written and interpreted by Kris Caballero (May 17, 2018)
Album Track Number
Hearing this song on the radio while driving through the Mojave Desert highways really settled the mood—long drive while listening to a mid-tempo song from the lovely Suzanne Vega. Once I got the title, I read and interpreted the lyrics....and my heart sank in pain.
Given how strong the lyrics are behind this song, I'll be making references to my own personal experiences giving you a glimpse of what I underwent in partial contrast to this song. It'll hurt me personally talking about my story, but it has to be done, so let's start with the first verse:
"My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes I think you've seen me before"
Sung in first person, we're introduced to this wonderful human being named Luka. According to Vega, Luka is a young boy who apparently lives upstairs from her. That sets the scene in some kind of an apartment complex.
Next, Luka says "Yes I think you've seen me before." This is the assumption that being aware of his surroundings, Luka gets the feeling that he was always the "awkward one" whom people subtly notice. We knew someone like this back in school—the outcast, the introverted, the ostracized, the shy one, and so forth. What about us who have never seen Luka before? Then it goes:
"If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight
Just don't ask me what it was
Just don't ask me what it was
Just don't ask me what it was"
When there's some unusual commotion going on in your apartment building, isn't natural to ask what's going on? "Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight," should point the direction of the adults in Luka's home, who are the culprits. Immediately, you're thinking of his parents/guardians. The words "trouble" and "fight" and not asking him what it was are signs of disaster; His household isn't going so well and already it should raise eyebrows. What's going on up there?
"I think it's because I'm clumsy
I try not to talk too loud
Maybe it's because I'm crazy
I try not to act too proud"
When did clumsiness and alleged craziness trigger angst-filled parents/guardians into fighting or yelling at their child and/or each other? Luka, as young as he is, already expresses his low self-esteem, yet seems to wonder why that is. We get introduced to how he feels, and who he is, on the surface and what's the reason behind the arguing going on at home. In short, he's very unhappy, and when a child is depressed, the world around him begins to dim.
"They only hit until you cry
After that you don't ask why
You just don't argue anymore
You just don't argue anymore
You just don't argue anymore"
"They only hit you until you cry?" What kind of parents/guardians do this?! Luka saying never ask why and not argue means he lives with physical abuse. This ought to break a piece of your heart after reading that. How awful is it that an innocent child getting hit and gets yelled at if the child reacts and fights back? Something is very wrong here, and it's such an awful scene.
When I was in elementary school, I often said to myself "don't argue anymore" whenever the bullies confronted me. (Yeah, I was a victim of bullying....twice.) While I slowly grew to stand up for myself and fight back, bullies always came back at me, often with an irrational, illogical reason to continue their incessant pestering. In my case, "don't argue anymore" was a line I can completely relate.
How are you holding up, Luka?
"Yes I think I'm okay
I walked into the door again
If you ask that's what I'll say
And it's not your business anyway
I guess I'd like to be alone
With nothing broken, nothing thrown
Just don't ask me how I am
Just don't ask me how I am
Just don't ask me how I am"
While Luka briefly explains what goes on behind closed doors, he tries not to talk more of what goes on. He's ran out of reasons because he doesn't know why he's a victim when he has done nothing wrong except living and experiencing life.
"Yes I think I'm okay" really hit deep in my soul. This is another thing I've always said to myself after school bullies made their way passed me. Possibly the most embarrassing part is seeing other classmates witness my suffering before their eyes....without helping out. Whenever someone says "I think I'm okay," they're not really okay. Having to "think" that you're "okay" means emotions run high, the mind runs unstable and everything is crumbling—the aches and pains underneath your skin grows at an exponential rate, rendering the person very weak inside. That line is an indirect cry for help without coming off as whiny. Anyone who has been bullied can relate because it's a ruthlessly painful feeling.
I shed tears when Luka gets to "I guess I'd like to be alone." Being alone was something I 'pursued' as I continued my school career. I've never been so mistreated by fellow classmates so much so that I wanted to ditch all school dances and sporting events just to stay home. In college, when I'd wait for my next class, I'd walk two blocks to stay at a residential area where few cars drive by and I can be in touch with my comfort zone and be myself. Staying home meant that I had to discover hobbies and talents I can happily do at home (website management/programming, video production and reading, for example).
In Luka's case, being alone "with nothing broken, nothing thrown" means that objects are involved in this abuse. What kind of parents are these?! I'm amazed Luka is still alive because all this could be deadly. Still, it breaks my heart into atomic quarks knowing that an innocent child is being abused wrecklessly. He goes on to say not to ask him how he is. This tells me he's crying and dying inside. The kid needs help and he wants to survive because he knows there's a quintillion things he wants to sense, feel and experience in this world, but unfortunately cannot. I'm so sorry for your pain, Luka.
