I think I am starting to feel a little bit different now, like maybe a little of this is getting worked through. I think I feel a little bit more that I can talk and I can noise, I can be more of a presence. It’s not that I was totally silent before, but that I shut myself off from connection to do this, so that I wouldn’t have to know if I was wanted or not.

I noticed it last night, when I went to meet C. She has different friends now, and I like them better. Most of them were my students two years ago, or I have their little brothers or sisters in my class. C will not sit next to me anymore. She sits on the floor or on the opposite bed from me. I think she is trying to titrate the degree of connection, and therefore the degree of pain. But the thing about sitting across from me is that she sees me. In that sense, there is more connection.

Anyway, I was sitting on her friend’s bed—she has moved her own bed away from her ex-friends, because they were constantly fighting. It seemed to me that the two friends she was fighting with are equally troubled, and I am happy to see her with different friends. The old friends seemed artificial to me, and one of them I disliked from my first encounter with her. It was a day when C made a call to IT Ma’am, and then began to cry. It was, in fact, this friend whose bed I was sitting on who informed of it. I hadn’t realized what C was doing, and this girl who I taught 2 years ago very quietly, “Ma’am, she’s crying.” Anyway, this other friend that C has been fighting with and moved her bed away from was standing near us as I held C while she cried, and the girl had a kind of indifferent, predatory look on her face. She had made a joke earlier that day about me—something about “mummy” as if to make fun of C’s vulnerability—and then she went to stand near C and stare in this indifferent, vaguely sociopathic way while C cried. That was in March, I think. Anyway, at that time, I wanted to warn C to avoid this girl. She wasn’t going to be a good friend for C. But then later I thought it better to stay out of it. C is a big girl. She can choose her own friends.

I am not sure what the point of that story is, except that I was sitting in a different place, and C was sitting across from me. This was different than the last few times I have come, when C was there alone with me or with only one friend, because she is fighting with her other friends. It had a much different feeling to it on this other bed, and I had an implicit sense that C was more supported and connected. The girl whose phone I always use to keep in touch with C was right over me, and she was singing badly in a playful way, and I was sitting below her between the girl I had taught two years ago and another whose class I had substituted in for two months at a stretch. Across from me, sat C, between a girl whose younger sister has been in my class for two years and another girl I taught two years ago and whose younger brother is in my class this year. It was a different feeling for me, because I have these histories with the other girls, but I think it was also different for C, because these girls are more stable and more genuinely caring.

There was a bit of gossip and some talking. For a while, C was talking about the schools near her village as though she wanted to change schools. I asked what they were talking about, and the girl next to me said, “Nothing,” and refused to say. It might be she has been thinking about changing schools: she is pushing. It might be I was in that frightened place where I get paranoid. There are other reasons they might not tell me. I have no way of knowing what C is really thinking, and no real way to know: I felt paranoid before she left in December, and indeed she did not come back until she was kind of pushed to come back, and that might happen again. It’s not entirely unlikely. There is not much I can do about it, except regulate the fear. The thing is that right now it is really hurting for her. It is hurting because she feels closer to me, and also because there is this separation looming, and she will want to push me away in order to push the pain away. The bond is triggering pain, and she will want to attack the bond in order to diminish the pain. I can’t do anything about this, except remain steady.

After a while, the topic of C going to her village came up. I said, more or less, than I didn’t believe her about the plans she was making. I said to call the girl she was planning to get a lift with. She wouldn’t call her. I said, “I will go and search for her then.” She said that the girl would get annoyed. I said if I call her, she cannot say anything to me. Do all parents do a lot of calling their kid’s bluffs? Anyway, another girl went and called her. The girl was a Class 12 girl, and I didn’t know her.

I got it sorted out what she was really planning, which was what C said, although C had to tell her—I don’t really think they were lying, but they could have been. She was feeding the girls answers as though she was. However, it doesn’t really matter. My concerns got addressed anyway.

I asked the girl when they were planning to leave for her village, and she said imprecisely 30th. I asked afternoon or evening and got back “afternoon.” I explained to the girl that I was taking C to my house—C claims to not want to come, but I think she is afraid of being left behind and she does want to come down. I explained C would be at my house and when they are ready to leave to call. And I also said she needs to take good care of C and if anything happens to her, I will be very angry. I said this three or four times, and there was quite a lot of laughter. I was quite serious though, and I think C knows that. I have said this to her before. I asked for the girl’s name and she told me, and I might have thanked her or something. I wished her luck in her exams and she went out again, with the girls still laughing about my threats.

I suppose I stayed for a while after that. I was there for about an hour, but the conversation was not remarkable. There was gossip about kids using drugs at my school, which they are. One girl asked if that was true. I said they have been using drugs since they were in Class 6. After the bell for study time rang, I left. C walked me out with one of her new friends, which she has started doing—just latching onto whatever girl is not busy and will give her support. She walked ahead of me, but the other girls have to wait for me to walk through the doorway first, because I am a teacher. So I walked out of the room, and C was there and her friend was not, and I walked next to her and put my arm around her waist as we walked. The friend walked along on the other side of me. This wasn’t really her plan, I am sure. She was hoping to put a barrier between us, so that the closeness would be diminished. But I know she needs hugs. She needs that connection. It’s so very painful, but she needs it, so I just keep kind of trying to slip it past her defenses, whenever there is an opening. We walked out, and I had my arm around her waist and held her close to me. She said, “Don’t touch me,” without moving away from me. I could feel the tension in her body when she said it. It was very much a switch in that moment, suddenly very defended and angry. I think I backed off from something I was doing when she said that, but I didn’t pull away from her. I still held her next to me. It seemed to die down a bit after that.

We got to the gate and I fumbled with various things for a minute. I touched C’s face and said, “Come here,” which I say when I am about to hug her. She didn’t move towards me, but said, “Go now.” So I kept my hand on her face, and didn’t pull her towards me at all.

I walked home and when I got home, I sent the usual text to her friend that I had reached home and C was in my heart. I forgot that I had changed the alert on my phone so that it wasn’t that incessant beeping it does (so that I hear C’s messages). Because of that, I didn’t see the reply for a long time later. I was listening, but I forgot what I needed to listen for.

It was just: “Why.” I was dissociated at that point, and didn’t really connect everything appropriately, so she didn’t get a well-attuned reply nor did she get a timely reply.

In the morning, I woke up late, and had to rush, but I made C pancakes and wrote a long note to her about how special she is to me, and how that specialness comes from the bond between us. I told her the story of The Little Prince and how the fox said, “Once you tame me, I will become special and different from all the other foxes for you.” And I told her it is like that. She is special and different from every other child to me, and I am different and special from every other person to her, because of the relationship between us. She does not always read my letters for a long time—possibly there are notes she never reads. Sometimes I come and the last note I wrote is still sitting somewhere. The letter I wrote her on Mother’s Day she didn’t read for weeks, if at all. But anyway, it’s like her maybe plan to transfer schools without telling me. I can’t do anything further. Just keep trying, and hoping something helps. You keep throwing darts sometimes and hope something eventually hits.

But she is in a place of feeling a lot of mistrust at the moment. It’s a hard place to be in.

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