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Show And Tell was a complete flop. Not one student brought anything. A student even stayed home from school, a first. The principal smiled every time she passed Gita in the hall way. It did not help that Gita hardly saw Sarama, as she left school during her recess to be with Darrell and was busy all day. Gita was greatly depressed, but she did not pass it onto her students. She was unswervingly cheerful all day. Regrettably, there was a staff meeting after school.

In the staff room, Gita sat between Sarama and Nicole Perry. Nicole was a bubbly, fair-skinned young woman, twenty-six years of age. She was always nice, always bouncy and animated. At first, it had bothered Gita, but the forever sanguine girl had somehow wormed herself into Gita’s heart in four long, long days.

“Don’t worry, Camarolli,” Perry said to her, flashing a sudden smile. She never failed to startle Gita. “I’m on your side, remember that. And if the going gets rough – well, you know what they say.”

“I’m fine,” Gita responded. She suspected that Perry had forgotten the rest of the saying.

The principal walked in then. She stood at the head of the table. “This meeting shall come to order. Perry, you’ll take the minutes.” Perry nodded, her dark blue eyes a pretty contrast to the long, wavy black hair which came undone from a bright pink band when she’d jerked her head so abruptly. She flipped open a yellow pad and pulled a pencil from behind her right ear, writing across the top of the page, ” Minutes of the teaching staff meeting held on 7th August 2009 at the Capital City Elementary School”.

And then everything went downhill.

Everyone was present, so the roll call was done, and details of the last meeting were checked over. Gita had done the minutes for that meeting. Principal Hodge flipped through the pages, clucking every two seconds at something she disapproved of, marking often with a bright red pen. She demanded that it be done over by Monday.

Then Mrs. Marilyn Pitman, a forty year old brunette, announced that Gita was playing games with her children in class instead of teaching them like she was supposed to be doing. Gita, affronted, exclaimed that she was progressing according to the syllabus, and was even ahead. She was shot down for speaking out of turn.

Perry cast Gita a pitying glance as her hand flew across the pad.

Her Show And Tell was brought up and teachers took turn explaining how children on such a level could not possibly understand that concept, and that was why it had failed so horribly. McMillan spoke up about the inability of some teachers to be satisfied with working at others’ pace, such as the adjacent teacher Mr. John Carlton, who spoke up as well. Her youth was brought up repeatedly. Gita exploded.

“I am a good teacher, an excellent teacher. This is the first week of school,” Gita absolutely snarled. “The first week. I have put up with the actions of this staff, but I won’t any longer. My minutes was done just as I was taught and, Mrs. Hodge, your assistant, Mr. Radcliff, checked it over and said it was done better than he had seen in a long time, and he’s been at this school longer than you have.

“Secondly, students work better in a positive environment. I play educational games which stimulate thinking and creativity. We have designed board games, painted beautiful calling cards for the first few letters of the alphabet. I have given rewards for correct recognition of objects – square, circle, triangle. My students are willing to work because they enjoy doing so in my class – because the “games” make it more fun.

“Thirdly, children will always be children, and today they simply forgot about Show And Tell. They all loved the idea, ask any one of them. Any one of them would tell you. Ideas were discussed in class. Some of them already knew what they were bringing by Wednesday. The Show And Tell was not a failure; it was simply forgotten. This was the first week of school, and an adjustment period should have been allowed for the students to get into a frame of mind suitable for school projects. That was my mistake. But I will not forget the Show And Tell. It is clearly postponed until next week Friday.

“I may be not yet twenty, but I have always wanted to be a teacher; I have tutored my peers for years. I will demand respect from all of you. I may be young, and of course I don’t know everything – but you have been unfair in your judgement of me. I know what I am doing. So back off, and go to the school board before you start throwing my name around like an old, useless shoe. God bless all of you. I am leaving now – Perry, I hope you got all of that.”

