Thursday, January 22, 2004

The biggest school bully I've ever known.

I think she deserves to be mentioned, by name if I still remember it. Her name was Veronika Georgievna (in Russia you address teachers with first name and patronymic). Her last name was Romantsova, I think, but not 100% sure anymore. She was a teacher of Russian language and literature in school number 238 in Leningrad during the years 1983-1985 when I was there, and probably for a while before and after. She was also a patriot and a communist, at least in action - I am not sure she really was a party member.

Here is the most memorable scene from those times. The kid, Raphael, was the only black guy in class (very rare in Russia), the only one whose father was a foreigner (almost unheard of) and the only one whose family was openly trying to leave Russia (not as rare, but considered very bad by people like V.G., especially if people were very open about it, like Raphael was. She often said nasty things to and about him. One day, during a lesson:

VG: "And among you, children, is sitting a real live enemy."
VG points at R
VG: "Stand up, enemy!"
R stands up
VG:"Are you an enemy?"
R, grinning: "Yes."
VG:"See, children, this boy will move to America, and if they'll pay him enough dollars he'll press a button and throw a nuclear bomb on Russia. Will you press the button?"
R, grinning: "I will."
VG, howling on a brink of stroke: "You eat Soviet bread, you drink Soviet milk, and you hate Soviet Union!"
At this point Raphael gently reminded her that he'd gladly eat bread and drink milk somewhere else if the damn Soviet Union just lets him the hell out of there, and then the conversation went downhill from there. VG said everything she thought about Raphael, including describing the process of his conception and the alleged loose morals of his ancestors and predicting that he'll grow up to be a criminal (he eventually grew up to become a software engineer and a very nice person, and now lives in New York far away from crazy communists). Raphael seemed to take her with a grain of salt and a lot of humor, which pissed her off even more.

Not everyone she bullied had Raphael's good humor. She made somebody cry in her class at least once a week, and that's only our class. I remember her spending one perfectly good literature class telling a crying girl named Natasha that her (Natasha's, not VG's) new haircut meant that she is a nazi whore, and everyone else that Natasha will surely put out for them. She spent another lesson telling us how Olga's mom was a prostitute (which was AFAIK not true). She yelled at me for thinking bad thoughts more times than I can remember, and at many other people, too.

She died in 1991, right after the USSR fell apart. I think it was very symbolic. I heard it from Raphael, who was not gloating as much as I, even though she was much more evil to him. But then Raphael is a nicer person than me.

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