according to the whole of the female population in our school, a bad boy.

      And bad boy, he was.

      Right from Year Nine, he was the receiver of tardies to detention, apathy to delinquency, from Miranda Warnings to Juvenile Court, he was the textbook definition of a bad boy. He had dabbled in vandalism, trespassing on private properties, and had entered enough fights that couldn't be counted on ten fingers anymore.

      But sadly, what the blind generation did not realize was his character. What never penetrated through the thick skull of theirs was the fact that when Michelangelo was about to bring him into being, there was a remaining slab of marble he didn't want to go to waste: a slab that got molded into a heart. A heart that didn't feel pity when harassing a young boy for carrying a purple water bottle, a heart that didn't empathize while tormenting his own colleagues based on their genes, religion or race. An unconscious soul that never conjectured, sympathized or caressed.  

      Everybody either kissed the grounds he walked on, or preferred not to come in harm's way. As of now, however, I had no clue if his behaviour continued to be the same.

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