Last night a guy follows me into a dark and abandoned street…

April 2014 — İstanbul, Turkey

 

Last night a guy follows me into a dark and completely abandoned street (right in front of my door) and tries to talk to me.

Says he wants to talk to me.

I have a sixth sense for perverts. This is no lost tourist asking for directions. And the innocent do not attempt harmless chitchat in the obscurity of darkness.

I whip around! I SNARL.
GO AWAY. I DON’T want to talk to you.

He keeps coming closer and tries to keep talking anyway.

Go AWAY. I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.
I growl at him with all the pent up aggression that has built up in me from having to deal with the endless perverted sicko dickheads, dozens by the hour.

He wavers but he opens his dirty little mouth again,
and this time I yell at him. I feel as though the hatred in my voice might just be able to push him down. Down onto his slimy ass.

He is defeated. He knows he has to go, but he makes a desperate jab for my hair, too cowardly to make a move for my face, and too dastardly to simply turn around and go. He slaps my hair into the air and BOLTS. It may seem an odd and pointless gesture, but we both knew exactly what that meant.

It was contempt. It was disrespect. A pathetic attempt at a display of dominance…. gone pitifully awry, betraying more than anything… *COWARDICE*. He couldn’t properly take advantage of me… so he contents himself with feebly flicking my hair to the side. A meek but direct challenge to my command that he stay AWAY from me!

He bolts. I ROAR!!!!!!

HEY!! HEY!!! HHHHEEEEEEEEEY!!!!!!!!

…with a growl that would have enthralled a heavy metal fan.

In my fury I scream at him more senseless threats, raging on in unbridled anger… in a full-throated scream.

But I do not chase after him very far. This is sadly all to familiar to me now. My fury is great.. but my passion burns swiftly. I am able to calm down.

. . .

Much, much worse is the disappointment… the crushing crushing disappointment I feel at the reaction of the people around me I’ve subsequently confided in. Much, much worse is the disgust. The disgust I feel might poison myself and all the poor fools around me. I relate my hot fury and confess that the wretched sense of indignation still lingers as I wish that I had had a way to hurt the offender. To grab him by the hair and cruelly plunge his weasel face into a boiling pot of his own putrid cowardice…

 

By one guy I’ve been told that I’m overreacting to the catcalls on the streets. Maybe I should be flattered. He said.

If disappointment could burn………

To another male friend I said I wanted to learn to defend myself.

He told me to get a longer skirt.

 

I am now sitting in front of my computer, seemingly calm.

I am NOT calm.

I AM NOT CALM.

originally written : Nisan 2014 / April 2014 / İstanbul, Turkey

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Kali Combative Sparring

We put on the sparring gear—all of it: brightly colored bulky coats covered up and down in little spongy blocks, black utility fasteners in the back, the clunky helmet contraptions, and slippery, smelly arm guards strapped to our forearms.

We look like Lego samurai, we look like pixelated, primary-color, video game characters from the 90s, we look like thug crayons that escaped from the crayon box and got jacked up on crayon steroids.

The arm guards are just two chunky slabs of stinky sweaty padding, Velcro-ed to each arm, covering and confining them from above the elbow down to my fingers, padding the vulnerable back of my hand, but leaving the sides lamentably exposed, and rendering my fist dull and slow to move. And the Darth Vader headgear…. Oi… that thing is a menace. None of us like to spar with that thing pressing down on the tops of our skulls and down on either shoulder, all but refusing to move with the head, obscuring not only our peripheral vision, but basically all our vision, its thick metal bars running across our eyes. And for me, the helmet is also just too big. It is so ill-fitting, I have to choose between putting my chin on the chin-rest, but pressing and folding my ears into spaces where ears were not designed to go; or putting my ears rightfully into the ear protectors earholes, but have the chin-rest… rest on my throat. In the end, I compromise—somehow—with my chin on the rest—good—, one ear tightly managed up against the ear pad, not in the earhole—not bad—, and finally, with my right ear folded forward onto itself—not good. I get two out of three into place, but the helmet keeps turning sideways to look to the left.

Still, I have to look ahead, and I have to look sharp. My opponent is surprisingly fast and extremely strong. Twice my size, and with many years of training over me, he is, at first, unwilling to hit such an easy target… but the guro is threatening him, inciting him, yelling at him, NOT to go easy on the girl. “You’re being a jerk! You go easy on her—how will she ever prepare to fight?!”

I have no room nor time to be timid. I have to swing first.

And I have to swing hard.

* * *

At the end of two long bouts of beating, of panting, of thrashing… he starts to grab at my sparring stick. The first time he snatches it, I’m so oblivious, I barely even register why my arm has stuck fast mid-swing. I flounder and flail about frantically, cluelessly, up against him, a pitiful fish flopping and flapping feverishly, uselessly, up against a wall of glass. He has my weapon pinned so perfectly down with his elbow so that I cannot move my arm nor get out of his range. He starts hacking away at my bare hands. I guess I shouldn’t have shucked off the sweaty, cumbersome arm guards after all….

The guro separates us, and starts us up yet again. “Handa… LABAN!

I still have no clue what to do. I just smash away, a blind hurricane motivated by fear and motivated by courage, until—again!—my weapon arm freezes suddenly in place! I cannot budge. Stuck. He whacks away again, beating at on my open flank again, striking at my bare knuckles… OWWW!! I ignore the sharp pain. I ignore the stick, its unrelenting assault. I focus on wrenching my arm out, trying to pull free from his iron grip…  almost..!! ..harder… 

…PULLLLL…!!!!!!

But then, as I finally pry myself away, he grabs my Lego armor and yanks it hard. I roll to the floor.

AH HAH! NOW I KNOW WHAT TO DO—NOW I HAVE IT! I must tackle and attack! My brain shows me what I must do! I must run into that punishing stick, I must dive upon my attacker, and not away! I must forget about the point system, I must grab his armor, I must kick, I must scramble! I will claw, I will wrestle, I will berserk! I must seize back my weapon and continue the fight, no matter how!! No matter the technique, I must attack! I know what to do! I am SO READY!!!!!

 

I sink back into my fight stance, cranking my fist tight around my weapon, fear and courage both gone. This time I am only eager, I am only IMPATIENT!

 

But… Guro does not start the match. It is game over.

“NO!!!!!!!!!! NO! I am SO NOT DONE!!!!”

Guro laughs. “You’re done!”

“NOOOOO!”

“Yes! You fell! It’s Game over.”

 

DAMMIT!

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.

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…………………………………next time . . .

 

injured hands after kali sparring
the aftermath
injured hand kali injury
doctor demands rest…

* * *

Tagalog glossary:

  • guro : teacher
  • handa : ready
  • laban : fight

le dimanche 31 juillet 2016 Gongju, South Korea