Tuesday 2 October, 2012:
I check my emails, and find one from Karys’s PA. Letter from Karys, scheduling a meeting. Other documents attached. First emotion: a bit of panic, my heart beats fast. I’m so tired of fighting Karys, sometimes. It’s just that I’ve got no other option that really makes sense to me. Because I know I can’t stay quiet about things. I can’t ignore what I see around me at school. I can’t – and somewhere, I accept that.
And so, I have my moment of panic, then I try to steady myself and read the correspondence carefully. Karys has called me to a meeting on October 17th. She will have someone from the School Trustees Association present. The letter says I may wish to consult a Union representative (this I will do, of course). Following the meeting, Karys will decide whether to involve the Board… etc, etc.
My first thoughts are that she doesn’t know the half of it. She wants to come down hard on what she sees as clear insubordination; make a point. The thing is, I’ve got my own point to make, too. And Karys doesn’t really know that yet. So there’s going to be a contest, if that’s the way it goes – which means I have to think strategically.
At least I have time to think. But I feel a bit scared all the same – Karys can be very intimidating. Her take on the situation is so different from mine. And she won’t play fair, I know that. I have to predict what she’s going to bring up – so as not to be overwhelmed and react emotionally on the day. I need to read the swell and take notice of those ‘living signs’, like the navigators of old.
I just lay down and hug my pillow and think about everything, and wonder all over again if I’m just plain wrong after all, and if school’s right. But I don’t think so. Like I’ve said before, I don’t always think I’m right either. But I’m sure I’m not just all wrong.
Wednesday 3 October:
Sleep last night is just dozing and waking up again, all night long. My mind won’t stay still. A couple of times I let a few tears just spill out of my eyes; can’t help it. But I felt weak – and I want to stay strong. I think about Tau, and just sigh to myself, because I know I’d do all this stuff over again, I’d just try and do it better. I can’t be sorry about what’s happening with Karys. For a start, I can’t afford to be. And also – I just can’t. I guess at some level, it’s necessary. It means I believe in something. And that I’ll defend my beliefs when I must.
Of course, on further reflection, I realise it would be premature to just accept the meeting straight away – I won’t be doing so until I’ve taken advice from the Union Field Officer. I mail the PA and let her know this.
For, as I explain to the Field Officer in an email – there are several issues which must be clarified in advance of any meeting. In particular, does Karys intend to raise points from past meetings and correspondence? (these, going by previous experience, are likely to be personal, biased, and probably irrelevant to the matter at hand).
The other thing that immediately concerns me is that several points in Karys’s most recent letter were not previously disclosed in her correspondence with me. So I need to reply to these points before the meeting (as I would have done already, had I been fully briefed).
Thursday 4 October:
Kepaoa texts me, asking to pick up some shoes he left at my place. I tell him I’ll drop them off. He’s almost finished course for the day, so he suggests we could meet there. I figure he’s hoping to get a ride home, into the bargain.
Actually, he just wants to talk, more than go home. He hops in the car, saying, “What are you doing this afternoon, Miss?”
“Just going to run some errands,” I tell him. “But I can drop you off home first.”
“Could I just come with you, to wherever you’re going?” he asks. “Is that ok?”
“Yeah, sure,” I say, just laughing a little bit. “But it’s not very exciting, though. Just going to Municipal, that’s all.”
“Nah, awgud, please Miss, if you don’t mind.”
So that’s what we do – and just discuss things a while. Kepaoa wants advice about Tero: he’s still pretty cut up about her going away. I suggest he should plan what to do next, not let himself get hyped up and react impulsively. I point out that that won’t help Teri; only make her worried about her trip. I also instruct him (in no uncertain terms) that he doesn’t need to fuck anyone over at her farewell party (this, of course, is something he admits to being worried about). I add, matter of factly, “Not unless you want her to break up with you before she goes…” and he looks at me and laughs, knowing I have a point.
Friday 5 October:
Trying to concentrate on clarifying the ‘rules of engagement’ with Karys; seeking advice; preparing my responses and strategies.