No doubt this is one of the songs that make me tear up. Personally, I never had any trouble at home; My parents loved my sister and I, and there was little to no trouble at home. I always will love my parents as they loved my sister and I, so everything was always well. Where did the abuse come from? Elementary school and high school, and being bullied twice was more than traumatizing, it was nearly life-ending for me. I hated the way I was treated, but I did nothing wrong so I didn't know why. Granted this song gears toward parental abuse than school bullying, but it closely ties with it since I can relate to the pain Luka is undergoing.
There always will come things we will never comprehend nor understand, and parents abusing their child(ren) is one of them. With that being said, I'd like to ask a perfectly legitimate question using the album cover Suffer The Children from Tears For Fears:
It hurts knowing that these kinds of things happen. Then again, I can relate: I was, and still am, safe at home but was bullied in school. It wasn't pleasant, and knowing that the only way to get out is to graduate (transferring to another school wouldn't have likely helped, I felt). In an interview back in 1987, Vega explained the inspiration behind this song:
"A few years ago, I used to see this group of children playing in front of my building, and there was one of them, whose name was Luka, who seemed a little bit distinctive from the other children. I always remembered his name, and I always remembered his face, and I didn't know much about him, but he just seemed set apart from these other children that I would see playing. And his character is what I based the song Luka on. In the song, the boy Luka is an abused child—in real life I don't think he was. I think he was just different."
— Suzanne Vega
You know what hurts about that? That little boy could've been me. I have a beautiful relationship with my parents and love them with all my heart, but I certainly am one of those kids who made a little effort to blend in with the other kids.
Why was I bullied? Mainly because of my hair as I was the rare few boys with long hair (it wasn't too long to where I could tie a ponytail). Since long hair in men are considered manly, it makes you think that those who bullied me over my hair likely summed up to one thing: insecurity. As opposed to going back and looking the part, let alone find themselves and who they are, they take out their jealousy and anger into verbal slandering and abuse against others—in this case, me. Being bullied and abused is something NO child(ren) should ever undergo. We are here on this planet for a reason, and when someone, or some people, come along to ruin it for us, it gets tougher and tougher to live. Sadly, this triggers thoughts of suicide, reciprocating such abusive acts when older or thicking skin to become a stronger person. Me personally, I took the high ground and thickened my skin, which is the sole reason why you've landed on this enormous website I've managed, along with my website about books and my website dedicated to my production network. It was a serious struggle, but I pulled through. (To those of you reading this, YOU too can endure!)
Do I still experience something like this? Yes, but this time it's at the workplace. When you work with people who can't admit they're wrong, refuse to apologize for their aggressive behaviors and/or pester and nitpick you and your hobbies, it's triggers that moment you wish you'd never experience again. Time and time again, people say they're nice and openly accepting, but when someone like me comes along who's different than the average heterosexual male, some don't mind while others bombard you with remarks that, eventually, will hit you. Again, I don't understand why people do this. Not like I did anything wrong (one of them involved starting an argument over why I collect movies on Blu-ray as opposed to regular DVDs). These are some things that have no explanation for, but all I know is that some people have problems with the littlest things when getting to know other people. More often than not, without making a scene, I usually drift away from those people.
I want to say this: If you, or anyone you know, is a victim of bullying and feels very lonely without anyone to talk to, refer them to me; I will keep them company and I will talk to them. If there's anything I had trouble with, it's striking a conversation with someone who doesn't understand me. Since I can relate to the pain many of these victims have undergone, and no one wants to chit chat with them, talk to me. If no one wants to accept you, then I will. Let's talk.
(It is with all our hearts that we send to those who have been a severe victim of bullying of all ages, all ethnicities, all genders and all who have been victimized any/every which way.
MUSICSOTROS! and on behalf of SHOWSOTROS! would like to partner up with non-profit organizations and clubs that help combat physical, mental and domestic abuse against children, teenagers and those who suffered from bullying. Thanks to this song by Suzanne Vega, we want to strike a deal in helping promote awareness and laying down strict boundaries in our constantly-changing social interactions. Different-than-normal behavior could lead to judgemental and harsh criticism that may exploit the victim's reactions. When that occurs, it becomes bait for continuous pestering.
Serious leaders of such organizations, or those from the media who support anti-bullying, feel free to contact us as our website is looking for a solid partnership to bring about reducing abuse against our planet's children.)