When he was just 10, he called his classmate “Black Boy”, and was duly punished.
Unrepentant and unhappy at being chastised, he decided to get justice – by punching that classmate during recess.
“Our parents were summoned to the principal’s office,” said Leslie Quahe of the incident in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Apr 26). “My father walked in and offered an immediate apology, with the assurance he would make me ‘pay’ for my unwarranted indiscretion.”
That would have been the final word on the episode that happened 52 years ago, had the mother of the classmate he had racially abused not intervened.
According to Mr Quahe’s post, the boy’s mother didn’t think that giving Qauhe a painful beating would end the animosity between the two boys. She asked instead that she be allowed to take Quahe to their home every day to have lunch, do homework and play with her son.
“I have never forgotten her summary, ‘We must make them friends and not allow them to be enemies’.”
Mr Quahe told The Pride that his time at his classmate’s home – during which he also sat through lessons in the Quran – was initially meant to go on for a week.
“But we very quickly became best friends and I would spend many years staying with him, like during the school holidays, for example. I became so much a part of the family that his mum would always introduce me as her adopted son,” added Mr Quahe.
He continues to be welcomed at his friend’s home as family, said Mr Quahe, who has been pastor of Bangna Christian Fellowship, a Thai/international church in Bangkok, for the past 16 years.
“We can live and embrace one another if we teach our children to be friends and not enemies,” he said in his post, which was “dedicated to all who have suffered in Christchurch and Sri Lanka with the prayer that parents will see this as an opportunity to make our children friends”.