GIRLS YOUR AGE
Picture this: hushed giggles on the school hallway, fingers looped around sport-shoe laces and dirt caked under nails. Everyone's legs are blistered with mosquito scabs – dull red like astronomically correct constellations; skin honeyed by the equatorial sun that never seems to relent.
I thought school was supposed to be savage. Savage, like crushing depression / common jock fistfights / bloodied t-shirts frayed with time and halfhearted forgiveness – not like voices complaining of heat and of our Rupiah being worth so little.
I read once that popular girls were supposed to choke their fingernails with nail polish and stuff their mouth with bloodred lipstick, and I believed it. I dreaded middle school with all its whimsical promises of vengeance and glory, but all we get here is tall skinny girls with a dull gleam inside their eyes and a tendency to hover around as they please – trying to find some pairs of ears that could hear their voice without being nosy and spilling words through Skype. But of course, they never get what they wish for.
This is middle school. This is where gossips are traded around like currency and a heart being broken you only roll your eyes at.
There is no Adonis here, no chiseled muscles that the girls circle around like Jibril’s halo. No instant heartthrobs that the new ones immediately fawn and trip over – only giggled whispers in the cafeteria of who smokes, they drink? – ah, that’s so obvious. Did you see their snap? Can’t believe they’d be so stupid. So stupid.
Every hand is equipped with mostly iPhones – they were supposed to gleam in the sunlight, but when three hundred teenagers equip it like a gun it just funnels together into one blinding light that screams extreme wealth gap alert and something like cracked screens worth more than a beggar’s salary is something commonplace in our grounds.
And I do not belong there.
Of course I’d never belong. That is why I notice how unbelievably easy they talk of London and Amsterdam, we came home that day and suddenly we had two Macbooks for year six, Blackberry phones thrown to the air and rocketing back to the gravity it’s ruled by only as a source of amusement and non-concerned shrieking. Alienated by tales of childhood trips to Melbourne and Boston; God I hope next year’s trip is to Japan / Well, you know, it is expensive / And my god it’s worth it.
And when I question if they know how privileged they are to be here, Kalian semua tau kan kita harus kaya buat sekolah disini, all they respond with are bashful cheeks and strangely comfy laughter of Oh no, what are you even saying.
And my insides burn silent with dull envy – envious, of how finely ignorance coats their lips.
But I guess the chapstick made out of the opportunities I have is applied pretty thick, too.
(You all know, right, how high up we must in this hierarchy to even be here.)
Madina is a fifteen year-old girl that lives in a country that doesn’t automatically exist inside your head. Spends her time crying over the currency rates of rupiah to US dollars and angrily staring at the prices of books in her OpenTrolley want list. She is @falsecatch on Twitter.