It happened in a flash... so fast that it was not physically possible for any human being in my shoe to be able to handle the event in an adequate manner. The orange blur of a ball flew out of the hand of a tall but skinny boy into the face of a fat boy who wore a pair of spectacle.
The spectacle fell to the ground, and blood began to flow rapidly out of the nose of the fat boy. This happened in but a spit of a second.
"Why did you hit me?" The fat boy shouted at the skinny boy as he dashed madly towards the skinny boy with his fist held high, poised to deliver a punch that was sure to hurt the skinny boy before him.
"I hated people who insulted my mum," the skinny boy yelled back, as he got himself into a defensive position, to ward off the attack of the angry boy he had hit the face with a basketball.
"Stop it, stop it, you two!" I shouted, as I ran toward the boy, when I finally gathered myself together. My cries were like arrows that I shot towards the boys, that fell to the ground, without reaching into their ears. The children, or monsters, for that that was what they sometimes seemed to me, were fighting. They were much younger than me, but so violent that I was afraid of them deep inside my heart, but I never let it showed.
The boys stopped, each looking accusingly at the other party, 100 confident that it was the other person's fault that the fight even began in the first place. I looked at the blood that flowed out of the nose of the fat boy.
Oh no, this looked serious, I thought to myself. What will happen to my grade? I needed that A so badly.
"What is happening here?" the supervisor of the center rushed onto the scene, much like the savior that was coming to save the show. It did not matter that I had already asked the children about the whole account of their fight. It did not matter that I had in mind what was the way to discipline or punish the children. It did not matter what I said, or wanted to say.
"Why don't you go into the center and take care of the other children?" he said to me, dismissing me off, thinking I was inadequate to handle or deal with the situation.
I was not exactly a social worker, after all. Just a trainee. Just a student from some social work department in some university, a burden that was placed in his center, that he had to take care of.
The children looked at me, they knew who had the power in the center. They knew who could punish them, and who couldn't. They knew that I was a fake supervisor, that I had no power, that the next time, they got into a fight, there I was someone they needed to be afraid of.
The punishment wasn't fair. The fat boy was the one who called Jake names and he insulted Jake's mother. The other children joined in to provoke Jake together, led by the fat boy. The basketball was flung into the fat boy's face in a moment of anger. But, Jake was the only one punished. The other children were playing happily outdoor in the evening, while Jake remained alone in the center.
I saw the anger in his face, I saw the accusations. It wasn't fair, his eyes seemed to scream, and I agreed with him.
It wasn't fair, I screamed within my heart. It wasn't... it wasn't... it wasn't fair. But there was nothing I could do about the whole situation. He was the boss, he was the supervisor, he was the one who will feedback to my school about my internship.
And I needed that A badly.
Note: This is written for you, Jake. To me, you are not Jake, but a Jade. I can see your beauty, your talent, your gift and I know you are not a failure and not a bad boy. I am so sorry that I never speak up more for you that day even though I know you are not the only one at fault. You deserve to be punished for hitting that boy with the basketball, but so do the others. I see your anger, your anger at the unfair treatment you bear alone, and I feel for you, dear Jade.
Please do not grow up hating the whole world, hating the system, hating the whole school and hating everyone because you think everyone is against you. Because somewhere inside you is a Jade that will shine one day, beautifully, if you never give up on yourself as a human being of a great worth.
Dear Jake, I am sorry that I care more about my grades than you. As a social worker, the reason I am studying social work is to help someone like you, and not to get myself some good good grade for my social work module. I do not know why I am such a coward, and nothing will excuse me for what I have failed to do for you.
But I am writing this story, Jake, for children like yourself, in the hope that someone who read this story will feel for children like you, and will be a good social worker. Someone who really will stand up for you, and love you. Someone who will be there for you and hug you. Someone who will impact the life of children like yourself, and make a difference for you.
Dear Jake, let's hope one day, the social work scenario in Singapore will change and children like you will meet people who genuinely care for them. For you, I write this story, and for you, I dedicate this story.