I grew up, went to school with some of the rowdiest kids in town.
Demon-Town, where I grew up, is seen as the ghetto of Rita. As kids, we saw the back road as ours. Cars driving by were unfortunate as we’d hopped onto their bumpers and see who could hold on the longest, only getting off when the car entered the main road again. Some falling, hurting themselves badly, blood even spilled. Days would pass when cars would not drive in our back road because of that.
Or the annual wars between the girls and the boys. We’d ninja our way to our schools, preferably in groups. If I was caught alone by a group of boys, I was done for. They would chase me and once caught, beat me up. And vice-versa.
We’d anger drivers as we took over the roads chasing after one another or running away from each other. Punches, high kicks, hair pulling would launch once you reached someone. One time, us girls had angered one of the boy’s leaders so badly, he chased after us with vengeance. We knew we had to run for our lives.
Only one girl was caught and since it was outside my house, I saw all the boys had surrounded her as my cousin, the angered leader, kept flying at her with punches and knee kicks.
So great was my fear, I knew the only way we had out of this was to beg for forgiveness, apologise, and surrender if we got caught. Which few of my friends and I did couple days later. Except they made me speak because I was after all the cousin.
Or our boys against the other towns boys. If the boys would hold back against us girls, their brutality came out now. Us girls would run to the sea wall, sit, and watch the fight below us on the beach. We’d cheer for our boys as beer bottles left on the beach would be grabbed to hit the next head, the first sight of blood. Black eye on another as they are relentlessly pummeled in the face.
During this time, no boys would be caught alone in the enemies town. The sorry state they will be in once they are dealt with. Of course, this would anger their town and later that day, all the boys from the offended town march into the offenders town and fight ensues with no mercy.
Then came my schools, all infamous for their “ri-nana” (one who does bad things) students. Going into Majuro Middle School, if a bad incident happened on campus, it was not uncommon to hear teachers go, “Oh, are they from RES (Rita Elementary School)?” My former school always the first and almost always were they right.
Then I attended Marshall Islands High School, and again the same story. Another incident happens and I hear again, “Oh, are they from MMS (Majuro Middle School)?” Everyone would nod as the sighs of disappointment sat in the room.
We were ill-tempered, rebellious, and destructive. Kids parents would not want their kids to hang out with. Amongst us, my friends and I were seen favorably by the teachers because we were school smart. Grade A students who submitted their assignments on time.
Little did they know, my friends were lauded for their sailor’s mouth. And I was their apt pupil. There would be competitions on who could curse the best. We’d all gather together as our eyeballs swing from one opponent to the other as they toss out their most filthiest and creative curse at each other. My friends always won.
Very few would try to cross my circle of friends. Not only would they not hold back their slaps and punches but we were equally protective of each other. The times I had to downplay a situation of distress. Otherwise my boy friends would gang up on that person.
People latched onto their side of us they saw, choosing to turn blind towards factors that could have contributed to it. Nothing can excuse all that we did as majority were not right. Except, we had no one to guide us. We all came from broken households.