Islamic school on the weekends and during the summer no longer became an option for many reasons. One of them was money, nothing is ever free, and the other was our decision as a family to discontinue my education there. If I wasn’t learning anything new, then it wasn’t necessary. My father took up supervising my Quran memorization at home. One thing about about Uncle A that has never changed is love of arguing. If there’s nothing to argue about, he will create something. He was doing well with his pharmacy business, but he always found time to argue with my father about things. One of their fights went overboard and he threatened to snitch my father out to the police because of his job.
It was almost a daily routine to sit down and listen to my father tell us stories about his narrow escapes from the police after work. NYPD would raid their rooms and it used to be much like something you would see on one of those crime drama shows. Undercover police would watch their places of operation on a daily basis, but were easy enough to spot. My father had a worker that had a lot of gambling debt and the police used that as a weak point to use him a mole in my father’s network. One of their unexpected room raids was caused by his defection and it involved jumping out of a three story window to escape. One of his employees broke a leg from the jump and got caught. A lot of times, my father would come home past midnight and my mother would argue with him about his line of work. When she was at her wit’s end, she would call him a criminal to his face and to me when I would ask about certain things that were going on. They had to do a lot of lying especially when reporting taxes to cover for his illegal source of income and all of this was way over my head.
The test that determines eighth grade graduation was a source of a lot of stress and studying. Most of the specialized schools that I applied to rejected me so I was automatically enrolled in William L. Dickinson High School. The graduation ceremony was a lonely one since my friend and I had parted ways close to the end of the year. Social activities that we had in school consisted of mandatory dance class supervised by Mr. L which was a dicey subject. I had told my parents and my father said that it was a dirty activity and I couldn’t partake in it. Had to relay the message to Mr. L and explain that I couldn’t do it if it involved dancing with a partner. He just rolled his eyes and mumbled something under his breath then designated me as the record player during the dance sessions. He eventually found a way around it by having me partake in the Cha Cha dance that we did en mass without partners. We made an agreement not to tell my parents about it.
My main anxieties about high school had to do with being in such a large school that was a long bus ride from home and the stories of violence that circulated that public school.