Episode 36: 1959—The confrontation
“Shut up!” The classroom reverberated with the teacher’s scream. We turned and saw a menacing face. Ominous silence fell upon the room. He pursed his lips, raised his head, tilted it slightly backwards, and began scanning our startled countenance. He saw me. Pointing a finger, he said, “You! To the front.” I was wondering why he had chosen me. Getting impatient, he snapped his fingers, and said “Quickly!” Still, I went up taking my time, and he followed me with stern expression. “Closer!” he demanded.
“What is 4 times 4?” he bellowed as I came close to him….
“Yes, Profe,” said a deep voice.
I turned on time to see a hand. It was Pablo! The 3rd grade teacher’s sycophant. The one who stole the candy from my table and instigated others to do the same. Pablo had done it again, for the third time!…
The crowd moved and encircled us. The students began screaming excitedly. Pablo and I looked at each other. A boy from my class said, “For some time these two have had a problem. Now they are next!” Everybody began chanting. “Let them fight! Let them fight!” Pablo and I weren’t making a move. “Make them fight! Make them fight!”
The crowd got tighter. Someone behind me took my mochila and gave me a shove toward Pablo. My fists went up. Another hand pushed Pablo, and his fists went up too. We looked at each other like two angry cocks when teased to a fight. A hand threw me against Pablo and I threw the first punch hitting him square on the chin. Pablo’s head bounced back and almost fell backwards. He looked stunned. The crowd roared. A hand threw him against me. His right fist hit me on the left of the face with a crushing sound. I felt hot blood rush to my head, and my self-defense-mechanism took over. More hands threw me against him, and I went into a rage. I threw punches all over him and almost slipped on the loose dirt. It got me angrier. Pablo saw my fury and tried to block my punches. I unleashed a flurry of blows to his body and knocked the wind out of him. He stooped over, and I stopped to breathe. He got his wind back. A hand pushed him, and he landed a fist to my mouth. The wrath came over me again and this time I seemed to scare him because right away he raised his arms to fend off what he knew was coming. More hands pushed Pablo and I received him with one-two punches at his face. All Pablo could do now was fending off my fury. He tried to step back but the kids behind him pushed him again. I gave him punches to the face and ribs and arms. Finally, one solid punch to the mouth sent him to the ground. He didn’t get up. He stayed moaning with his buttocks flat on the dirt and his nose bleeding. The sixth grader picked up my arms and everybody cheered.
Pillo stepped in, and said, “Let’s go vale. You have now proved yourself to be a kid from Ixtlán del Rio Nayarit! The class knows now and will respect you.”