The young mother was agitated. Her son’s results were declared. The class teacher announced the names of the top three in the class and her son’s name was not in it. “ Now he is depressed. This is mental abuse of the worse kind.”
I looked at her with surprise. Was it rocket science? Her son’s name was not there because the blockhead wasn’t good enough. Was it so difficult to understand?
Perhaps she belonged to the times when Bill Gates and his army of nerds had invaded our houses with weird jargon like windows and mouse. Probably that generation invented this word ‘abuse’. I am sure it never existed when we were young.
As kids, we were never abused. We knew how to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we did falter… and suffered.
There was this math teacher who threw a duster at any one who gave a wrong answer. All we did was cheerfully duck. He was remarkably accurate but no one ever got hurt thanks to our alertness. I am not sure if that duster did any good to our math but we sure became adept at ducking . It reflected on the playground in the way we ducked bouncers. Our talent was well appreciated. I was even invited to a school to display my skills. The sports teacher needlessly took the credit. The math teacher was the one who should have taken a bow.
Then there was this geography teacher who thought that a cane was not enough for the thick skin on our beaux culs. So he kept the wooden leg of a broken chair. The beating was so severe that it was impossible to sit for weeks. One day tragedy struck. His thirteen year old son died. The grief stricken teacher renounced the leg. We could now sit comfortably even despite giving wrong answers. However we had golden hearts which dripped with goodness. We felt sorry. One day the whole class went as a group to the staff room and informed the teacher that we know his son was precious and could not be replaced. But still he could consider as his sons. The teacher broke down and wept hysterically. We all felt good. The next day, however, the leg appeared once again on his table.
It taught us a lesson that no text book teaches. It taught us that doing a good deed may not always be good.
It never occurred to us to complain to our parents. There was an unwritten code, an omerta, which we all followed religiously. What happened in school stayed there.
I grinned as a thought crossed my mind. what if her son had teachers like we did. But I had no intention of giving her delicate sensibilities any shock.
So I feigned a shocked expression and opened my eyes as wide as possible, “ Really! That is awful. You must bring up this matter in the next parents meeting. Or better still find yourself a good lawyer. Sue those heartless people.” The lady looked at me with respect. “ Ah these wise men. It’s always a pleasure to unburden yourself in front of them. Trust them to give the best advice.” I imagined that she thought.
I felt good too. But as the young lady left, a cross fleeted my mind. What would have my parents done? I guess I will never be able to find the answer to that one since both my parents are no more. The chances are even those gentle souls , my teachers, are dead too.