Ten-year-old Beau moved to a new school and in the first change pushed the boy from a neighboring class. That is, at first the boy pushed Beau, and then Beau pushed him, but the teacher turned around just when Beau was pushing and immediately took him to the vice principle.
The vice principle called Beau’s mother and told her in no uncertain terms that in “their school” there would be no fights and ugly ( according to the vice principle), behavior. Beau cried, and mom asked him what happened. “He said I had a fat ass and pushed me,” Beau said stickily.
“Maybe he will call that boy and figure out who pushed first?” – mother turned to the vice principle.
“What does it matter why Beau was behaving so badly?” – said the head teacher. “We can’t fight at school under any circumstances…”
He could not understand how an adult (Beau’s mother) did not understand that it was not important who started, or why the brawl began. Violence (as it was proclaimed by the Ministry of Education of their island) is prohibited and this was the point, not who started what.
“What should Bo do if he is hit or offended?” – asked the mother, who was born on another island.
In her childhood, she had to be able to stand up for herself.
“Whatever happens” said the vise principle, “The disciple must immediately tell the teacher or me. And never, under any circumstances, not to use force….
… We fight against any form of violence “- he proudly repeated the line from the speech of the Minister of Education, whom he idolized and dreamed of someday becoming like him.
Children were told repeatedly to complain about those who misbehaved, accustomed to complaining about those who spit, accustomed to complaining about those who swear. As soon as the student did not like something that other students did, he (she) immediately fled to complain.
Sometimes several students fled at once, and who was the first to complain received praise from teachers and gifts from the island’s education department.
There were no fights at school at all. Students going to the shift followed each other, and if anything, immediately ran from all their feet to the vice principle or to a teacher to point out the culprit of the crime committed before their eyes.
And crimes (or at least complaints) did not decrease in value, but even, as it were, they were added. Washed grass was once not a crime, but became; a football ball hit a student passing by, the word said in his hearts about the teacher – it was immediately brought to the attention of the teachers of the school.
Students stopped trusting each other. No one pushed, the did not fight, did not disgrace and did not run. The principle and teachers constantly received the pennant “calmest” school on the island, or “cleanest” school on the island.
But there were no fewer denunciations. Now they concerned the actions of students outside the school and even at home.
The students stopped sharing with each other their experiences, dreams, desires, and hopes. They feared that their secret thoughts would become known first to teachers, and then to everyone at all.
Local hooligans knew that the students at this school did not resist at all, and calmly took away money and sandwiches from them.
Beau, like others, used to run and complain about any reason, and when he became older, he began to run and complain to the police. After all, it was bad to fight yourself. You would be punished for that.
But the good uncle policeman will come and punish the one who hurt you.
Well, in order to punish more forcefully, it was sometimes advantageous to leak something that did not happen… but could happen.
It was also nice to watch from behind the window screen as the police drove to the neighboring house and demanded (according to Beau’s complaint) to either stop making noise, or singing and even laughing loudly.
Beau had very few friends, but his neighbors often had guests, and Beau considered this unfair. He felt offended and he had to complain to someone for his bad moods. After the offenders were punished or at least disturbed, Beau felt a little better.
The truth is that this feel of satisfaction didn’t last long.
The school taught that boys and girls are the same and required all boys to come to school on Fridays in skirts and blouses.
Beau first got into the closet and did not want to go to school, but then got used to it. Boys and girls were all taught to sew, embroidery, cook food and change diapers on dolls depicting their future children.
If one of the boys was seen with a saber, or a slingshot, or even a pepper knife, then he was kicked out of school for a week. However, the vice principle organized raids on the houses of the schoolchildren, and toy pistols, sabers, drums (military) and sets of tin soldiers were taken from all the houses.
“This develops cruelty and violence in children,” said the Minister of Education. And these “evil” objects were taken and destroyed.
Some parents tried to object and even “clarify something to their children”, but their own children began to inform on them, and most of the parents went silent.
There were one or two cases of “leaving the island due to disagreement with the education methods”, but others soon forgot about those who left.
Interestingly, Beau’s school had much less youthful love stories than on other islands, but this was also regarded by the heads of the school and the Ministry of Education as a big plus to their methods.
“Fewer experiences, fewer broken hearts and fewer unexpected and unnecessary pregnancies,” they said to each other and congratulated the leadership for wisdom and foresight.
Beau learned to paint his lips and blush his cheeks. In a natural science lesson, the whole class learned how to get rid of hair on their feet. Girls had less hair, but it was not prohibited to talk about it.
In general, sexism (they were explained) was to mention any difference between girls and boys, and for this terrible misdeed, the grades for all subjects were reduced.
Beau wanted to study at a good university and therefore learned to keep his tongue on his teeth.
He saw that there was a difference between girls and boys, but he already realized that the truth does not interest anyone. It was necessary to say what teachers wanted, and as an encouragement teachers were writing recommendations to good schools and colleges.
Students who were lucky to be born to African-American or Indian parents were rated higher than whites and Asians. And Beau invented an Indian grandfather.
He even bought a cheap amulet from an old man’s shop, and pretended it to be an artifact of his great-grandfather, a shaman of the Mountain Falcons tribe.
