First Loves

When I was at boarding school, it was my misfortune to be in love with my bullies. Their dark suaveness thrilled my bones.

In my second year at boarding school, my form mates and I moved to our main houses. My main house was Oberoi, known for inconveniently humorous seniors, their nocturnal preoccupations aided by our sottish housemaster, who only ever showed up at midnight, drunk, to bemoan his marriage to our matron, and close the night to the hilarity of “his boys” with an awful rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”

The Sc Formers, the final year students, were desperate to be entertained. We were fresh meat. They discovered they could capitalize on my creativity and coyness, my inability to separate fact from fiction. One of them, shaped like a porpoise, with little, mean, dark eyes, was especially fond of me. In a satirical fashion.

When prep started, he would summon me to my room. There, he would splay his bulk across my bed and start massaging his crotch. I assigned no meaning to his crotch-love. Balls—footballs, basketballs, ping-pong balls—were our passion in boarding school. It was, as a novelist who graduated from our school commented, “all balls.”