Growth

As a child, I went through a very brief period of childhood before I was thrust into a world where monsters are not only very real, but a constant factor I had to face. I lived in Haiti for the first six years of my life, although that time period sometimes reappears in the foggy haze, there are some parts that appear with intense clarity. I got my first lesson in pain and shame during my first few years of school. I did not know this but there was a deep hatred of left-handed people in Haiti. It was seen as the Devil’s hand and there was no tolerance for this “illness”. Everyone had to write with their right hands. Unbeknownst to me, I would see how far this hatred spread as soon as my first week of school. The teacher would beat the Devil out of me with her ruler and her sharp words. “Imbecile! Retard! Stupid!” I was made an example of every time I forgot to use my right hand. I looked to my family for support and cried about how the teacher would pick on me every day but saw that even they felt ashamed about my “condition.” They felt it was necessary so I shut my mouth and took the beatings until finally, I stopped forgetting. By the time I boarded a airplane to come to the United States in 2006, I was ambidextrous. A talent sought by many but forced upon me.

When it was my time to go to school in America, I was a jumbled mess of nerves. I was accidentally put in the wrong grade and had to sit down on a reading mat where I would be observed by those who were my classmates for that day. I turned to the small library of books in the corner in an effort to avoid their stares, and I picked up a random book. I, of course, had no idea of the title or the words and felt extreme frustration within the first few minutes because I could not understand a word. After a while of pretending, I took a break to observe an American classroom. I almost fainted when I observed students using their left hand openly, and not in secret. I was even more shocked to see the teacher’s indifference to it. I remember my excitement thinking America was really the land of the free! After my schedule was fixed, I entered ESL with a fire and passion in my body. I was determined to build the courage to use my left hand in public and learn how to read to prove that my worth. If kids could write with their left hands here in America then so would I. My little hands balled into fists as I swore revenge on all of those who made me feel inferior.

I devoted my whole time to my studies and was able to pass ESL within a year, a big feat in my head. My heart was bursting to tell my family. I told my family, and their response was laughing and patting me on the head and saying that maybe I wasn’t as stupid as they had. My little heart broke all over again. I remember crying to myself that night. All my hard work wasn’t good enough and my plans of revenge had backfired. That whole summer, I poured my heart into books, my only friends in the world. I stumbled upon a familiar book and picked it up, realizing that it was the one that I had pretended to read on my first day of class, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Finishing that book brought whale-sized tears to my eyes. For the first time, I actually felt good about myself without the validation of others. I acknowledged my own accomplishments. From that day forth I forgot about my revenge and simply did things for me. I saw the value of hard work from my year of studies and held on to that principle ever since. Arming myself with the knowledge I gained from my books, I vowed to never allow anyone to demean me again. If I feel that I’m not getting the proper education, then I go out and teach myself. No longer relying on others, I have gained a strong sense of independence and confidence in myself.

This poem is about: 
Me

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