Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

I was eleven


I was eleven and in the fifth grade. It was early spring and already so warm outside that we could play in schoolyard during the breaks. We boys played a ball games and girls ran and shouted around us. Suddenly my classmate took the ball and bashed it against a girl’s head. The girl got hurt and began to cry. And I felt a huge sense of anger and unfairness. I went to my classmate and hit him three times in the face with my fist. His nose started to bleed, and tears started to flow from my eyes. It was the first and the last time that I hit anyone.
Then the teacher came and tried to resolve the situation. I cried and cried, because something had burst out of me, I had no idea what it was. The teacher was angry at me but I did not notice it, I only looked at my classmate who wiped his bleeding nose. The other classmates rushed to help him and looked at me with contempt and surprise.
Oliver – that was his name – had become some sort of hero and I seemed to have lost all my friends. I did not speak with anyone for the rest of the day. I longed for the moment when I could disappear after the lessons were over. It was the longest schoolday in my life. At last it ended and I ran to the locker room, got my coat and rushed out of the schoolhouse. Burgeoning spring burst against my face but it felt as though something had died in my soul. I had become a criminal. I hurried home, so that I could speak to my mother and father about everything that happened, but they were not yet at home.
I sat on the couch and waited for them. My feeling of solitude was so big that when my mother came home, I ran to her, hugged her and began to cry. I told her the whole story and I was ready for a punishment, I even wanted to be punished, but mother told me to wash my face and hands, “and then we will eat, „brawly man”. Brawly man. I did not want to be a brawly man, I just wanted to be a man. Next day I went to school and apologized in front of the whole class.