Wednesday 18 November, 2009:
No Tau – but I didn’t think he’d be here today. I sit and talk to Inia, who seems to trust my intentions now.
“Did Tau go and see his dad today?”
“Yup, he did,” Inia says.
“Oh – I thought he would.”
At break, I see Saale at the top of the stairs. He’s doing a couple of dance steps, and waves.
Mandy, who’s walking along with me, says, “Look at that boy! Do you know him?”
“Saale,” I tell her.
“You’re good!” she says to him, and he grins, but just hangs back and shakes his head when she asks him to do the moves again.
“Nah,” he says, and then to me, “Can I come with you?” and Mandy looks at us and laughs – it’s just something about the way he asks me.
“Mmm… what’ve you got next, Saale?” I ask
“I’ve got English but I’d rather go where you’re going.”
“Well I know – come and help me carry my speakers, and we’ll talk about it on the way over.”
“Ok Miss,” he says, happily. And we go to the office and get my speakers to take over to F block.
I remember my promise, weeks ago, so: “I’ll tell you what – you can come if you want, I’ll ask your teacher.
“Yes!” he says.
He comes in quietly, and sets up my speakers without being asked; helps me with cords and plugs in the laptop, switches on the data projector… my class come in and I settle them down. Saale says, “I like it here – this class is much better behaved than my class.” He looks around contentedly, then sorts out a few chairs for people before pulling up a seat at the console.
I say, “Thanks, Saale. You’re so helpful,” and he looks delighted and tells me, “I am helpful… but not with those angry teachers.”
His report describes him as completely ‘non-engaged’ and, ‘I believe he should repeat year 9’ writes his Social teacher.
At the end of class, we pack up and carry everything back to the office. On the way we pass Derek, one of the caretakers, on the bridge. He’s painting out Tau’s latest tag (from yesterday), and as we go past, he says, “SSC – that’s Taurangi.”
“Taurangi and a few others,” I clarify.
“Yeah,” he sighs. “Quite a few of them!”
“So, it could have been someone else,” I suggest (untruthfully)
“It could,” he admits, adding “We’re putting up more cameras over the holidays.”
“Oh,” I say, and we have a little chat – I like Derek, despite being firmly on the side of the outlaws myself.
Saale and I go on our way, and he says quietly to me, “Tau did do that one, I can tell.”
“I know, you’re right. But don’t say anything, Saale.”
Saale grins, “Course I won’t, I’m not a snitch.”
I’m not sure how I have any connection with Saale – I’ve never taught him, never even seen him before he just slipped into my tutor group one day, months ago. And I didn’t even know Tau then either – not really. Though he was always the mystery boy.
I don’t know what connects one person to another. But little Saale, just reaching out towards me for some reason only known to himself… it touches me very much.
I feel like I’m marked out by some complete inability to appreciate the way things are meant to work. And if other people also have that inability to understand and accept the order of things; perhaps they pick up on it.
And I believe we know we can survive, when we’ve given up on feeling whole that way. Tau can tag SSC right in front of me, and I just go get him a drink. Cos we know it ain’t right, the way that things try run us, so we do our part.
I expect nothing from school – and it feels as if the only thing to do is to claim these stupid, stupid, hopeless circumstances as somehow ‘mine’ to use.