A few days ago, I read the news online of a 14-year old student in Penang who committed suicide after being accused of stealing her teacher’s iPhone. According to the report, the student firmly denied doing the dirty deed but her denials fell on deaf ears. She was also struck for failing to own up and the teacher threatened to lodge a police report.
Well, I was thinking that if she was really innocent, she could have told the teacher to go ahead and make that stupid police report.
But I digress.
I won’t judge her for it because you wouldn’t dream of challenging your teachers at that age. Not at first. I also won’t judge her because I was in her shoes during my school years. Heck, I was even younger than her when I was falsely accused on two separate occasions for having done something I didn’t even do!
Both occasions took place while I was still in primary school in Standard 6.
When my Science teacher learnt that someone had been writing hate mail to him, I was the first person he blamed. All because my classmate and I were caught fooling around in class one day, and he assumed we started sending hate mail to him because he caught us in the act. We denied these accusations but he refused to believe us. He even called our mothers to school to discuss the severity of the case. Still, there was no proof to show that we had done it. We even had to undergo a test to match our handwriting with the one found in the mail. Neither of our handwriting matched, yet the teacher was adamant that one of us had done it. He refused to talk to us, even going to the extent of refusing to grant us permission for the toilet pass. Eventually, the culprit was found but he hadn’t bothered to apologise for his error in judgment. He chose to believe that we had done it or made the culprit write it for us.
The second incident took place in that same year with a different teacher but for the same reason — that I was accused of doing something I hadn’t done.
This time, my tuition teacher accused me of having asked my mother to complete my homework just because I had written the essays in cursive writing. I denied it, of course, as I had completed my homework in school with my classmates as witnesses. They tried standing up for me but the teacher berated them for supporting a liar. I was dismissed from tuition class that day and had my mother called to the tuition centre. My mother denied having done my homework, obviously, because I had completed it at school! Nope. The tuition teacher was having none of it and even had the audacity to accuse my mother of backing me up! Needless to say, I no longer attended that tuition class and in school, I made it a point to avoid that tuition teacher because he happened to also be a teacher at my school.
I only wished I could have told the Penang student that people will say all sorts of things about you but if you know yourself well and stay true to yourself, you don’t have to end your life. No matter where you are, no matter where you go, no matter who you’re with, there will always be people who will try to strike you down. You just have to weather it all, stand firm with your feet planted on the ground, and tell them to do their worse. Only you know who you really are. We have to stay strong and not allow these people to bring us down. Don’t let them throw you under the bus.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. Because now I’m working at a company where the upper management does not believe a word you say, especially if it’s against them for a crime they committed. They will make it look like you were at fault and manipulate the situation so that you were guilty and if you want to keep your job, you had to apologise.
I’ve had my share of false accusations, too. They have all but turned me into a battered knight who continues to put up her shields and draw swords when things turn nasty. Yet, it doesn’t matter how many times you defend yourself, you will always be sentenced to the guillotine.
So I know how it feels, I understand where people are coming from when they are falsely accused of something they never did and then choose to take their lives. But I also know that this won’t solve anything. Suicide would only hurt your loved ones, but it will never make the true guilty party feel remorseful and sorry for what they had done.