Friday, March 09, 2007

Glorious Moments in Life

This year ended with yet more sadness and happiness. My students at a school I teach at one day a week, surprised me again with a lovely gesture of gratitude.

As our last class for the year ended - they will go on to the next grade, but I will not teach them again, instead beginning my instructions all over again on the next, new crop of students who will fill these very chairs next term- that familiar feeling came upon me. One of sadness, of a heart beating slightly faster with the knowledge of imminent change, departure, things not staying the same, and sometimes not quite as good. Those familiar feelings began their journey from my mind to my heart, there in the center of my chest, beating faster, as the last few minutes of class began, the hand of the clock celebrating its bitter sweet final navigations of that large familiar white dial above the door.

I stood about to close the class, and from the rear, as the year before had happened, students began to enter the room. FIlling the classroom, students from my other classes poured in, sincere smiles on all their young, eager faces, knowing they were about to give me something I'd never throw away, and cherish forever and ever.

A few bolder students taking the initiative, physically swept me from the podium and placed me, amid my feigned protestations, to the windows-side of the classroom and instructed me in their most severe middle-aged woman impression, 'DON'T LOOK, ROBAATO!". So, I obliged. I stared out the window, not cheating, not looking back at them once, and making a big fake fuss over how lovely the day was outside, how spring was coming, and how the flowers were beginning to bloom, 'oh, can you see them there?, and, oh, can anyone see that funny purple cat down there in the street, or that little boy who was eating ice cream on such a brisk day?

Yes, of course, I played it up with all sorts of exaggeration, and was rewarded with rolls of hysterical disembodied laughter from the busy girls who were feverishly trying to assemble something nefarious, something still hidden from my view. I heard but did not see. Desks and chairs moving about, all sorts of orders being barked out, in carefully cryptic slang. I kept up my banter, never once turning round. My defense was clear. I'd joke about the moment, protecting myself and steeling myself and my eyes from any silly displays of affection or emotion. I'm the teacher, after all!

Finally, after a few minutes of this, they said it was 'ok' to turn around. I did so. And my breath was taken away, as I saw they had formed a human tunnel. Girls, fine young Ladies all, were lined up in two very long winding rows, facing each other, with their arms outstretched above them and each connected with hands linked to the girl across from them, creating a tunnel with their outstretched and interlinked arms.

They beckoned me with heated excitement, as if it would all very soon melt away. And perhaps it would. So, i did, I hurried. And, being told to enter the tunnel, I did so with haste. And as I did, they began to collapse the tunnel as i passed each pair of interlocked arms, cascading behind me, and ushering me with playful force along my final path in their class. The tunnel led to the doorway, whereby i exited and stood up, having had to make the whole journey practically bent over completely to fit in my petite charges' construction. This, as I stood up, only to see a girl standing at the end facing me. A wonderful girl, quiet, sweet, and with a face which I've never seen absent of a smile, and whose face resembles a young Ally McGraw from the movie "Love Story". Having that association already in my mind, and the inherent sadness associated with it and that story, I almost lost it right there and then. She, smiling her smile, though this time with more than a hint of the same sadness I felt inside me, presented me with the poster card you see here and at the same time she did so, all the students in attendance, there must have been ninety or a hundred, yelled 'Robaato Sensei, ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA!" And followed that with clapping and cheers. I took the wonderful card and bowed as low as I could, to show my immense humility and thanks and to hide the thumping of my heart, which felt surely about to burst the buttons of my vest, and to hide the tears which thankfully came despite my naive defense.

Thank you, Girls, I mean, Young Ladies. Bless You All.

Memories of last end of year

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