THE FINGERS of the five-year-old me circled around the straps of my backpack so tightly that my knuckles had visibly gone white.
My mother spoke gently but firmly. She said education is essential. Going to school would make me a better person; there I would learn, and when I asked her what, she smiled tenderly and answered, “A lot.”
Somewhat assured by my mother’s hopeful eyes, briefly, I put my arms around her, and then took off.
Now nineteen, I found myself at the guidance office, occupying a seat. My now-longer fingers gripped around the neck of a pen so tightly that my knuckles had visibly gone white.
My mother was right; I would learn—and I have learned that she was wrong.
The sensation of the point of my pen digging into the back of my classmate’s hand, penetrating through his flesh, lingered in my memory. I remember it as vividly as the positioning of the continents of the map which almost reminded me of the cuts and bruises he and his friends graphed on my skin as if I was some piece of paper and not a person with my own faults and history. F MARIA ANTOINETTE A. MALICSE