PITTSBURGH—Thomas A. Edison High School’s new international student, Joseph Ombale, who saw his family, friends, and neighbors brutally murdered and mutilated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been described by classmates as a “total weirdo,” and “kind of a spaz,” sources confirmed Tuesday.
The awkward 16-year-old, who went to bed every night fearing he would be woken by the sound of armed rebels bursting through his front door, reportedly keeps to himself throughout the school day, has been called a “dipshit” behind his back by numerous students, watched his entire village burn to the ground as part of a civil war that has raged on for 20 years, and is beginning his first year in an American high school.
“I don’t know, I think he’s kind of strange,” sophomore Claire Moman said of Ombale, who has seen more the 50 people, including his grandmother, get hacked apart with machetes. “He never talks to anyone during homeroom and he just stares out of the window a lot.”
“During the fall sports pep rally, he just sat there and didn’t cheer or anything,” Moman continued, referring to the now brother and sister-less Ombale. “Connor [Benson] says he might be retarded. ”
Calling him a “freaking dork,” students have told reporters they wouldn’t be caught dead sharing a lunch table with Ombale, the only one of his childhood friends not kidnapped and forcibly recruited in the rebel army, and the only current student at Edison High who was ever forced to suppress his screams by militiamen while his mother was tortured and raped multiple times by multiple soldiers and then murdered.
In one embarrassing incident last week, class sources confirmed that Ombale let out a brief, nervous shriek during 2nd period Biology when the teacher loudly closed the classroom door. The sound reportedly triggered a memory in which Ombale’s best friend was gunned down with an AK-47, and prompted his classmates to laugh at him and ask, “Dude, seriously, what is your problem?”
In addition, multiple students said Ombale, who once spent six hours hiding beneath his dead relatives’ bloodied bodies in order to avoid detection by those looking to kill him and any other members of his village, has shown little enthusiasm for P.E.'s basketball unit, with several of his teammates holding him directly responsible for losing three games in a row.
"On offense, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and on defense he just lets his man get around him most times,” said Mark Conover, 16, referring to the teenager who knows what charred flesh smells like and could do nothing to stop rebel soldiers from disemboweling a pregnant woman right before his eyes. "He's so fucking annoying."
Many students commented on the fact that Ombale skipped last Friday’s back-to-school carnival and ice-cream social, didn’t sign up for any committees, and chose not to participate in float decorating for next month’s upcoming Spirit Week.
Come December, it will have been nine months since he watched his father dragged into the village square and shot in the forehead.
“He’s such a loser,” said Danica Martray of the boy who has seen infants sliced in half, grew up accepting the inherent risk that he might step on a landmine while playing soccer, and has witnessed large groups of men and women grieving hysterically. “I swear to God he was born without a personality. He just makes everyone else uncomfortable.”
“Amanda was assigned to be his lab partner in Chemistry and she’s trying to get out of it,” she added. “I seriously can’t imagine anything more horrible than that.”
With classmates saying there is little to no chance of Ombale ever fitting in at the school, especially because he dresses weird and doesn’t even know what “Blurred Lines” is, students told reporters they wished he would just go back to wherever it is he came from.