…to Mrs. Coleman

I am not certain what your intentions were, whether there was a plan at all. I can only assume that the decision to make me read to the class was one based on an attempt to shame me. Me, not Lyntin, despite the fact he had been the one to take my book, and all I was guilty of was reading. A teacher punishing a student for reading, seems counterproductive to me.

I will afford you the benefit of context, but it will do little to explain, much less excuse, your actions.

It’s lunchtime and I am buried in a book, Tommo and Hawk by Bryce Courtenay to be precise. I am eleven years old. I concede that it is a bit beyond my age group, but just weeks before you were praising the fact my reading level was sixteen. Lyntin takes the book and runs into the boys’ toilets. I follow him to his dismay and attempt to wrestle my book back. I ask a teacher for help. She berates me for going into the boys’ lavatories, then sees the title of the book and runs off to find you. So much for the authorities being on my side.

Recess is over and two teachers are whispering to each other in front of me. My friends shoot me questioning looks, the classroom is quiet. I keep an eye on my book in your hands. I want it back.

You look at me, then the class, you make a little speech I do not remember the words of, and suddenly I am at the front of the room and my book is put back into my hands and I am asked to read.

You had creased the spine at a particular chapter, a specific page. Through your small square spectacles you tried to read my reaction at your request.

I hesitated a second, I knew which part you are asking me to read. Despite all of the violence, the child abduction and brutality, the torture and war and rape you asked me to read one of the rare moments of tenderness in the story, the part where Hawk loses his virginity. A small glimmer of human intimacy in over 600 pages of strife and survival, you pick that chapter. Who knows what you were thinking.

I looked at you and the small, well concealed victorious grin you held back and my shoulders squared and I cleared my throat.

You didn’t expect me to start reading did you? You weren’t counting on it is my best guess. The moment my high pitched unwavering voice started telling a roomful of your pre-pubescent charges (who between you and me had the combined reading level of an illiterate high school dropout) about silken thighs in the moonlight that you shut this little exercise down and sent me back to my desk.

Did you think you were teaching me a lesson? Which one? Seriously, I am asking.

I learnt that superiors are hardly infallible. Next time think it through first.


3 thoughts on “…to Mrs. Coleman

  1. I remember when that happened. It’s still in my memory the face of the teacher talking it about and the surprise in her face when we told her that you had our approval to read the book.

  2. Suggeriscimi un libro in inglese da far leggera a Richard. A lui piace l’avventura.
    Comincia a parlare un po di sesso con gli amici!

  3. I liked how you challenged your teacher, I don’t know you but i will get so SCARED!!!
    But its even good to challenge an adult. :D

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