On a fairly level environment, I should find myself thinking about my mother and father. More often, I find myself thinking about my dear mother. Things that I should tell her. Sometimes my mind grows confused, my memory silts, but I never stop thinking about who she is. It’s always about her. I scarcely think about my father and even when I do it’s usually for the wrong reasons. I don’t hate him, I just don’t see the human in him as I would wish.
Mothers day came and its now behind us. I remember standing at the gate that day, wishing that she was somewhere in the house I was about to step foot. A part of me was terrified, a part of me was worried. Worried for the people who can no longer see or share with their mother the best and worst moments of their life in this universe except in spirit. I thought of what it feels to lose a mother. What it does to a child. That feeling, somewhere in the endless spinning of eternity that one tiny fraction of a second where one wants everything to stop. I have had a taste, but my situation is temporary.
There was a line between him and the other children. He seemed lonely, out of place, rugged and his spirit chastened. He looked shaken never took interest in his classwork or homework. It was also clear, he was the perfect ridicule of his class members. They toyed with his emotions, insulted his sense of decency and worse he was complacent to the extent the edge of his cockiness was rather gone. Miss Tammy though a new teacher, didn’t take long to notice all that Brandon was going through.
It’s easy to say, he was just another kid with a dispaired present. And that kids learn to be tough eventually. Miss Tammy took it upon herself to understand Brandon. To her, there was a foggy area of Brandon’s life, a period shrouded in mist that she wanted to see clearly. It was like the story of the lost sheep. Miss Tammy set out for the lost one.
She studied meticulously from the archives, files that described Brandon’s early years in that school. His grade one teacher described him as a boy full of bliss. Slow to anger and full of a sense of humour. For reasons beyond his scope, he believed Brandon was the kind who would not hurt a fly. He treasured every one. As to his social life, Brandon had every other child call him best friend. In class, Miss Tammy understood that he was the kind who would never shout a “Yes” or “No.” He was the type who would convince you that his “Yes” is a real one. It was clear that his first teacher described him passionately.
His grade two teacher was quite direct. The teacher wrote, “Brandon is a good student and with a ready laugh. He does his classwork and homework neatly and with interest but he is a troubled kid, his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a little difficult.”
Oh, dry land. I’m not afraid of you, but I’m scared of how you fast and readily swallow those we love when they can no longer speak to us. When they cannot say in words how they really care about us. “He always had a clear head, he always concentrated and stayed calm. His mother’s death though had hit him really hard,” his grade three teacher noted. Imagine for a moment and as a child that image you are so used to. Imagine that face disappearing not in your memory but in the flesh. The pain produced not by the absence but just knowing exactly where its slowly becoming but bones.
His grade four records were rather focused on how withdrawn he was. It further stated, that he not only showed no interest in his classwork he didn’t do his homework too. In truth, not that it was his fault, he was just a kid with a lot on his mind and the world on his shoulders.
No matter what we do we can’t control everything. Miss Tammy paused in the wake of her findings. And her morbid fascination for the boy’s information for a moment crushed. Even so, she was delightfully calm that she had spent her time wisely. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, she understood and to her, that was a step. It was clear what the problem was, and for some reason, she felt weak and very ashamed of herself. She thought of how worthy is a child’s joy, how precious is a child’s happiness, how valuable is a child’s laugh. And it’s then that she made her decision. To her, he was that child that needed a soft touch, an easy ride and the provider of love and affection but she was careful. Careful not to make him dependent. She made him a priority.
At the end of the year, it was a tradition that children and teachers changed gifts and presents. It’s not like it was a rule. Miss Tammy was the bearer of all kinds of gift. Every other kid carried expensive gifts wrapped in all manner of colourful boxes. His present was wrapped rather clumsily in an old piece of paper. The rest of the class laughed and laughed when they saw what he had brought. They were like a network of disapproval waves. They were pairs of accusing eyes and pointing fingers. But it was her work to always show them the best in each one of them. It was her duty to raise good children, teach them better morals, but of course, children can be really naughty.
Not everyone gets up in the morning thinking the world is one big, shiny, happy place, where everything sparkles and there’s every touch of ostentation. That’s just not how it works. Miss Tammy knew that too, very well. She felt a sharp pain coupled with guilt as she tore open Brandon’s gift. Inside, there was an old bottle of deodorant which was quarter full and an old bracelet with several missing beads. She could hear loud murmuring and she knew exactly what it was. To stifle what would have been a loud uproar of laughter and scenes of ridicule from the other children. “What a beautiful bracelet!” Miss Tammy exclaimed. She slipped it through her wrist. She then took the bottle of perfume, tapped it a little on her palm and applied it on her dress.
That evening, when the rest of the children were going home, Brandon deliberately stayed behind, and when there was absolute certainty that all the others had left, he started for Miss Tammy’s office. He knocked on the door and walked in. Summoning enough courage he said to her,”teacher, today you smelt the same way my mum used to.” She was not only surprised that he was adorable, she felt it, when he left her office, she locked herself and sobbed uncontrollably.
“This is the first letter I’m writing to you. I did a few to my mother, but all that is in my box of memories. I never thought Id have a teacher like you. And even if it crossed my mind, I was too timid to note the first few days of my life as a child in your class.” Brandon wrote the following year. He had learned the truth based on the premise of healthy treats, teacher Tammy was the best teacher he ever had.
“I remember the first time I wrote you a letter. Its now six years and still, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop writing or get tired of writing along the way. Even if I get tired and I sure hope I will not stop. You still remain my best teacher,” he wrote. He added that he had finished his high school and was the best in his class.
Years later, he wrote another letter. He told her that he had completed his bachelor’s degree in medicine and was now a doctor. He didn’t forget to write the most important part, “she was still the best teacher he ever had in his life.”
“Without you, the world would have been a strange place for me,” he wrote the following year. He told her that he had found a girl and was going to get married. He explained that his father had died a year earlier, and was wondering whether she would accept attending the wedding and sit in that very seat reserved for the groom’s mother. Of course, she accepted. On that day, she sat right at the front and on her wrist that same bracelet still missing several beads and her dress was a strong scent of Brandon’s perfume; the one that reminded him of her dear mother, wafting a sweet pleasant odour filling the air. Brandon’s face was a smile. A smile of happiness and content. His mother wasn’t there, but teacher Tammy was right there smiling back at him on his big day.
Certain moments go on forever, even when they can no longer happen again. Any kindness you do to someone lasts forever, even when you are dead and buried. Like that first gesture of help, that first show of concern. Its what makes it different. Touch someone’s life today. You can be teacher Tammy. And you can just be you. It doesn’t have to be Brandon for our situations can be entirely different, but sometimes someone sure need some help. Its what happens when you help, it doesn’t matter how small or big, you will forever be a miracle a ray of light. You stick in that person’s memory.