Born in exile, I went to school knowing nothing about Spanish, the language of the country in which I lived. I didn’t understand a word of what the teachers and the other kids were saying, and I became very shy.
I couldn’t understand the teachers’ instructions, so I usually looked at what the other kids were doing to make the same. But sometimes, the kid by my side was wrong, and I got scolded without knowing why. It was baffling and frustrating. I wanted to disappear under the table or under whatever would suit me better.
Besides, I had dyslexia, but there was no such thing as special care for kids with special needs those days. All was solved with bad grades and scolding. Thank God my parents understood me and helped me.
I remember distinctly my teacher showing us to write the number two. She said: It’s easy, like a duckling, and she drew a whole line of “ducklings” in the chalkboard, asking us to do the same in our notebooks. I was looking with desperation to the drawing and asking myself:
-ok, ducklings, easy, but in which direction are they swimming?
No matter what mental calculations I would do, the result was always wrong. My number two was going the opposite way.
I was sure that I was going to fail almost every time. And that made me feel insecure
When I grew up I developed my own tricks to deal with my problems to read and write. In fact, I devoted my entire professional life to read and write as a journalist and writer.
I even learned to resist my natural impulse to hide, and have spoken in public, even declaimed literature and recited poems.
I guess, we all learn how to survive in our environment.