In life, you are either a child or step-child of good fortune. When I was eight years old, I always felt like the latter. That’s because every day I would go to school, I would have life’s sand thrown in my eyes.
Then, as a blind man walking, I would be beaten up by a gang of godless bullies.
Before you call me a wimp; there were six of them and one of me.
To be sure, they were like an outlaw motorcycle gang I had seen in the movies: leather jacketed heavies, clad in road dust and turning every bar into a brawl.
But the difference here is that these guys were twinkle-eyed, puppy-cute kids who didn’t ride motorbikes on the open road, but instead preferred to make it open season on kicking my behind. It is as if they thought they had to come to school every day just to teach me a lesson. Because without fail, these kids would beat me to a pulp.
And they did this so skilfully that they would never leave even the slightest wound or scar on my person.
So if I told anyone that I was receiving a routine beat down, they would think I was a crying wolf.
I am not sure why they hated me. These certainly weren’t racially motivated attacks, since two of their society were Black.
Plus, I don’t think I was that annoying. Sure, I liked to play the fart game as much as the next kid, so this couldn’t have made me a pain.
Okay, I did have those purple bell bottoms that my mom bought for me, but these kids weren’t fashion innocents either.
Remember, we were all kids, so we were bound to be fashion criminals, since our parents couldn’t reach across the generational gap to dress us up-to-the-minute stylish.
Really, why these kids hated me was a mystery to me at the time.
It confused me the same way as when, as a kid, I would see dogs with their tongues hanging out of their open mouths while panting… were the dogs actually panting or just laughing, I would ask confusedly.
Anyway, these kids were a tough crew. There was Mark; he was the kid to whom my sad tears were but a gleam to his eye, a sadist.
Then there was Keith, the gerbil-cheeked dude with oddly pencil-line fingers and Chuck Norris round house kicks.
Also involved were Niall and Alistair, the evil twins. Austin was the leader of the pack and proud owner of a whispery, breathless Clint Eastwood twang and quick fire wit.
Then there was John. This dude was the fatal arrow in the quiver of the group’s collective armory.
He was the ‘hardest’ kid in the school.
Rumor had it that he turned a schoolboy into an ‘unidentified flying object’ with an uppercut punch that sent him rocketing skyward.
He had such raw strength that even our teachers feared him.
This gang made it their mission to put me out of commission… until one day…. things changed forever.
One Saturday, I was watching television with my elder brother Martin, and an advert on Dr Martens shoes came on the box. It was one of those commercials that got your blood bubbling over with excitement and offered a money-back guarantee that your full-blooded satisfaction would stay at boiling point. I watched it with single-eyed interest.
When it was over, I wanted a pair of those shoes.
My brother, also gripped by the hosannas sang in the advert, turned to me eagerly and said he could get me a pair.
How, I asked, champing at the bit.
My brother then led me solemnly to our shared bedroom, where he reached deep under his bed and came up with two large black shoes. These are Dr Martens, he offered.
My eyes opened, goggle-like, as I instinctively reached out to grab hold of them, but my brother pulled back with a smug smile.
He then asked me what I knew about these sacred shoes. Without taking my eyes off the shoes, I relayed exactly what the advert had told us earlier.
My brother shook his head and then went on to give me his spiel on the ‘true’ value of the shoes.
According to him, the shoes could collapse buildings with a single kick. These big black shoes were the real Incredible Hulk, he taught.
He banged on for about 10 minutes in this vein, praising the shoes to the heavens.
All the while, I listened with open mouthed shock at what these shoes could do, and at the end of his lecture, my bro rewarded my attentiveness by handing me the shoes.
The handover was like a rite of passage.
When I held them, they seemed to glow with a mysterious power enough to make the sky erupt with thunder as the clouds summoned the rain. Some great power had been unleashed.
I knew then that my life was about to change forever, in the next few days I would champion my own liberation from those dastardly ruthless bullies.
I am not sure why they hated me. These certainly weren’t racially motivated attacks, since two of their society were Black. Plus, I don’t think I was that annoying. Sure, I liked to play the fart game as much as the next kid, so this couldn’t have made me a pain.