I only realised this lately, but my beginnings at school were like a crazy fast merry-go-round. For starters, within four years I changed schools three times. We also moved from one end of Plzeň to another. And, even though I’m not a brawler, I got into a fight for the first time in my life. It was innocent enough: nobody got hurt, there was no blood. But for a young boy it was a big thing.
Let me paint a picture for you. At my school, there was an ongoing battle raging between the third-graders and the fourth-graders. The two sides were implacable. I was one of the younger ones, and the older boys wanted to assert their dominance, show us who’s boss. But we did provoke them. One day we made fun of one of the fourth-graders as he was walking next to us on the pavement. He was alone, so we got bold.
“Just you wait! You’re gonna regret this. We’re getting payback,” he said through clenched teeth and ran off.
And payback they got. The whole fourth-grade gang waited for us in front of the school, and they demanded a fight. Six against six, a one-on-one fight. Six older boys against six younger boys.
That day I was having a bad hair day. Everything was going wrong. After PE I came back to the boys’ locker room and found that all clasps had been torn off my schoolbag. The bag was ruined and I was livid. Who and why had done that?! I couldn’t understand it.
And then the fight. I wasn’t expecting it. One of the older guys jumped on me, literally jumped on my back from a fence trying to knock me down. Anger was simmering in me because of my ruined schoolbag, so I threw him off over my head with all my might and sat on his chest. Poor bugger. Others were fighting around us, but I had him pinned to the ground.
There were fists, slaps and insults thrown around, the boys were scratching each other, pulling each other’s hair, but my opponent didn’t even get one punch. He was bigger and stronger than me, but he couldn’t move an inch. I was just watching the skirmish around me, and suddenly I heard a voice: “Hey, Petr, let him go, he’s getting kinda red.”
Indeed he was: he was barely wiggling his legs. I wouldn’t have liked it either if I couldn’t move for five minutes.
The fourth-graders got burnt that day. They wanted to be the boss and they were taught a lesson. And for me, it was the first – and the last – fight of my life.
P.S. Next week - Chapter 10