The tears dripped slowly down his face, as he stared into the mirror, hating the figure that stood before him. Ade was big for fifteen, but he felt two feet tall, as he examined the bruises on the side of his face. It wasn’t the bruises that hurt the most though, it was the taunting that had come after.
“Gaz, watch what you’re doing, if Kelly sees him all bruised we’re dead.”
“Not bloody likely lad, this lad’s so fucking black, they won’t even notice!”
The laughter still echoed in Ade’s ears, as he tried to stop the stream of tears willing their way from his eyes, until finally he buckled and threw himself on the bed, covering the wailing with a pillow, so his mother would not hear. He didn’t know what to do, he had no one to turn to, he had to try to deal with this himself.
“Dinner’s ready Ade,” his mother roared from the bottom of the stairs, as he rubbed away the tears, eager to hide the situation from his mother. She had enough to be dealing with, she didn’t need to take on teenage problems like this as well.
Just as he got up to go for dinner, his phone vibrated, he looked and it was another message on his Facebook page, ‘hope you die, you dirty nigger.’ He shook his head and fired the phone on the bed and decided that he wasn’t going to let them ruin his evening.
Ade and his mum, Saremi had a special treat that night, as it was her birthday, she was forty-four that day. They had got a take-away from the local chip shop, which was Ade’s favourite and it meant that his mum got the evening off from cooking, not that she cared, she loved doing things, especially things for her wonderful son Ade, he was everything to her, in fact, he was all that she had.
Ade and his mum had moved to Ireland in 2005 from Togo in tragic circumstances. Ade and his family lived in the town of Anèho, near the capital of Togo. It was a fishing village on the coast, where his father worked as a fisherman. He was just four years old when civil unrest broke out in Togo, following the death of President Eydéma. The army staged a coup-d’état and when his father took part in demonstrations, he and hundreds of the villagers were massacred by the state troops. Ade’s mother took Ade to London, where they stayed for a couple of months before she found a job in a village in Ireland, called Bunowen in Donegal.
“Everything going okay in school pet?” she enquired.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be,” replied Ade with too much enthusiasm.
His mother looked at him suspiciously but decided to let it go, she didn’t want to annoy him and she wanted to enjoy her night off with her son. Saremi worked in The Bunowen Inn, which was a local hotel in the town and often worked very late at night, which meant Ade spent a lot of time by himself. Other teenagers would have been glad of this arrangement but Ade loved spending time with his mum and knew how hard she worked so that he could have a good life.
She had worked day and night for over a month so that Ade could get a mobile phone just like the rest of his friends and he was delighted when he opened his present on the day of his birthday and saw the latest I Phone in a bright shiny box. He had felt so bad that that was why his mother was working such long hours but he was still delighted to be able to have the same things as the rest of his friends. Ironically, the phone was the beginning of his troubles with the boys in school.
The following morning, Ade kneeled at the side of his bed and prayed, both to god and to the picture of his dead father for a way out of this nightmare. On the way to school he sat beside Matty, who had been his friend for over five years and yet he still couldn’t tell him what was going on.
The bullying had started with just messages on Facebook and texts to his phone telling him to go back to Africa, that he wasn’t wanted. The fact that he was the only boy in the school who was not white made life very difficult for him at St Joseph’s but he had manged to get through two years of school with no hassle, it was now that he was bigger and in third year that older boys started to notice him.
The messages turned into subtle shoves and pushes in the corridors accompanied by whispers of ‘nigger,’ which were loud enough for Ade to hear but low enough so that none of the teachers would hear. None of his friends had noticed and things got worse and worse until finally, they beat him up as he was walking home from football training after school.
It worried Ade that he had no idea how far they would go and he had no one to help him to stop them. He thought about telling Matty but he just couldn’t, boys simply weren’t able to talk about things like that.
From the corner of his eye he could see his tormentors pointing and laughing at him, as he walked into the school. The rest of the boys were camouflaged in the navy uniforms, only Ade stuck out with his dark skin and muscular physique. His physique were no match for ‘Gaz’ and his gang though. There were six in the gang but it was Gaz a.k.a. Gary Moran who was the leader. His five companions did not dare to question him and did their best to impress their leader at all times.
The morning passed without any incidents and Ade got through break and actually managed to have a laugh with Matty and the rest of the boys in third year. The rest of the day went well too and Ade was relieved that things were perhaps taking a turn for the better and that maybe now that he had taken a hiding from them that they would simply stop.
On his way out of the school, Matty called him over and told him that he had something to show him and that he should walk with him to the bus. Ade looked at Matty strangely, but he begged him.
“Come on man, it will be worth it, we just have to go out the other exit, down by the gym.”
Ade rolled his eyes and agreed, following Matty, eager now to know what his friend wanted to show him. They were just passing the gym door, which was locked, as the PE teacher left early on Wednesdays when they heard the sudden rush of feet and the slamming of a door.
Ade wasn’t sure what the noise was but he and Matty continued on the side exit when a crowd of boys came rushing out of the toilets behind them and when Ade saw who it was he ran. Matty ran too and they could see the exit door just twenty feet in front of them. They were well ahead of the mob behind them and Ade knew if he got to the door before them, he could out run them to the front of the school and to safety.
Just as he got to the door, a figure appeared with a huge grin, as stood arms folded and chest out, “Going somewhere nigger boy?”
Ade’s heart stopped, he gulped, he thought about charging him and knocking him over but knew that there were too many of them. He looked at Matty, who seemed petrified, but he couldn’t believe his ears, when Gary announced, “Good work Matty you little squirt, I’ll let you go this time, but if I ever see you hanging around with niggers again, you’ll get the same treatment as this dickhead.”
Ade’s heart sank. He had been betrayed by the one person he truly thought was a friend. He was so angry, he decided that the only thing to do was fight. The anger built up inside him and he threw himself at Gary, as Matty walked out the door. His right fist slammed into the left side of Gary’s face knocking him backwards. His first instinct was to run and he might have got away for the shock of what had just happened caused the others to stop and stare, but Gary had them standing to attention again, by shouting, “What the fuck are you lot staring at? Fucking get him!”
The five boys lunged forward and Ade was able to beat them off with carefully placed punches. In a one on one contest, it wouldn’t even be a contest, as Ade was too powerful, too quick and too agile but with five of them, they were able to out manoeuvre him. It was an even tie until Gary managed to lift himself off the floor. He walked slowly over to the middle of the squabble and he lined Ade up for a long time, picking his shot, before landing a cruel blow to the side of his head. Ade fell backwards, with the five on top of him. Gary lined up another shot and this time slammed his fist with an uppercut under Ade’s chin, which resulted in two broken teeth.
Ade’s head fell backwards, the last blow had left him unconscious and the boys watched as lay lifelessly on the ground. They all shared war stories, about the different things they had done to him, none of them admitting that they were no match for Ade by themselves.
Kevin put his head above the parapet and taunted Gary, “he hit you some slap! Just as well we were here to back you up.”
“Lucky fucking shot,” responded Gary angrily.
“Ha ha, someone’s not happy they got beaten by a nigger!”
“Shut the fuck up! I’ll show you what this fucker deserves.”
Gary walked over to Ade and kicked him three times to the head, before the rest of them pushed him away, aware that they had pushed him over the edge. They looked down and discussed ringing an ambulance but were overruled by Gary.
“Let the fucker get to the hospital by himself. Serves him right for acting the big man.”
The six boys walked out leaving Ade lying in a pool of his own blood, clinging to life with no one around to help him.
To be continued……