All his friends envied him, understanding that the descendant of the Indians would be admitted to any university in the archipelago without any exams.
University taught Beau that any disagreement with the established and allowed opinion is either deception, or stupidity, or was done on the instructions of the enemies of the homeland.
All friends of the righteous regime (some called it fatherland) could have one and only one opinion. This opinion could change, but then everyone had to immediately accept the new opinion as an absolute truth.
One girl who said that she could not immediately change her opinions and start believing in a new opposite one, lost all friends and constantly was ridiculed teachers. She committed suicide but no one felt responsible.
From this, Beau realized that it is necessary to change his mind (and quickly) as soon as the wind blows from the other side.
He liked the girl who committed suicide and for a short while felt bad, but then calmed down when all the students together went to kick the teacher who had wrong opinion on politics out of the University. Bo even threw a stone at his car but missed.
Beau did not develop a relationship with the opposite sex. He (as it was written in the manual on the rules of sex in the hostel) asked the girls if they wanted to meet with him for sexual intercourse, but they usually did not agree.
And if they agreed and came to the room in the dormitory in which Beau lived with his neighbor, then they left when Bo asked them for the third time if they could be kissed, then if he could touch her breasts, then if he could stroke them on the leg from the knee up…
Beau was surprised every time that they would leave, and after the sudden departure of the girls, he reread the manual, and asked his roommate (who was preparing for the exams in the same room at that time) what he did wrong. And every time he made sure that he did everything in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Education.
Once a neighbor suggested that Beau paint his lips and eyelashes, dress heels and dance with him. Beau agreed, but when a neighbor climbed into his underpants, he stopped an unwanted advance and went to sleep.
Next day the roommate took to the dean’s office a complain that he no longer wants to live in the same room with Beau, since Beau is a sexist.
Beau was transferred to another room and warned that if this behavior was repeated, he would be expelled. Beau stopped inviting girls and pretended that he was completely uninterested in sex and relationships.
The University continued to punish any violence other than that committed by groups of students and professors against teachers with different opinions. Then everyone was handed out sticks with iron inside, gasoline and lighters.
Students attacked when there were many of them, and the victim was alone. Students didn’t call the victim a “victim.” They called them “traitors” – it was easier to scream at the the lecturer and throw stones and Molotov cocktails at the windows of the building where such speakers spoke.
When the “wrong” president was chosen on the island, not the one professors and students wanted, the University administration announced mourning days, equipped a calm room with quiet music and soft sofas, and allowed students not to take exams. And the students went to the reassurance room and sobbed. Beau also went and cried with everyone. The offense rolled to his throat and he shook soundlessly and for a long time then could not come to his senses.
Beau graduated from the University with a huge debt and found that no one needs his specialty “the struggle of women for equality in Africa.” Before that, he did not think about how he would earn a living.
Thinking about money was considered among the students a very mercantile and unpopular occupation. Those teachers who were advising to think about the future, were shouted at lectures and kicked out of the University.
Beau could not pay for his housing himself and returned from college to his parents, to their small apartment. He had no money, no friends, and he sat at home all day long, staring stupidly at the wall and hating laughing people.
Beau could stand behind the curtain for hours and wait for someone passing under the window to laugh. Then he immediately poured sewage from his night pot on the heads of those laughing, and again hid behind the curtain.
This was the only thing that brought him keen pleasure and true satisfaction.
When a large group of foreign workers who were used for heavy and dangerous work, began to rebel, demanding increased wages and benefits, no one took to the streets to stop the mad and burning shops and cars crowd.
The police, recruited from the same school in which Beau used to study, fled. Everyone hid their uniforms and mixed with the population.
The insurgents unexpectedly to themselves seized the capitol, beat and raped all employees of the island government and found themselves to be the government of the island.
No one resisted. The islanders asked each other who to turn to for protection but did not come up with any idea except call 911 and leave desperate messages.
Quite soon, the new elite realized that they needed servants. The island services such as electric and water supply did not work well without supervision. The islanders began to be hired again. They paid less then before, worked longer hours, but not complained. They soon learned that complaining is equal to a severe punishment.
On the third day after the “revolution,” as the new bosses called it, Beau went to the former town hall building, and proposed to inform on fellow citizens who evaded taxes, did not want to go serve new rulers, or (God forbid) planned something against the new government.
There were many who came with same proposition, but Beau was lucky and he was hired.
The very first report Beau wrote about the vice principle of the school he studied. Then some fellow students. And then Beau retaliated against anyone who laughed.
One day he thought that it was inconvenient to live in a small apartment with two older people, his parents, and reported that they wanted to overthrow the new government.
After some time, Bo found out that the informers were given the apartments of those they reported about and was upset that he did not report someone richer than his folks.
Living alone, Bo could now bring home prostitutes, and beat them when once again he did not have an erection. The prostitutes did not complain about Bo. They knew where he worked and what he was doing.
And one day, Bo was found stabbed in a ditch on the edge of town. No one came to his funeral and he was buried in a moat, and his grave allocated by the island was sold to someone else.