“So, the moral of the story is, if you try hard, you can become a hero!” the teacher smiled at everyone, and snapped the large picture book close, placing it on the floor.
“Yay! I will become a hero!” cried out Lionel. Lionel was one month older than me, and he was retarded. If he wasn’t, he would not be the bottom of the class, which is the exact opposite of me.
I am Esplanade Chee Cheng Kiang, and I am smart. My father is the CEO of some large company that specializes in insurance, and my mother is a manager in the Ministry of Education. I can play the piano, violin, flute and recorder, and I recently got my Silver in Survival Skills for Swimming. I am in the best primary school in Singapore, and when I am 12 I will ace my PSLE and get into Raffles Institution, the best secondary school in Singapore.
Anyway, I slapped Lionel on the head, and said to him, “You will not be a hero! Heroes don’t exist! Mama says you will become a toilet cleaner when you grow up!” This set Lionel bursting into tears. Score. The teacher looked at me apprehensively, but I knew that she could not do anything, because I had not done anything wrong, like eating in class or running on the field without my PE attire. Besides, what I had just said was true. And also, my father was a CEO and my mother was a manager and if she hit me she would be sued till she goes bankrupt.
The part about Mama was true, by the way. I had a habit of telling Mama about how weak my classmates are academically, just to make sure she did not think I was not catching up with the schoolwork and with my classmates. Not that I had to. Every semester, she would get my report book, and see the “Class Position: 1/40” in small print at the bottom of the page. And then, she would hug me and say how I will become like my father.
My father is a success story. My paternal grandparents were rich too, and my grandfather sent my father to the best schools, even sending him overseas for his collegiate studies, where the education is much better. This enabled my father to have the vision to set up his own insurance company, which is now the second largest in Singapore. Therefore, my parents say that when I graduate from Raffles Junior College at 18, they will send me to Britain to take a degree in medicine.
I like science. When I was really, really, young, I was still in a state of mild retardation. I used to think that there was a god controlling the world, as that was the only explanation for the world. However, I was soon introduced to science. At seven, my aunt (who had two Mercedes and a big house, even though she seemed to do nothing but play mahjong with her friends the whole day) sent me a large science encyclopedia book. I read it in two weeks, and I received enlightenment.
The school bell rang. Everyone else except me packed their bags and rushed off. What was the point? Even if they went home a minute earlier than me, they would spend it watching cartoons or playing that dumb colorful game, Maple Story, which made them all stupid and addled their brains for life. (Or at least, that was what my parents and teachers told me.)
“Um, Esplanade?” the teacher called. I gave a loud “tsk” and pretended not to hear. After three months of knowing me, she had still not learnt how to pronounce my name. I can understand when my classmates call me Esplanade as in ‘lemonade’, but when my teacher does that all the time, it really gets on my nerves.
“Esplanade, come here for a moment please?” I scowled, and walked to her desk. She frowned, but succeeded into turning that into a forced smile as I approached her. I knew long ago that she secretly hated me for spoiling the class, like calling Lionel a retard every other day, or laughing at everyone’s sub-perfect spelling results.
“As much as I hate to – I mean, I am very proud of you! You have been chosen to sit for the Gifted Education Programme entrance test! The GEP is –“
“I know what the GEP is. I knew from when I was seven that I would sit for it around now, and that I would get in and continue to ace the classes.” I responded in a monotone I was sure would irritate her.
“Alright, then. Take this form, sign it and bring it back tomorrow.” She left, muttering a profanity.
I sat for the test, not leaving a single blank. I got into the GEP, of course, and my last words in my old class on the last day of primary three were “Lionel is a retard”. After that, I went to the principal’s office to listen to a lengthy speech of congratulations.
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