I survived, and I’ll survive other things too

Author: Lucie Conkova
Location: Usti nad Labem
This happened about three years ago when I was a student at a Veterinary Senior High School in Hradec Kralove. It’s something that I will never forget.
I would have never expected HIM to say that, the country boy who sat just behind me. Though I had always been aware of his comments about Roms. It was as if he wanted to be Mr. Important in the class, and tried to reach this goal by hating us.
It was always very unpleasant when I happened to overhear what he said about Roms. And on his desk I saw terrible poems about us. He was a follower of Sladek. I did not and never will understand what made him that way: with all his A’s.
It was January 30th, and our physics class was almost over. He said to me – or rather I heard him say from behind me – , "What’s the point of teaching physics to this piece of shit?”
If he had said I was stupid, I could have taken it. But this was too much for me. I turned around and said to him: “OK. Now stand up and say that out loud in front of the teacher.”
He just sat there and pretended not to hear me. But then he turned to the guy sitting next to him and said: “Did you hear the piece of shit? I didn’t hear anything.”
The class was over. I turned and grabbed his hair and pushed his face against the wall. Then I packed up my stuff and went for lunch. I was embarrassed.
They were serving pasta with red sauce, which I love. But I kept seeing his disgusting face, and it made me want to throw up. I couldn’t eat lunch.
I went to see the head teacher and told her that I could no longer attend this racist school. Without waiting for her reaction, I walked out of her office, went to the dorm, packed and left for home.
And there was very bad news in Usti. My brother had died. My brother who had been a father to me since our parents’ divorce. It was a shock. Something broke in me. I lost something. And I can’t find it again. This isn’t me anymore: it’s just somebody who expects nothing more from her life than what she gets.
Meanwhile, what was happening at school? I had only four friends in our class. When the head teacher investigated, they made it sound as if nothing at all had happened. But the two class grinds stood up for me, and told the story.
Two months later when the directors of the school realized that I had given up, they sent a letter asking me to come back right away.
Did they solve my problems? The guy was still there. But they divided the class. I was in the first half, and all my friends were in the second. So I had to spend the rest of my time there in a class where I had no friends. I’ll never forget the eyes of other students in the dorms watching me pass by on my way to breakfast or dinner.
But I survived, and I’ll survive other things, too. Let’s not forget that Roms are born strong and die strong.

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