I go up to Municipal to get a pie before I start work. See Simeon up there too; we stop and talk. “What’s Cluzo up to?” he asks, and I just say something non-committal, like “I’m not sure; he’s probably with Leroi.” Cos I don’t know. How would I know?
When I get home, there’s Tau’s status update on Facebook: ‘#HORSY’GANG:P’ (no surprises there).
And I miss Tau – I miss him much. It’s hard to feel brave, even when you know you got to be brave. But I will be, I promise. It’s something I’ll work for, every minute of the day. To be brave, and not be afraid. To fight when I must, and to win if I can.
Sunday 7 October:
Kepaoa asks if I can help him write his CV. I pick him up and we’re en route back to Municipal, just talking… when he tells me, “I saw Tau yesterday.”
“Oh… yeah?” I say. Cos I don’t know what else to say about it (kind of like with Simeon yesterday).
“Yeah, I saw him at the station, with his boys… Leroi and them,” Kepaoa tells me. “They were drinking – they’d just got back from the beach.”
“Mm,” I say, and Kepaoa goes on: “Tau was pretty drunk.”
“Did he recognise you?” I ask.
“Yeah… because Leroi saw me, and said, Hey, there’s C’za. And then Tau came over and we shook hands. He said I should come have a drink with them, at his mum and dad’s…”
I just nod.
“But I said, oh, I’m with my missus, ge… and he said awguds then, catch you up.”
“Ohyup,” I murmur.
“Far Miss, Cluzo was pretty drunk,” Kepaoa says again. “It was only around two o’clock. He was stepping to everyone – he could hardly stand up.”
I have this mental picture of Tau stumbling around the town centre in broad daylight, and I go quieter and quieter.
But Kepaoa just keeps on talking. “Yeah, Miss… he’s changed aye?” he says, and then, “Faar… and you can really tell he’s into the gang stuff now days… can tell alright.” And he goes on to talk about the other boys, they were ones he doesn’t really know. “But yeah you can tell alright, they’re all into the gang stuff,” he repeats.
We’re just coming up towards Municipal Road, and Kepaoa keeps talking about Tau this and Tau that… and it’s too much for me. I say nothing, but my eyes silently overflow with a few big tears that just roll down my face. I don’t sniff, don’t sob – just pretend I’m concentrating on the turnoff, and hope Kepaoa won’t even notice.
But his voice tails off, and there’s a couple of seconds of quietness. And I don’t look to see, I just feel Kepaoa’s arm go around me, warm and tight. He strokes my hair, then rubs my shoulder, and he says, “Sorry Miss… sorry for bringing him up.”
“It’s ok…” I manage to say. “It’s ok.” My heart hurts so bad, and tears just keep squeezing up and rolling right down, and I try to stop them.
“Nauu, shhhh…” Kepaoa croons, like he’s gently comforting a child. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have brought him up like that, shouldn’t have kept on going like that…”
“It’s ok… I’m sorry,” I kind of breathe and gulp.
“Nauu…” murmurs Kepaoa, just stroking my shoulder. He says, “Do you… miss him?”
I nod, tears keep falling. I miss Tau so much I can hardly bear it, but at least there’s one person in the world who I can tell, don’t feel shamed in front of.
We stop out front of the mall, and sit in the car outside the barber’s. Kepaoa just keeps holding onto me, and we talk. I tell him how I feel like I’ve tried so hard, but straight failed.
And Kepaoa says, “You haven’t failed… you done everything a person could do. I know how much you care about him Miss, don’t blame yourself.”
“I’m sorry,” I tell Kepaoa. “I’m sorry for being an idiot.”
“Nauu, Miss… awguds, I gotchu, alday,” Kepaoa tells me. “I gotchu, Miss.”
And after a while we get round to the CV, then I drop Kepaoa off in Carthill.
When I get back home, I get a text that says: ‘Algud ms dw I gotchu alday aye, always gotchu, anytym..’