10 November 2009

The teacher

Het hoofd van een Leeuw is harig. The head of a lion is hairy.

On the journey home tonight, I sat stoically in the aisle seat. I refused eye contact as she slung her violin overhead and squeezed by me with a sigh. I shrunk deeper into my book and pushed my headphones into my ears, willing out the grating chatter from three teenagers in my vicinity.

She drew out a stack of papers and began reading. As is often the case, my eyes wandered. Using my peripheral vision I tried to see what she was working on.

Ruimte = space

Gevaar = danger

She's learning English! Well, at first I thought she was studying. Though young, she looked too mature for that. Then, the red pen emerged: A teacher.

Without warning, her right hand struck out. It roamed rapidly across the paper, slashing and "x"ing some poor student's work to shreds. She shrugged with irritation as her Oilily shoulder bag shifted, its flowery pattern getting in the way of her grading.

I glanced harder to the left, moving my gaze upwards. A flowery pink scarf was wrapped around her neck. She wore no makeup, and her wavy blonde hair hung straight from a center part. She continued her task with deadly seriousness, oblivious to my scrutiny.

Should I reach out? Make a connection? "Hey I'm a teacher too!" She clearly understands English, or at least that niemand = nobody and "Ik vind niet dat het leuk voor mij" means something like "I don't think it's nice for me."

Or I could say something like: "You know, if you were grading papers in the United States, red pens were outlawed due to concern about student's self esteem." No, that could be misinterpreted.

I'd also have to confess my visual eavesdropping, something all Dutchies do but never, ever admit to.

I remained silent but watchful.

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