I survived. My guardian angel came or God pitched in or I turned out to be more capable than I was. But it was okay.
I went to school early in the morning. I thought I would be busy in the afternoon and whatever conversation needed to happen with C ought to be done early. The students are coming to school earlier than usual for exams. Not because they have to, but I guess sitting around with their friends pretending to study is more fun than sitting at home actually studying.
Anyway, I didn’t see her. I had to go around evaluating hedges regardless, so I did that, and I didn’t see her. I didn’t see her until assembly, and I so talked to her only after it. Which I suppose was okay.
She’s not leaving. She’s going to her village, but she isn’t going to boarding school. She doesn’t “know maths and madam will help me if I stay here.” So I’ll see her. That’s one good thing. It’s one thing that made the day easier.
The other thing is I asked her how old she was. Well, she is not 15. She is not 16. She is 13. My memory of 13-year-olds is just that they are quite a lot different than C is—probably less competent and probably smaller. Country X children are an odd combination of competence and naivety. And they are surprisingly big after puberty.
She is the age I was when Nata died, the age I was when I had a miscarriage, the age I was when I was gang-raped at the request of my father.
And it’s startling to think about this. In the scale of things, she’s just so safe compared to me. One of the horrific things that happened to me could happen to her, but not all of them. She can’t be trafficked—there’s no sex industry here. But even if she were, it’s unlikely her pimp would be a serial killer. It gives me a clearer sense of how on the edge of the spectrum my childhood was. I’m not alone in being at the edge of the spectrum of horror, and I also don’t mean to minimize the pain and damage of abuse that is less at the edge, but it means I make a different sense of it now. The things that really scare me just can’t happen. It’s not like being raped on one occasion where, realistically, that could happen again and you have to find some way to live with that fear. What happened to me really can’t. One person I care about could be murdered, but not four of them. It could, I suppose, but the odds are just so extremely low.
C is safe. I am safe.
I go to my exam room and I look at the children there—most of whom are in C’s class—and I think they are safe. They are just so safe from the things that frighten me most. They could die of a lot of things, but no one is likely to strangle them as Stecia was, no one is going to be bludgeoned with metal pipes as Natalia was. These things just probably aren’t going to happen.
I can feel a sense of relaxation within myself as I think this, and it doesn’t really have time to fully process fully. It will have to be done again, but it’s nice while it lasts.