Best Wishes

These days, I miss my students. Their antics, their humour, their sarcasm. Their agitated bouncing on seats whenever they are released late for recess or from school. Their misguided - and utterly foolish(?) - impatience to grow up. Their distemper against authoritative figures, power and hierarchy.

I remember secrets that they would tell me on the condition that I would not tell anyone. On one occasion, I promised to do so... and what a spectacular fallout. The child turned out not to have told the truth and the resultant brouhaha was memorable

The truth, crystalline, susceptible to fractures. The truth, refracting into multiple truths. The truth was it was tough. Tough to hold on to a student's bag and ask him what's wrong while he tries to squirm free and begins to cry. Tough to speak to the girl who post videos of red marks on her forearm, only to realise that they are just realistic make-up.

The truth was it was hard to leave. These chewren are young men and women now, people of promise, people of potential. I remember how I used to call my first batch chewren because they are always masticating food. I hope they grow into assured adults who know how to eat in a refined manner. I hope they are happy with their growth. I hope they are well. 

I remember how students would spend their time co-creating romances between their teachers. Maybe their Science-CCE-form-English teacher would pair up nicely with their Chinese teacher, if not the adjacent class's English teacher.

They are, of course, busy with their own romances too. For example, a battle to the death in the Eco-garden between two barely presentable mammals and the winner gets the hand of the fair damsel. 

I remember Sol, her frailty, her charisma, her stage presence. That magical performance - what else could it be but magic? - that feeling of being shaken, destabilised. I remember telling Ms Chan that I was touched to the point of tears. She looked at me and said, 'Aiyoh, I already started crying.' 

I remember J, how he confided in me about his feelings for this particular girl after everyone told me that he liked her. The class - any class - is a rumour mill where the slightest side-way look could be interpreted as a look of love, despair or displeasure.

Of course, I did not do up the seating plan so that two nice kids would sit side-by-side due to their good nature and compatible looks. Of course, I did not need any entertainment throughout the academic year.

As I write this, I think of all the brilliance that I have missed, all the brilliance that the nature of this job demands that I miss. Just a short interaction - a year, or two, four if I'm lucky - before they go on their ways and I'm relinquished to a dusty corner of their memory, pulled out for a good laugh during reunions every other year. It's not the present that we miss. It's not the present that we treasure.

Dear child, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, do good, do well. All the best.

And here's a picture of the oyster mushroom I fried for lunch last week.


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