I still remember how the boys – six of them – charged towards my table while I was alone and waiting for R who was still ordering his lunch. The canteen was packed with noisy, boisterous young students restless in the tropical afternoon, and the brute physique of the bullies made them look like men amidst the crowd. Their head bobbed up and down like a shark’s fin above the surface of smaller boys whizzing across the tables and running across food stalls. One of the boys swiftly grabbed my arm, while another threw a huge punch to my shoulder. The others shook my food tray violently that the soup spilled, the rice scattered, the few bits and pieces of beef fell on the canteen floor. They also shook my table, started harassing me, started taunting me, calling me names in relentless fashion.
“Who were you calling gay, you sissy? So what, you’re not going to fight back? You’re gay!” shouted Carlo, the leader of the pack.