Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student
Juan Ramon Pimentel
When I was nine years old, I attended a small school in my native town, La Piedad, near Mexico City. Everyone in school knew each other because it was and still is a small town. I used to hang out with my friend Frank and four other guys. At that time, I weighed seventy pounds. During our lunch my friends and I would play soccer on the school field. My life seemed to be easy and fun then. After school, Frank and I and our friends played video games in the local store. Our order was always a chicken sandwich and an orange soda. The six of us played video games until our money was gone. On the way home, we would chat about how we almost reached the highest score. Frank always said, “Next time I’ll get it.” Sometimes we cut class to ride our bikes down to the river. We loved to ride our bikes through the river so we could feel the ice-cold water splashing our legs. We were tight, like the Three Musketeers, even though there were six of us. Life could not have been better.
However, things began to change after a couple months. I began to gain weight. Over a period of six months, I gained sixty pounds because of my asthma medication. Personally, I did not mind, but it seemed like everyone else did. My classmates stopped asking me to ride bikes with them. I did not understand why they stopped talking to me. One day after class I saw them going to the local store to play video games, so I decided to run home and ask my mom for money. My classmates had not invited me, but I thought it would be fine to meet them there since it was our hang out. I could hear my friends laughing inside. Frank was upset and yelled, “Daaayumn I almost got it!” When I stepped into the video game area, everyone stopped talking. I said, “Hey, guys, what’s going on?” They didn’t answer. Instead they exchanged looks. Even though I felt weird, I approached them. All of them began to talk about me. They looked at Frank; “Are you going to tell him?” I asked, “What?” He looked at me and then kept playing. Then again they encouraged Frank, “I dare you to do it!” I was excited because I thought that they might tell me something funny, but the next thing wasn’t funny at all. It was heartless.
They told me to go home—that I was not welcome to play with them anymore. I laughed thinking that they were joking. Then, I realized it was not a joke. My friends were telling me to no longer bother them. I stared at Frank, hoping he did not feel the same way, but he did not even bother to look at me. Instead he continued playing. After that I felt as if my blood stopped circulating through my body. I felt my heart drop for a couple of seconds, and I could not speak. My eyes began to burn. I could not hold back my tears. I walked home, depressed and furious. I walked with my head down because I did not want people to see me crying. Soon I could taste the salty flavor of my tears. When I arrived home, I continued crying. I began to ask myself why they treated me that way, and I blamed myself.
I thought that they were the only ones who did not want to hang out with me, but soon no one wanted to be my friend. I had never made any other friends because I thought that Frank and the others would always be there for me, but I was wrong. They not only stopped me from hanging out with them, but also began to make hurtful comments about me. My classmates made the teacher stop me from playing soccer. They told him that I was too fat to run and they did not want to lose. Their comments did not hurt me, but it did when my teacher did not defend me; instead he just laughed. Soon everyone began to pick on me. Every time I entered class, they looked at me with disgust. They had that look on their faces as if I was going to eat them. I tried not to pay attention but it was difficult. Each time the teacher asked me to stand up and solve a problem on the board, my classmates said, “Open some space for Juan.” They even put their legs out to try to make me fall. I felt ashamed.
After that I never wanted to be called on in the classroom because I knew what would happen. I could not believe the same individuals who one day had said they were my friends were now my enemies. During lunchtime I sat by myself next to the director’s office, knowing that if someone wanted to hurt me I could yell for the director. Teasing not only happened in school, but after school. Often I had to walk home hearing all my nicknames. Guys from school who were not even my classmates called me “fatty,” “bowling ball,” “muffin,” and “ice cream cone.” I did not want to attend school anymore. I pleaded with my mom to let me stay home. Many times I faked having a stomachache. At night while I tried to sleep, I could hear all the mean comments about me again and again. Soon it all got out of control. Older guys from school began to chase me home. Everyone took advantage of me to have fun. I felt furious because I could not defend myself. There I was on a hot summer day running from my fears, running up hills towards my house. Since I was overweight, for me running was a punishment. Those guys made me run to my house every day after school; I had become their favorite form of entertainment. I remember the sweat running down my face. My labored breathing made me feel like a fish out of water. Classmates stared at me like I had a contagious disease. Being alone made me feel depressed. Soon, I decided to stop eating because I was tired of being fat. I thought that if I stopped eating I would become slender again. But instead I became anemic.
After all that, I stayed only one more year. All the hurtful comments and my health issues stopped me. And I never went back to school in my native town. I still remember the chases and the hurtful comments. I cannot believe that my best friends turned their backs on me because of my weight. I would never treat someone like that. Humans can be cruel. People commit hate crimes because they do not like the nationality, color, and look of someone else. But I, at least, have learned not to judge others by their outer appearance.