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Meet Kunal, better known as “The Bully” by his classmates and teachers. Although you might not think it, he has his side of story. Here it is.

The infamous fight: Sometimes, when I cannot express my emotions in words, I hit. In my mind, hitting is the perfect solution to get back at others. How else do I stand up for myself? All the people in my class think I am ‘notorious’. They have labelled me as the “kid who causes trouble.”

However, there are many occasions when the other kids tease me or even make fun of me, nobody seems to give those experiences any importance. I remember when Vikram and Raunak pulled my pants down in front of the entire class during the dance session, no one supported or helped me. I was embarrassed, angry and humiliated. But when I punched Ishaan and he hurt his elbow, I was scolded by my teachers and parents. No one heard my side of the story, I had punched because he was teasing me and calling me out by hurtful names. My classmates’ parents ganged up and forced the principal for my rustication. I was not allowed to go to school for two days. I felt lonely and misunderstood until I started getting help.

Help from Counsellor: When I met my counsellor, I didn’t want to talk to him. But eventually, I realized that he meant no harm. We used to meet in a classroom with green walls where I could see big coconut trees from outside the window. At first, I thought he was not going to understand me, but slowly I started feeling safer in his company. He didn’t judge me for my inability to make shapes or switch between lessons quickly. Over a period of time, I started sharing my deepest secrets with him. Never have I told anybody about my love for classical Hindustani music or the fact that I’m a good swimmer. I don’t want anybody to know about these things in school as well. I want to be like the football captain, strong, muscular and handsome. And all the cool kids in school are good at football. I loved football and dreamed of taking off my shirt, swirling it in the air, shouting at the top of my voice and running around the field when I win the football match for my school. But, somehow, I never got selected in the school team. My parents kept blaming me for not being good enough at sports and academics. I had stopped talking to them. All they told me was how good my younger sister is at academics which I didn’t like.

Parent-teacher partnership: Since the counsellor has entered my life, I can see some positive changes. In school today, my teacher handed me a fidget toy. She asked me to play with it if I felt uneasy or anxious which for me was cool. Also, my parents have started taking interest in my life. They listen to my side of the story and do not blame me anymore if I have hit any student in the school if any student teased me and I think I must have a good enough reason to hit anybody now. I still have difficulty coping with anger. But I try to think rationally. I still feel lonely, so I talk to my cousin. I still feel that, “I don’t fit in,” but I try to focus on the things I am good at and think I will get better.

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