Gita’s chest heaved and she blinked back tears. Everyone was stunned. Gita’s confidence slipped as she recalled that not everyone present deserved her little speech (including the second youngest teacher after her, twenty one-year old pretty-boy teacher Mr. Harrison, sweet Mrs. Charles, Mrs. Doekhie and half a dozen other teachers). But the room rang with a severe kind of silence. Every few seconds, certain people had looked like they were going to interrupt her, but something in Gita’s tone, or something she said soon after, shut them up. Now, she calmly picked up her bag and walked out of the door. Not wanting to wait for anyone, she walked home.

She wondered if she would still have a job come Monday.

“Don’t worry with those other teachers, honey,” Mrs. Catherine Camarolli said, warmth permeating her tone. She placed a bowl of steaming soup, a little basket of freshly baked bread and a plate of pumpkin rice and chicken in front of her daughter.

Gita leaned her elbows on the smooth wooden surface of the dining room table, unconsciously ignoring the meal. “I can’t stop worrying about it. I can’t stop thinking about how it must have looked. Me, the newest and youngest teacher at the school, lecturing the others as though it was their first week and not mine.”

“Don’t belittle what you did today, Gita,” Catherine reprimanded. “Put it out of your mind. Now, have some food before it gets cold.”

“I don’t think I’m hungry anymore,” Gita said hesitantly, especially after seeing the crestfallen expression on her mother’s face. “I’m sure its delicious,” she added hastily, “but I just can’t eat right now, Ma.”

Gita gave her mother a long hug, wrapped up the dishes in foil, and carried them all out into the early evening cool. She walked up the road towards her own place, at a slower pace than usual to keep the precarious stack of food in her arms from toppling over. She had been planning to pass by her father but swiftly changed her mind. He would just take her side, just like her mother, and cuss off those teachers at Capital City Elementary School without even knowing who they were.

She wanted genuine comfort. She didn’t think she could take it if she was offered that same automatic support. She didn’t really think that she was at fault for her reaction today – she believed some of the teachers were long overdue – but she did think she could have handled it better.

She went straight home, stuffed the food in the refrigerator, and went to her bookshelf. She perused for a few moments, then picked up a novel – “Wish Upon A Star”.

In novels, something always surprised Gita: the lack of communication. So many things could have been avoided if people just spoke to each other about it. Entire novels would have been reduced to a few pages if the characters had only seen the logic of expressing their feelings. It frustrated Gita sometimes. She felt like reaching into the book and smacking one of those characters on the side of his head, screaming, “Talk to her, talk to her!”

It could have been just saying those three words, the sweetest words. It could have been informing a fellow character of impeding doom or imperative, vital information. There were so many secrets, too many secrets. It burned Gita’s stomach when she saw the ramifications of one character’s negation to speak. Yet it was exactly what she desired to happen in the story world. She didn’t think she would live if people communicated with each other clearly and purposefully. That didn’t even happen in real life…

She did make a promise with herself, though. She dropped to her knees right there and clasped her hands on her couch. She prayed that the Lord would give her the strength to communicate with the people in her life that she held dear. She prayed that He would keep her from creating a disaster of her life. She asked him to be with her in every waking moment, to never let her forget that she owed those in her life a thorough explanation.

When she finished, she felt the guilty knot in her stomach loosen. The teachers in her school deserved to know how she felt about what was going on. They shouldn’t have to live with a phony image of her and her beliefs. She might have done it melodramatically, but it was just as well. They ought to know how strongly she felt about how they treated her like less than they were.

Gita felt the cool calm spread out from her middle, and she realised that God had answered her prayer, even though she hadn’t thought to ask the right questions. She thanked Him. She loved Him.

She fell asleep on her couch, at an odd angle, but it was long enough that she wasn’t going to be stiff or in pain on Saturday. It’s almost divine how she had thought ahead to purchasing the soft peach seating when she had first moved to her flat…

By: Maxine B.R. Andrew, The Religion of Romance

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