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Papermate Mechanical Pencil in Black

LET'S just say that I wasn't very fond of her. Mrs N was a plump woman with an apple-shaped body, always dressed in matching tailored maxi skirts and blouses. Her well oiled black hair was combed back and tied in a low pony tail which sat snuggly at the back of her rather short neck. She had a face round as the moon and her forehead was always dotted with a huge, red third eye (pottu). She spoke with an old-school authority and at that time, most teachers did so and that didn't bother us one bit. 

Mrs N taught my class Bahasa Melayu (the Malay language). It's a compulsory subject for a few reasons. First, it's the national language and second, all subjects are taught in the Malay language under the Malaysian education system. Science, Math, Geography are all taught in Malay and the text books also come in Malay (although I never saw a logic to it). So it's important for a student to grasp the language very well. Unfortunately, Malay wasn't my first language, making my standard one and two years a bit of a challenge. 

However, I read well. Reading anything in Malay wasn't a problem. My reading was fluent. My problem was in understanding what I'd just read. Therefore answering comprehension questions was an issue.  

One day Mrs N made the class read out a passage from the textbook. We did and after that, she asked us to answer the questions that came with it. 

"Answer the questions and those who have problems can come and see me," she said as she sat down at her desk by the window at the front corner of the classroom. 

Coming from the class teacher, it was a simple, reassuring statement for me. I'd read everything but understood nothing to answer the questions below the text. So I went to Mrs N with the textbook and a new favourite stationery which was the Papermate Mechanical Pencil in Black. I'd just gotten it a few days earlier and while most kids treasured their Barbies then, I loved my stationery. They were my toys. 

"Excuse me, Mrs N. I have problem answering the questions," I said to her. 

Mrs N instructed me to read the text to her and I did effortlessly. 

"Now read the first question," she asked and I did. 

"Now what's the answer for that?" she demanded in her deep authoritative tone. 

I told Mrs N that I didn't know because I couldn't understand what I had just read but she kept pressing me for it. It's like she couldn't believe what I was saying. Maybe she'd thought that I was playing a prank on her because I just read that well. But I wasn't playing a stupid prank on her and by then she had started hurting me by pinching the side of my tummy. 

The biggest blow came when she grabbed my Papermate Mechanical Pencil in Black and actually threw it out of the window from the first floor classroom. I was tearing up by then and the school bell rang just on time to save me from further damage. So much went on in my head. I hated Mrs N. Heck, I despised her. It was my first encounter with hatred and disappointment. I went down to pick up my Papermate Mechanical Pencil in Black and with a head still heavy from all that shock and hands shaking, I walked to the parking lot to my source of comfort which was my dad. I wiped away the tears and never told dad the incident. What happens in school, stays in school I believed. 

Months after the incident, I was in standard three and by then I was reading all sorts of books and notices in Malay. School books, story books, public notices...and I understood the content. My Malay has never looked back ever since. Mrs N moved on to become my standard three class teacher and many, many years later, I'm still not fond of her. 
I just don't hate her anymore. 

PS. I can't find photos on this model of  Papermate Mechanical Pencil in Black online. I'd given away the pencil to someone in the later years. 

This post is inspired by Mama Kat's prompt - Your Second Grade Teacher. 
Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. Nasty woman. How come you stayed in touch with her many years later? She sounds like the perfect candidate for Groucho Marx's line - "If I never see you again, it'll be too soon!"

    1. oh no. did the post give you that impression? i never stayed in touch with her. just saying that im not still liking after the years.

  2. Quite the nasty wench of a teacher indeed. I would never be fond of her either.

    1. it's not a way to handle a kid who needs help with her work at school. not by anyone. not by a teacher.

  3. What a mean thing to do to a child!! I'm glad you were able to retrieve it. How did the rest of the school year go after that?

    1. welcome here!
      nothing significant happened but by the end of the term, i just somehow magically improved. of course, i had teaching help apart from the school.
      but i just hated Mrs N. she didnt matter to me.

  4. Reading about Mrs N has angered me so much Jaya, I wish that you had told your father and that he had really laid into her for treating you like a piece of scum when you didn't deserve it in the slightest, sorry to hear that you had to deal with such a horrible, vile woman as a teacher, she sounds despicable.

    1. oh well Matthew. i always kept school things at school.
      years later, i came to know that Mrs N had some issues at home. not sure exactly when but i think it was much later.
      still no reason to treat any kid that way.

  5. Oh my gosh I can relate to loving stationery more than Barbies! And what malice and lack of empathy she seemed to have. Glad you moved on!

  6. wow! what a mean teacher. Makes you wonder how some of them get away with treating children like that. I hope she is no longer in the education system. Did that experience effect the rest of your school years? My second grade teacher was very good and inspired a love of learning that followed me for the rest of school and beyond. Sorry about your experience.

  7. Wow, that was such a mean reaction from your teacher! Lots of kids can read words but not really comprehend what they've read. My daughter was the same way during her second grade year.

  8. I remember teacher's like that, I had a Maths teacher who used to do this, (pinch the tummy, mind you she had long claws so the pain was unbearable). I wasn't really proficient in Maths so I was the slow learner in class. She pinched me everytime I got something wrong, I guess it was to ensure I gt it into my thick skull but the problem was I kept making mistakes fearing her vicious claws. She was a beautiful lady with a really slim body but i believe beneath that wonderful exterior lies a cold woman....

  9. I wrote a long comment and it dissappeared!! ughhh.. suffice to say I had the same experience with a maths teacher who had killer nails... It was not a pleasant experience...

  10. I'm convinced my second grade teacher was borderline Schizophrenic. But then again, I hated every minute that I had to go to school from the first to the last day - so my memories are always tainted :)

  11. Stories like this tear me up. Because I don't like to think that a person of my profession would tear down a child like that AND because I worry that I inadvertently have.

  12. What. a. jerk. I can't believe she did that! I want to give second grade you a hug.

  13. my son was reading at a 6th grade level before he started kindergarden...he could read these huge words and chapter books! beautifully....but had no idea what anything meant and had no comprehension...going back to the simple easy three letter word books he could understand was a challenge for his teacher.

  14. I would be really angry if a teacher treated my daughter like that. It's such a long year to everyday go to school dreading the teacher. I bet it taught you a lot about how you want to treat people.

  15. I hate Mrs N. end of. These kind of people should never teach.

  16. She pinched the side of your tummy? Give me her address. I'l pinch her where she's never been pinched.


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