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Where It All Began

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At my school in Dharamsala, India, we started our week with an event called “Monday Presentation.” During Monday Presentation, students in the class who were presenting got an opportunity to share skits, news, and poems with our fellow classmates and the faculty. I was in the fourth grade. As usual, we had our morning assembly at 8:45 a.m., but that day it was my class’s turn. Monday’s presentation began with the physical education teacher blowing his whistle, which made everybody in the crowd get in our own class lines.
Our Monday Presentation was going well with some minor errors here and there made by my classmates. Then it was my turn. I was presenting a nursery rhyme with two other girls. We stood on the mini-cement stage as the morning sun was shining in our eyes. I could feel butterflies inside my stomach. My palms were sweating, and my knees were weak. My tongue was turning dry. One of us was supposed to start, but all we did was spend three minutes nudging each other.
While the two other girls and I continued to nudge each other on the stage, there was a moment of awkward silence. I felt like I was trapped in my own dream that I couldn’t wake myself out of. As I stood there, the cold breeze of silence blew against my face as my body turned numb, my emotions senseless, and my mind lost. We stood there frozen on the stage. A few second passed by as our audience became unengaged and the headmaster turned impatient. Then, wearing a mad face, he asked us to move off stage. All three of us were sharing a guilty feeling of failing as we blamed each other for the incident.
The next day, we learned that our class teachers had heard about the incident. Our first class session was with Miss Kalsang. Everyone in the class stood up and greeted her like we did every day. Before she started to teach, she walked toward the area where we were sitting and asked all three of us girls to kneel on our desks. I figured we would be punished, but I was wondering how severe the punishment would be. The smell of her perfume was getting stronger and stronger as she stepped closer to pinch me on my inner thigh area. The couple of seconds under her punishment felt like hell, and I was humiliated. My racing mind couldn’t help but suspect that those evil witches we read about in fairy tales had long, trimmed, and polished nails like hers. She finished pinching all three of us on our inner thighs and told us this punishment was for ruining our class’s Monday Presentation.





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