IT first happened when I was seven. A boy in my class tried to give me a giant Valentine’s card, and a bear holding a heart-shaped “I love you” sign. I said I didn’t want them and he burst into tears. Big, blubbery, seven-year-old tears, in the middle of the playground. Everyone in the vicinity stared.
I don’t remember how I ended up in possession of the card and the bear. I suspect a teacher told me I had to accept them. We were friends, me and the boy. We played together. But I had said no. The lesson was learned at an early age: his feelings matter more than yours. Look, you’ve upset him. Why can’t you just be nice?
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Published in The National on May 25 2018. This column was shortlisted for the 2018 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.