They didn’t consult me, nobody ever did. At least I knew where I stood in the family chain. First, from the bottom of the very bottom. The sacrificial lamb had been chosen and we all knew who it was going to be. Keeping up with Kampalas elite didn’t come cheap. Neither where the international school kid fees or the driver, cook and cleaner for that matter. But Fuck. While it was slightly encouraging to realise my sister would be the sole inheritor to everything a.k.a nothing. A more immediate concern was avoiding getting acquainted with the local greater London toilet water. That’s what the bullies did in nonfee paying schools right? Maybe they wouldn’t notice me. Maybe I could blend in. Like a chameleon just one with a big fat Ugandan accent.
The first day at ‘normal’ school. My apprehension tempering on the brink. If I told you there was anything other than bricks coming out of my arse I would be lying. Focus, just be a chameleon. Blend in. Walking down the corridor doing my best impression of a wall. Suddenly a group of three females brazenly cackled as they approached from the opposite direction, they were pointing and theatrically signaling to each other as I apprehensively made my way down the corridor and into their territory. Are they laughing at me? How could they see me? maybe it was someone else.
“Look at the state of him.” The big one with massive hooped earring hissed confirming the worst.
Not only had I been spotted but id also been misidentified. Together they giggled. The irony. Factually incorrect in any case, there are not that many hyenas in Uganda. Furthermore, hyenas are so fucking misunderstood. Super-efficient, fucking bad-ass predators. In need of a new PR company. Quite like me, in fact, maybe she was on to something. Benefits and doubts I reasoned.
However, shortly thereafter in my first lesson another strange fellow with a face straighter than his mum’s chest(i was learning quickly) genuinely took time out of his day to ask if I saw lions on the way to school. I began to wonder about these people. Yes mate, that’s definitely what happened, some people didn’t make it to school every day. It was a fucking lottery making morning assembly. Either way, it didn’t affect me too much, couldn’t see that far down below from the giraffe I was cruising in on. They honestly thought id just rocked up from the set of the lion king.
By some Rafiki miracle, I’d survived it through to lunch. Coming out into the playground was daunting. All one thousand two hundred of them. The most obvious segregation of races was the first thing I noticed. What the fuck is this. Mini colonialism. The brown people together on one side with the whites and a handful of black people gathered on the other. What about me? Confusing. Brown on the outside raised in Indian culture yet I’d identified with the white England football team my whole life but spoke with an African accent. This shit was difficult. Eventually, I settled on an inconspicuous spot on the outskirts in no man’s land. Surely, I’ll be safe here.
That one millisecond of complacency. Always that one fucking millisecond. Although I didn’t see the first few punches being thrown. Hardly difficult to miss the next twenty rain down on this poor kid’s bloody and bruised face. Fucking savages. I’d never seen anything like this. No time to dwell too much, As another sporadic fight broke out nearby. Immediately the crowd chanting in a possessed trance baying for blood circled, creating an impromptu amphitheater surrounding the new gladiators about to do battle.-
A fight in international school usually meant a few handbags a few harsh words and a lot of grappling followed by some tears and hugs to make up. Never any coordinated strikes, definitely never any blood. EVER. This was fucking antiquated, vicious, and violent and yet at the same time, it was so very compelling.
For fuck sake. Fucking complacency again. This time it had struck where it hurt. Someone had opportunely pushed me into the arena. The new kid minding his own fucking business. Brilliant. Cheers.
Several voices imploring at me to punch the unpopular fighter ringing in my ears. This was my initiation. I’d seen it in the movies. It all starts here. Just punch him. For a fleeting second, I thought about all the glory and the bitches but the overwhelming fear ensured I did what respectable people do. Fucking run. How had it come to this? These people were fucking monsters. How was I going to survive for the rest of my life?
As expected, the rest of the week didn’t get any better. Aside from the stuff thrown at me in class, property vandalised, toilet mishaps from fear, and get threatened to be given a grandad. What the fuck was a grandad. By the look on this older kids’ face id rather not know. However, when someone mocked the shoes and jacket I was wearing. That fucking hurt to my very core man. At international school, if I said something was cool, it was cool. End of story. My point is we had no way of telling. How the fuck I supposed to know that admiring Brian Littrell’s musical talents was the gayest thing in the world. Id never really felt the pressure to be like anyone else or to conform.
A teacher, recognising my struggles, placed me with a prominent member of Indian brotherhood to aid with my protection. He was cool but understandably didn’t want my backstreet boys loving ass cramping all over his style. Thankfully, I’d spent so much of my childhood watching and playing football as well. It’s kind of crazy there are more televised Premier League matches in Kampala then England. Unreal, I knew more than them. Reluctantly, on the weekend as there were a few football games on, he invited me over to watch. Wouldn’t embarrass him in public that way but that was fine by me. 100% of zero friends are still zero friends.
At some point during the half time break, whilst gazing around the room a particular photo caught my eye. This was mainly because it was a primary school photo from the school I went to before my parents had decided to upgrade me to the glamorous world of fee-paying schools and a few years before my family had moved to East Africa. Would you fucking believe it? There was no mistaking either of us, stood next to each other, both rocking out in our full ninja turtle outfits. He still had the turban. We go way back. I’d forgotten my roots, the king is back. What the actual fuck was seriously going on.
Things drastically improved for me after I had a well-respected ally. Donatellesh and Leonardeep. Dream fucking team reunited. By improved, meant singing songs to please the people in my thick Ugandan accent. Shaggy, ‘girl you are my angel’ was a local crowd favourite. They couldn’t get over it, an Indian kid, in London, talking like African. People would be rolling on the floor. Definitely at me. But that was cool.
Motherfucking angels come in all shapes and sizes, my own one happens to have a black turban and supports Leeds.