These days, I am aware that I am much more dissociated at school than I am at home. Mostly, I am switched into a part at home. Not all the time, but I would say more than 50%. But I feel connected, like I can feel things. At school, there isn’t really a problem, but I feel as though I am behind a curtain. And it’s odd, because I hadn’t been aware of that before. I think represents a change, that I am generally more connected, but at school too many things happen. I can’t keep up, and I end up behind a curtain, unable to process what is happening to me.
Sometimes, when I do feel more on the surface, it is only a sense of unreality that asserts itself. I think I cannot process that I am not dead. I cannot process that everyone is not dead. I see more than a hundred students a day. There are students in my class that I teach and old students who just say one or two things and students I am not sure how I even know, and I talk to them and feel things and I think I see them and I don’t know how it is they are not dead. I don’t know how anyone survived.
My whole world died, and I still don’t really understand how anyone has still lived. Death became so eminent for me. In the background, but a constant, lurking shadow. I think that is how it was for me.
There was a kind of teenage drama after school yesterday. Not terribly interesting to report, but I was there. I had to deal with it. And C was also there. It involved people she knows. So a group of students and I were walking up to the staffroom. I wanted to talk to the center of the drama alone, which is almost impossible to do in Country X. There is almost no sense of privacy. The children have even less. Anyway, C was there. She said, “I will make your [national dress top].” It was folded up in the back. She said that and then I felt hands at my, just unfolding. It wasn’t anything much.
I was terribly tired at that point. It had been a hard day. I wanted to go home. But C wakes me up in a way. Her touch made me noticed that I was being touched. I think this is because of her chance resemblance to one of my friends. I feel safe. The wall comes down a little, and I am free to notice things. Anyway, I couldn’t think about it at the time, but I held onto that.
The thought that came out of it later was that I am not dead.
At assembly, I was looking out at all the students and I suddenly felt terribly afraid. It was something like a part intruding. I mean, I was processing something emotional that normally I wouldn’t have the leisure to do, except it’s assembly. The toilets aren’t cleaned. The drains aren’t clean. No one is studying for exams. The usual stuff. So I was feeling this fear instead. I felt afraid and I thought, “I don’t want them all to die.”
Of course, they aren’t going to die just yet. They aren’t going to die terrible deaths or have their bodies desecrated. But that is how these things get sorted. You feel things. You think in an emotionally connected way, and eventually you start to understand reality. You start to—I do—understand that while my friends died when I was a child, this isn’t something that happens to everyone. The odds of it, in fact, are so low, I will probably never have another friend murdered again.
But it takes time, and I can’t do it in the two seconds it takes for C to gently straighten my clothes for me. It has to be done, but it can’t be done in real time. Not yet.