Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Confessions of a silver spooner

I was born with a silver spoon. I think I was fed from one. Can’t remember. I do remember my first years, though. I remember troubling those who came to help us at our (former) home. "Servants", I called them. I remember troubling my mother as well. But at the end of the day it didn’t matter. I was always fed. I wasn’t in want. Whatever trouble I caused, things would turn out just fine. So I did what others in my situation would have done. I caused some more trouble. Didn't matter. No problem. Why? Because of that silver spoon.

Time passed. I learned to read and write. There would have been kids my age who were more intelligent than I was. But it didn’t matter. See, I was born to everything and anything other kids my age couldn’t even dream of. I read and wrote and it didn’t matter that I had the best books money could buy or the best tutors my father could find. And why? That silver spoon, of course!

But then I turned six. Or was it seven? I can’t remember. I do remember my first day however. I remember the teacher interviewing me and I remember I got to impress her. She had a thing for me, I guess. I could see she scorned other kids, and I could see that as years would go by I would have to scorn them in turn. They just weren’t my type. No, I wasn’t taught to hate or dislike them. But I was taught to like and respect the big men. The big shots. I was supposed to be one of them.

This was what I learnt at school. There were kids who couldn’t speak in English and there were those horrible classmates who couldn’t put two words together. There were people who volunteered to help them. Some even volunteered to make friends out of them. We shunned them, however. We had other concerns. Like getting that latest card collection. Or salivating over that latest "franken-phone" some kid would stash in his bag and bring to class.

Other things just didn’t bother us. They certainly didn’t bother me.

Then we reached middle school. That was the best and the worst part. After all, it’s after you leave Fifth Grade that you start to wander more, to think more, indeed to be yourself more (whatever that means). Especially in school. So we thought and wandered more. We were taught not to differentiate others based on race or skin colour. All in the name of unity.

At the same time however, while celebrating this inclusiveness, we were (secretly) taught to differ from others based on who we were. The “silver spooners”. We didn’t have a club with that name but it seemed we did. To hell with race and religion, we thought, but keep those other distinctions. Intact.

We were born to be special, to put it shortly.

I saw how others suffered and thought to myself, “What losers!” No, we didn’t laugh at them whenever they slipped in class or angered the teacher (who for some reason favoured us, don’t ask me why). But we scorned them. In silence. We avoided them and pitied those from among us who helped them. We didn’t want anything to do with them. They couldn’t speak in English and my guess is that anyone who can’t speak it is an idiot. So off with their heads!

But then something happened. We slipped. To be more precise, my family slipped. We went down. My father’s finances weren’t in order. Naturally, we collapsed.

We didn’t feel it at first, of course. My father had run into some debts and we all wanted to see them through. But we had to cut. We had to prune. I was taken from my school (I was in Eighth Grade at the time) and put into another. I hated that the first day, I remember. Everything was different. The teachers didn’t favour “us”. They seemed to like the “other”. Since I was born with the expectation that everyone would bow down before me and my kind, I was put off. I got used to that of course, but how that happened is another story.

There were other things. Money, for instance. I wasn’t raised to expect it. I was born to get what I wanted. I was raised with the notion that people waited and indeed were happy to wait on me.

But then things changed. The servants left. Pity. I loved troubling them. They hated me but that’s how they got their money. I think they were happier to go away with no money than they were to earn it with me around. Anyway, I hated them. The feeling was mutual.

I hated not being treated apart from the rest. It took some time to get used to it, but I never learnt to love everyone else. At this school we weren't taught to (dis)like others based on race or skin colour, but that wasn't necessary because in the end everyone treated everyone else as equals. Naturally when this happened, the teachers seemed to tell us, everything else would follow and every “distinction” setting apart “us” from “them” would disappear. Well, that is what happened.

Not that I liked it one bit. The teachers treated us all like we were together. I knew we weren’t, that I was special and that I was raised with that notion in mind. They didn't encourage that line of thinking, though.

And today, I work. I earn my own (metaphoric) bread. I earn while at school. By writing. I write to papers about what and how I am. There’s always an audience for that. Those who read me think I’m a prodigy. That is because I’m still at school but can write like an academic (I make no bones about that, to hell with modesty!).

Besides, that’s the only way I can keep up what I know. I know English. I love that language more than anything else in the world. My new school doesn’t teach it as well as the previous one. Shame.

Still. Not everything’s bleak. Like I mentioned before, I have an audience. They read. They write to me. They express their sympathies and tell me that they too belong to that which I was once part of. Some disagree with what I write, of course, but they are a minority: those who think they can read and write in English but who really are wannabees.

I’m not one of them. I’m genuine. Honest. If I don’t want to trouble someone I admit it, but if I can't bear seeing my inferiors getting the better of me, I write and rant.

And why? Because I am a silver spooner.

Written for: The Nation FREE, June 27 2015