Sparrow Girl Stories
a collection of childhood memories
text and illustrations by Aletta Mes 2006

The Tree of Many Souls

A Sunday Walk in the Polder

The Great Ape

The Sinking Man

Bandages and Red Tulips

Tonnie's Yellow Dress

Being an Only Child


Meeting Death

Can't Ether

Needles and Chocolate Animals

There are no small floods...

First Snow

The Taai Taai Pop

Overnight in the Country

Oome Leen and the Whatjemecallits

One Night Across the Street

The Night the Refinery Blew Up 

The School Bully 


Easter and the Laws of Thermodynamics 

The School Bully

The little boy across the street was quite horrible to me when I was in kindergarten, and his older brother would stand and laugh as he kicked and hit me. Prompted by my father one day to say what was bothering me I spurted out "the boy across the street hits me". Dad asked me to point out the boy next time he came by.

A few weeks later, there he was, walking by with a sneer on his face. He was quite the mature bully for one no more than 6 years of age. He was walking along the dyke road, alone but as was often the case carrying a whipping stick. It must have been something he used on other children and quite probably the neighbourhood cats and dogs. I know that hat my dog didn't like him one bit and would growl as he came near.

"That's the boy" I told my father.

"Hey", said my father in one of his most commanding tones, which was rare and I was quite taken aback by it. The boy reeled round, and his mouth was falling open with that look of not knowing whether to stay frozen or turn and run. He stayed frozen on the spot. For what seemed like a very long time as my father slowly came toward him.

My father was a tall and lanky man, and this weekend was still in his army uniform which must have added considerably to the impact. "I hear", he said, again at a most commanding tone and clasping his hands behind himself, "You've been hitting my daughter." He motioned to me and stayed glued to the spot also, not knowing whether it would be acceptable to smirk or not.

"My daughter is not allowed to hit anyone, and she is a good girl". Well, now I was positively gleaming with something very near pride. "However, I should have told her she can hit back if she is hit first." Then daddy turned to me. "Aletta", which was my cue to come near, "Aletta can really hit quite hard, did you know that?"

By now the little boy's eyes were flitting around, making eye contact with dad and the ground ahead of him equally, not looking at me at all. "No", he answered.


"Yes, dad"

"Show this boy how hard you can hit"

I made my best fist, just as daddy taught me with my thumb on the outside. Clenched my jaw and thew and air punch.

"And," he continued "she can hit even harder if she stands with her knees slightly bent".

Suddenly I remembered the last time dad tried to teach me fighting styles, he knew some jujitsu and savate. I put my feet slightly further apart and bent my knees slightly, digging the balls of my feet into the gravel on the dyke road. My fist was tightly tucked into my wait and I looked the little boy (who was still quite a bit taller) straight in the eyes. I was feeling very ready and able, but also a bit nervous. As the possible bad things that could happen were flooding through my head. I could fall and look foolish was the most horrifying. I'd take my lumps happily but not have to look foolish, not in front of my father.

"Well, Aletta, hit him."

Remarkably without hesitation my fist sprung from my wait and exactly in the little boy's mouth. His tooth grazed my knuckles. I had hit him just hard enough to make him groan and yelp. He looked at my father, wondering if he could run or should continue standing there for another. I was winding up for another, he had hit me plenty. He wiped a tiny bit of blood from his lip, but all the teeth were intact. Strange but I wouldn't have been happy if any of the teeth were damaged. That would have been too much. Even this had sickened me slightly. I really didn't like hitting at all.

"She hits pretty well doesn't she"

"Yes Sir" the boy said, nervously changing his weight from foot to foot.

"From now on, if she hits you, she will hit you back, understand?"

"Sorry sir."

Well, that took me by surprise, sorry, he said sorry. My dad released him by telling him to go home and tell his dad what happened. I had no idea then, but now, it must have been the worst of it, to tell who'd hit him hard enough to bruise and make him bleed. Punched by a little girl. He never hit me again. He was at times even quite nice to me. Best of all, it stopped the other kids picking on me as well. It was for the longest time, the last time I hit anyone.


Other Stories in this series will be posted every few weeks or so

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Sparrow Girl and other stories index - Stories of my Childhood 1954-60 - Story Index