Did Your Goldfish Die?

Malini Seshadri

Did-your-goldfish-die “Did you have a nice weekend?”
“Yes, Miss”
“I’m Miss Cruz”
“Good morning, Miss Cruz”.
“Good”, declared Ms Cruz.
“Please take out your notebooks and write a poem of four lines on something you did or something that happened in the weekend.”

Stunned silence. I mean, we were just seven or eight years old, right? Practically babies.

And then came the exclamations, protests, expostulations. How…but… we can’t…

Ms Cruz just sat at her table unmoved, and looked through some papers. “You have till the end of the period”, she said calmly without looking up. “So get started.”

Some of my classmates were practically in tears. But I felt this almost insane desire to jump up on the desk and dance. Poems! I loved poems! My fingers tingled as I picked up my pencil. And then my brain froze.

At the end of that interminable period we handed in our “poems”. Two days later, during the next English period, they came back with comments. Mine said, “Shows great promise”. A warm tide of gratitude flooded through me. And then I heard my name being called. I was being asked to read my poem aloud to the class. Goosebumps of a different kind. I shuffled to the front of the classroom and mumbled out my four-line creation. Polite applause.

I knew I would have to face jibes and barbs from my classmates. My close friends were happy for me, but there were a few who, for the next few days, called out “Teacher’s Pet” and “Madam Poet” as I walked by.

But it had been worth it.

Had that been my moment of epiphany? That first period of the first day of Class Three? It must have been. How else would I have decided that I wanted to be a school teacher? A teacher of English, a teacher of poetry. A teacher who would discover great promise in her students… or at least in one student!

By the time I got to high school, I had known for some time that teaching was my inner calling. But, having acquired the practical wisdom to conceal potentially contentious opinions as long as possible, I gave deliberately vague responses when asked about my plans. My parents, secure in the knowledge that my grades were good, were content to assume that I was “keeping all options open.”

One day I braced myself and declared to my parents that I wanted a career in teaching. Teaching? We can see about that later. Many years to go before any such decisions have to be made.

But the decision is made, I insisted. I want to be a teacher. Of English. In primary and middle school.

Utter consternation! This was a googly they were ill prepared for.

What? But your science grades are so good. Your maths teacher also told us…..

Malini Seshadri is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Chennai. She can be reached at malini1seshadri@gmail.com.

This is an article for subscribers only. You may request the complete article by writing to us at editorial@teacherplus.org.