Sunday, 24 July 2011


On the very first day of my final year in primary school, I hit the proto-pubescent jackpot of being felt up. Rather than mark the genesis of my soon to burgeon sexuality, the incident was the first indicator that, despite popular opinion, I wasn’t gay. To my distress, I was felt up by a boy.

The class seating arrangement had been chosen at random. Year six harboured more serious pretensions than previous classes, so there were to be no more groups. Now it was strictly two per table, the pairings chosen, I can only assume, by how much the teacher hated each individual.

The boy I was seated with was not a friend of mine. Nor were we enemies, I knew him mostly for his fondness of riding around the neighbourhood on his bike no-handed and quite garishly topless. His assignment to me was neither a boon nor disappointment.

I soon discovered that he would laugh at any joke I cared to utter. No matter how stupid or inane, as I’m sure they all were at that age, the boy would laugh as if nothing were funnier. For a shameless class clown such as myself, it was all I could have asked for. The only problem was that every fit of laughter was accompanied by a hand on my leg.

At first it was only the knee. As the day progressed, the knee became the thigh. And alas, by day’s end the situation had progressed dangerously close to the crotch.

Initially I let it go. It was the start of the year. Perhaps it was a misguided mode of establishing a friendship. The assault persisted throughout the second day. And the third. What had been strokes turned into squeezes. I knew it had to stop.

At that tender age, I didn’t know why it made me feel so uncomfortable, only that it did. I was like a comely young maiden who had moved to the big city just at the time of her flowering, attracting new attention that I couldn’t understand.

There was only one escape: a painfully embarrassing admission to my mother.

‘Mum, the boy I sit next to keeps touching me.’

She answered more like an enthusiastic voyeur than my mother. ‘How does he touch you?’

It was enough at least to be taken seriously. The next day I marched into the classroom, straight to the teacher’s desk, and handed her a letter. I don’t know what it said. Possibly My son has become the class bitch. Whatever the content, I was swiftly assigned a new seat across the classroom, and some other poor soul took my place at the school’s equivalent of the prison shower.

Unsurprisingly, I did not remain friends with my abuser. But we did end up at the same secondary school. Here the significance of the incident paled during a bizarre spell where a group of the tougher kids (large black guys all) took to roughly grabbing the unsuspecting arses and crotches of the rest of us as we went about our daily business. If it had occurred to me at the time, perhaps I would have missed the softer caresses of my year six amour.

I still saw him from time to time, riding the streets with chest bared for all to see. Another boy had befriended him. They bonded over a love of cars, karate, and other such masculine pursuits. 

I spoke to this new beau once and mentioned his newfound companion.

‘Yeah, he’s really cool,’ the boy told me. ‘But he does touch me a lot.’

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