I just had finished primary school and left the much hated school with pleasure. I am dyslexic and left handed. In 1957, dyslexia was not understood and left handedness was not accepted. Teachers took it as their personal duty to get rid of my bad habit of writing with my left hand and went on a mission to teach me reading and writing, even if they had to beat it into me. By the end of the school, I could not see a teacher even with my back side.
It was not much better at home. I saw only one way to defend myself, by rebelling all over the line. I saw adults, in general, more or less as the enemy. The less you had to do with them the better it was. So it may be said that peace, at school or at home, was something rare.
Just like I did not choose where to grow up, which primary school to go to. Now as well, I was sent to the athenaeum of Ekeren. Contrary to the advice given by the headmaster of the primary school to my grandparents to send me to Antwerp, to the school of decorative arts.
I let everybody know, from my grandparents to all my friends, that I will not do any effort to do something in the athenaeum and will avoid teachers so far as I could. I did not want any graduation and I did not need one. Nevertheless, deep in myself I still wanted to give it a try to make something from it but that was an illusion. It did not take more than a couple of days to figure out that it was no different than the primary school. It was, again, a big disappointment for me except the classes where they taught us to work with wood and metal. Even the technical drawing class interested me and I made an effort to do well in it.
In the athenaeum, being left handed was not such a big problem anymore because in primary school they taught me to write with my right hand, by hitting me on the knuckles with wooden scale, each time they saw me using my left hand.
The dyslexia was still a problem. Nobody understood why I was so clever in some things and so extremely dumb in some others. Also personally, I found it very strange that I could not read or write one sentence without making unbelievable lot of spelling mistakes or just forgetting to write a complete word in a sentence. For years it stayed bothering me because I liked to write stories down. I had very rich imagination and wanted to write it all down but I was ashamed of my writing. I would hide the stories or I would write as small as possible so no one else could read it but then, even I could not read my own stuff. Thereafter, I started inventing codes, like the spies did in the war, but here again I had much difficulty to decode.
Reading too stayed a problem. I liked to read but for one or the other reason, and I could not figure out how or why, I missed words. So the sentences I read did not make much sense. The solution I found later on was to read everything thrice or more in order to understand what I was reading. Now, I must say that by doing it this way, my reading went better and better in years but during these years of school, being dyslexic was like a cross that hung above my head all the time.