“Look, maybe there’s another way we can settle this! Isn’t this going a little too far?”
“Just hearing you talk makes me want to smash your face in!”
He served a firm strike to my lower abdomen. A gasp for air ended up becoming a gag, which transformed into a ball of saliva and today's lunch exiting my mouth almost forcefully. It hit the ground and splashed over the circulation of the feet around me. As his grip on my jacket loosened, the “flight” response in my head had overtaken my body, and I ended up home in less than a minute.
I reached for the handle as I heard my dad talking continuously with someone over the phone. I wanted to get inside as quickly as possible to tell him what had happened. I wanted him to know so he could be the father I dreamed of. The kind whose muscles bursted out of their shirts when they heard that their son had been bullied by a group of kids. I was excited to see that side of my dad for the first time. I burst through the door, my body aching from my previous endeavours.
“Yeah, I know! My son sounds like a real white man! Now all he needs is a-”
The sound of my dad was interrupted with the slam of our front door. I stepped inside, soaking wet with rain and vomit covering my body. Every breath heaved at my chest, dragging me down into the futon.
“Hey there, Sam. How was your day? Oh, yeah! Your grandma’s calling us from the plant! Come say hi!”
My grandparents worked in a plant in the Port of Tianjin. They grew up in a world filled with those like themselves, and didn’t know the world for what it was. They could only gain a few glimpses of outside reality from specific examples of media. Their views of race and social status were influenced solely on that. And it rubbed off onto everyone who they have connected themselves to, and it spread like wildfire. Their indifference to language shows how much they actually know about it.
“Hi, Grandma”, I said unenthusiastically. My breathing was often interrupted by hard whooping coughs from the pulsing of my lower body from the massive blow I received earlier.
“Oh my goodness! You sound like a ‘man’ now, huh?”, she chuckled.
My dad held in his cackling handed the phone back to my dad, clutched my bag handle, and headed upstairs in the blink of an eye. In that moment, the events that I believed I could escape at school stalked and fixed itself to my own house. I couldn’t escape the cryptic descriptions of the way I talk. The thought of ripping out my vocal reeds from my throat spun around my head until I fell asleep. “Tomorrow will be better”, I thought to myself, trying to flee the position than the voice gods had put me in. I was in a hell that caused me to be someone I'm not. Someone who I don't want to be.
“The tragedy is that you have to twist the knife in your own gray matter to make this defense work.” Adapting to the places that you are in is the only only way out of situations that you don’t want to be in. You have to attempt to make amends with a new persona to add to your arsenal if you don't feel comfortable in a certain location. You'll have to shut down. You’ll have to reject intellectual stimuli or diffuse them with sarcasm. You’ll have to “cultivate stupidity.” “You’ll have to convert boredom from a malady into a way of confronting the world.”