It was year 1991, I was ONLY 11 years old, in year 6 class at Nalanda College, Colombo 10, guided by class teacher Mr. Gamini Perera.
The batch size had vastly increased due to scholarship students who came from other schools to our school. Also, the behaviour of all the boys, both old and new students had changed, relative to my own behaviour. Their language was foul, and they were obsessed with each other’s privates. It was quite common to hit, tap, or, squeeze another’s genitals or joke about it. Me being a late bloomer, which I figured out later in life, had no idea what anyone was on about, and I hated it!
One day, Mr. Hagodaarachchi, who was a well built science teacher, who had a deep voice, and all of us were shit scared of, came to the class during a free period (the teacher would have been absent), asking us whether any of us wanted to go see a Magic Show, shown in the College New Auditorium, Malalasekara Hall, and claimed he has two tickets left. All of us were too scared, so no one raised the hand.
Later, my very good friend Kasun, and I, decided to go speak to him, and get the tickets.
Off we ran to the Malalasekara Hall, he was an athlete, I couldn’t keep up, so he continued to slow down for me. All of my friends teased me a lot, which I hated. They called me names like “Girl”, “Woman”, “My Lady”, “Marian”, “GirlyBoy”, “My Fair Lady”,. Etc. But, on the flip side, they all cared for me, saved me from accidents, attended if I was physically hurt, guided me to avoid physically violent fights, and slowed down when needed. One such friend was Kasun.
When we went to the hall, the prefects who guarded the door were directing students to go different directions. I was already unsure how the system worked, as some in front of us, and behind us, were sent to the ground floor, where the two of us and others were directed to the balcony. Same story happened when we were upstairs. Some were directed to front rows, and we were directed to the last row. I also noticed that there were other Ayyas (elder brothers), other than prefects at the door.
The show started, and in front of us were adults, I believed to be mothers and fathers of some of the kids. We who sat at the last row, couldn’t see a thing. So we sat on the arm of the chair. All of us kids, who were sitting at the last row did this. Then came those Ayyas (elder brothers), who weren’t prefects, but friends of prefects, who were standing at the door. All of them asked different kids, including myself if it was ok to sit on the now empty chair, as we were occupying the arm of the chair, and not the chair. All of us said “Yes”, as sharing was caring!
Someone sat on the left seat, but the seat on the right was empty. The one on the left, later I found out was Thennakoon Ayya, who was in year 12 or year 13, in the Commerce section, his class was in the opposite building of the school Dental building. So he would have been 17, 18 or 19 years of age.
He was very tall, dark, and had a very kind voice. Something in his presence comforted me. A while later, his large hand was kept on the arm of the chair, which was now my left thigh, as I was occupying the arm of the chair. He asked for permission, and I said “Yes”, as I actually liked the warmth of his large hand, a sense of comfort. I also liked how he smelled. I guess, it was his pheromones, now I understand. A little later, I could feel his hand move upwards, very very slowly. I felt my heartbeat gets fast, and I was getting somewhat naucious. But, a part of me wanted to see what was going on. His fingers were now on my fly, and he unzipped my pants. His large hands slid in, and now cupped my tiny genitals of a 11 year old boy. I was frozen, I still didn’t say “No”, I was feeling naucious, but I wanted to see what he was doing. That’s when he called another Ayya saying this place is good, and invited him over, in my native language:
මෙතන හරි මචං, වරෙං!
Another Ayya came and sat on my right with his less large hand on my right thigh.
I got scared! I then remembered my friend, looked at his seat, and he wasn’t where he sat. I got more scared, if that was even possible! I stood up, zipped up, walked towards the door, only to find Kasun standing at the door.
He asked me whether something happened to me, and said it happened to him too, and said let’s tell our friends, in my native language:
උඹට මුකුත් වුනාද? මටත් වුනා. අපි පන්තියට ගියාම කියමු.
He also proceeded to show that some of the students, some of whom we knew very well, allowed what happened to proceed, and things went on. We didn’t judge, but we saw it.
Then came the intermission. We went downstairs, and we saw our friends Harith, and Thivanka. Harith was my very good friend, but Thivanka teased me a bit too much for me to like him. But that day, he treated me like a princess. He asked me what happened, he got me to sit next to him downstairs, comforting me, saying we will find him and beat him up. He also advised me how to protect oneself from Loku Ayyas. For the first time, I really liked him. This hockey player, who was in my view an 11 year old thug, had flipped 180 degrees, for someone who was scared and shocked.
When we went back to class, the entire class found out. And some of us went back to the upper school. That’s how I found out his name, and class. Later I found out that he in fact lived close to me, in Malabe, Sri Lanka.
No one was told. No teachers, no parents. We appeared to have managed it, but;
How many more fell into the same traps?
Did Thennakoon and friends proceed with their act even after school years?
Did the other kids cope?
What has happened to them?
Looking back, although my friends’ constant teasing and bullying affected me emotionally long term, I actually love them. I can see that the teasing and bullying was their ignorance. They always were there for me when needed. Thank you my beautiful friends. May you learn your little mistakes, and teach your children to be even better.
Please don’t take this as a standard for my lovely school and please don’t insult my school. This happens in most schools, I later found out. Not many discuss it like me. Our teachers were great, our fascilities were great, my friends were great. What I’ve written is not limited to our school. It’s a problem within our so called culture. There is no proper sex education, and especially most parents and children do not talk about this topic. Therefore, children automatically gets into the hands of such perpetrators. Sex education is not just about reproduction. It has to be about variants of gender and sexuality. It has to be about child abusers, and where one needs to protect themselves. Also, in due time, parents need to understand, children will want to experiment, as it’s natural with the hormone changes. Restrictions made to this natural feeling, easily places them in the hands of adult perpetrators, instead of peer play mates. So teach them safe sex, other ways of releasing their tension created by hormone changes, and protect them from people who don’t know who children are. I hope my message through my true story is received with love.
– Nim –