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The spotlight envelops me and masks the faces of the audience. The cold metal strings juxtaposed against the heat beating down on me. I let rip a riff and allowed myself to be transported away by the music. Such is the freedom.

Music has long been my solace. It calms me as I lose myself into every beat and rhythm. It takes the anger within me and turns it into a voice that I share with whomever is willing to listen.

It is truly the best of me. However it wasn’t always like this.

I used to be picked on by my classmates during my primary school studies as I did not interact well with others. More accurately, I wasn’t that fond of interacting with people. As far as I can tell, I was bullied solely for being introverted.

I remember times when my classmates would pelt me with paper bullets. Scatter the content of my pencil cases to the ground. Hide my books. Destroy my homework. Just generally being a huge nuisance really. Perhaps my general lack of reaction spurred them on.

It was always the gang of five who initiated their “pranks” and it fascinated me that they seem to do it even though it appeared as if they were angry at being angry with me. Anyway, it is pointless to try to dissect the actions of bratty ten-year olds. What the bullying did make me into was someone full of angst.

Things were much better when I went onto my secondary school studies as most of the gang of five were scattered. Two of them went to the same school as me but were placed in different classes and while I sometimes see them in school, I was generally spared from the troubles.

The peace ran out in Form 4 when I found myself in the same class as my two tormentors from the past. We did not interact much in class and generally stayed out of each other’s way.

The truce was broken shortly after I got close to my classmate Janet. It is almost cliché to say this, but one of the boys was interested in Janet and took poorly to our blossoming relationship.

Soon came the taunting, the shoulder jabs, throwing of my stationary. Put it in another way - really childish things.

I snapped after two weeks. Maybe it was the residual anger from my primary school bullying. But I suspect it has to do with putting my foot down in front of Janet.

I flung a chair to signal the start of the brawl and went in fists blazing. What followed were bloody noses and a lengthy detention for all three of us.

It was during detention that I got to know Mr. Chew, the teacher in charge of us for the detention. For a teacher in charge of detention, he was not as stern as I thought and took his time to talk to us.

Mr. Chew was also an avid musician and always told us this: “an instrument might be spoiled by a child, but a child who plays music will never be spoilt”.

Looking back at it now, the saying is logically fallacious but it did get me to try my hands on playing on an old acoustic guitar which I borrowed from my uncle.

To be honest, it was love at first strum. The guitar was surprisingly easy to pick up, at least the basics chords that allowed me to play pop songs. I was soon playing songs for Janet (yes. I did get the girl).

I was able to let the music carry my thoughts and I found singing my mind much easier than speaking. I am by no means an accomplished guitarist but I do like to play the occasional gig at friends’ party, something that seems to conflict with my introverted nature.

For anyone with that anger pent up within, pick up something that you can devote yourself to. It does not necessarily have to be music and you can even speak through football if you so wish. The important thing is to put your effort in a pursuit and you will one day uncover the best of you.

Bernard Tan
Bernard Tan