From the Little Country to Big City

January 8, 2008
By Mercedes Robinson, Inkster, MI

The inside of the bus was hot and dusty and had that bitter, stale smell only sweat has. As always I was sitting in the front of the bus, where all the student counsel members, the band members, and the chemistry club sit. It was nothing new to me. This is what I have been accustomed to doing ever since I could remember. I guess I can’t complain that much, this way I can get a better view of Times Square - as if I hadn’t gotten a chance to see it for the last nine years.

At school, I have a daily routine. It initially starts off as me forgetting my lunch on the bus, getting badgered at school by all the deadbeats, then later on someone stealing my homework so they can get full credit for something they didn’t even do.

I must say that I’m not used to the states yet. It was a tough move for mama and me just moving here from Somalia. I moved here when I was seven, and mama was eighteen. Back home, everything smelled of freshly baked rice with a side of homemade bread. My favorite class back home was art. I wasn’t the best, but I know for sure that I could beat out many of those kids when it comes to drawing. Home was perfect, especially compared to New York City.

Now that I am here in the city, everything seems so mutant. You see buses everywhere you turn, not only that, but girls here are so extreme, so materialistic. Not to point any fingers, but her name is Kate. I can’t stand her! Every single day at roughly 8:15, she will call out, “Kenye! You gots yo homework, girl?”

“No, Kate, I accidentally forgot it at home. Sorry.”

“Then what’s that in yo hand?” She gives a disgusted face towards me and grabs the homework like it is the last slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. “Now, don’t you play that card on me again you monkey lookin’ African!”

Although this may be surprising to all the nosey people encircling our conversation, it was only another concept of my routine. At first it peeved me, but then I finally realized, “Hey, this is my opportunity to actually fit in at this school, and to finally be someone.” I have never had the opportunity to be someone here at Jefferson High. Everyone at this school is bloated with money. And if you aren’t, then your only chance of being cool is by being a football player, or dating a football player. I wasn’t close to either of those. I am a chubby little African girl who you can’t even see unless I smile. I can’t even speak English without stuttering. No one else can relate to me in the school. Not even if they tried.

In the beginning of the school year, everything was going smoothly. No one talked to me, but that’s better than people picking on me. Months later, I forgot to do my homework. I thought it was no big deal. The only person it would have harmed was me. Of course, I wasn’t considering Kate. How rude of me. Kate stormed up to me once again and demanded my homework.

“Where’s my homework tramp?”

I could not believe that she of all people called me a tramp. What are the chances of that? “Sorry, Kate. I forgot to do my homework last night; I promise I’ll never do it again.”

“You think I’m stupid or something? Give-me-the-homework.”
She thought I was lying even when I told her over and over again that I didn’t do it. So what does that streetwalker do? She punches me square in the face. My books go flying through the air like papers lost in the wind. My face falls to the dirty floor as my cheeks billow. Red is filling my face and dripping onto my brand new Somalia hoodie. I was furious. I surged to my feet and got in Kate’s face. The halls were filled with silence. I didn’t do anything. But just as she starts to walk away, I returned her the favor of embarrassment right back in her face. She didn’t fall to the ground like I did, but I made her do a 180. The charge that went through my body was like riding a rollercoaster for the first time.

Many teachers saw us and ended the feud. Both Kate and I were suspended for three days. Mama didn’t know what to do. She has never had to go through anything like this before. The only thing that she could think to do was rinse my mouth with soap and make me clean the bathroom with a toothbrush. It was not fun to say the least.

When I returned to school after being suspended for three lifeless days, everything seemed different. The way my peers looked at me. The way my teachers talked to me. The whole vibe all around me. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not; I wasn’t sure what to think.
Kate’s best friend, Alicia, walked up to me with an intimidating face. I thought she too wanted a piece of me now.

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