Tim was usually a loving and supportive teacher and person. But after chasing out a new student with a foreign accent, he came to learn that all it takes is one bad day to destroy a lifetime of effort and care.
Tim stormed down the street, rushing to the pharmacy in a mood as he tried to make the most of the little time he had. His next class was in fifteen minutes, and the school was ten minutes away. Every second counted.
He was never late for work, but today was just one of those days. Everything that could have gone wrong did! His alarm didn’t go off, he was forced to shower in ice-freezing water because of a burst geyser, and, to make matters worse, he had a migraine that felt like a tumor.
“Excuse me!… Watch it!… Are you blind!?” Tim jeered rudely as he walked through the bustling rush hour streets. This side of town was never usually this busy, but once again, it was just one of those days.
Tim finally made his way to the small, dingy pharmacy, sighing as he finally made his way through the small establishment’s doors. As he entered, his blood drained from his face as he saw the long queue ahead.
As Tim considered leaving and heading to work, his migraine reminded him he wouldn’t make it the rest of the day, and he grimaced in pain.
A few minutes passed, and Tim and the line still weren’t moving. As he looked ahead, he noticed the same Indian man that was at the front of the line when he arrived was still there. Tim looked at his watch in frustration, each second stretching longer than the last.
“Love, children. Love! That’s our true nature. If we all live like animals, then who’s left to nurture our humanity?”
“Err… Sorry. I, sorry… err… About it. Please… Not this. I want… Err… that one,” the Indian man at the front of the queue said, desperately trying to put his words together as the cashier tried his best to decipher his words. English was obviously not his first language, and the cashier tried his best to accommodate this reality.
Tim, on the other hand, had had enough. “Aye! C’mon now! We’ve been waiting forever!” Tim barked, walking up to the till in an uproar.
“Calm down, sir. Let me help this gentleman, then…” the cashier tried to explain.
“Help him? And how long will that take? He clearly can’t understand a word you’re saying!” Tim snapped.
“Please calm down,” the cashier gently insisted.
“No!” Tim continued, turning to the Indian man, yelling, “And you! Get out of here! You’re detaining the rest of us because of your ignorance. You’re a disgrace.” The man looked on with offense. Whether English was his first language or not, he had clearly understood everything.
Having heard enough, a woman stepped out from the line, scolding Tim, saying, “That’s enough! If anybody’s a disgrace, it’s you!”
Time rolled his eyes, turning to the cashier, “Just get me some painkillers! My head is killing me… I don’t have time for this nonsense!” The Indian man reached for Tim’s arm in objection.
“But…” the man started, Tim violently swinging his arm away from him. “Hey! Don’t touch me! You have no rights or opportunities here!” Tim said before turning back to the cashier, wincing in pain as he continued to bark orders, “Painkillers! Now!”
Tim wasn’t normally this insensitive. In fact, he often did his best to teach his students the importance of kindness, consideration, and humility. He would often tell them:
“Love, children. Love! That’s our true nature. If we all live like animals, then who’s left to nurture our humanity?”
The children would listen keenly, though they never quite understood what he meant. But that was his thing. He was poetic, constantly fuming, even lighting the unlit spark of profound thought in all his students. However, as Tim would soon learn, sometimes all it takes is one bad day and a couple of bad decisions to lose sight of what truly matters.
Tim stormed into his classroom a while later, still in the same foul mood. His shenanigans hadn’t done him any good; he was still late. As he entered the classroom, his students, with much enthusiasm, began to cheer their daily greeting in unison:
“GOOD MORNING MR…” they started. Their heartfelt cheer died out as Tim raised his hand, signaling them to stop.
“That’s enough! Enough time has been wasted already. Open your books, and let’s continue reading from where we left off yesterday,” Tim said. One of the students instantly raised his hand.
“Yes, Liam,” Tim said, failing to hide his annoyance.
“Sir, there’s a new girl. Principal Vance introduced her, but you weren’t around,” Liam said, pointing to a young girl in the corner who kept her head down shyly.
“Okay…” Tim said, turning to the new girl as he continued, “You! New girl. What’s your name?”
“Meera,” the girl said in an anxious whisper.
Meera had a unique look and delicate beauty about her. She was fair-skinned with facial features and hair texture that seemingly appeared Indian. But her blue eyes made one reconsider.
“What? Speak up,” Tim said coldly, his annoyance even more evident.
“Alright. I see you have our current study before you. You’ll start us off for the day. Let’s pick it up from page 23. Stand up and read,” Tim said, looking down at the page.
Meera slowly stood up. The book viciously shook in her hand as she nervously held it, flipping through the pages. She looked around nervously; all eyes were on her.
“Err… The b—b—bad. The bad m—men, said to Pru—Pru—Pru…” Meera read, struggling to conjure her words.
“Prudence!” Tim said, frustrated.
“Pru—Prudence. She was scared b—but tried to… Err… Tried to mek… To make…” Meera read, trying her best to focus. Her Indian accent pounced out heavily amidst her nervous reading.
“To mek harr, give up…” Meera continued. But that was the last straw for Tim. He suddenly slammed the book on the table in frustration, remembering the man from earlier.
“Oh, c’mon! You read English literature properly! These are masterpieces, and you pronounce them like there trash! If I had a choice, I’d rather go deaf than listen to this!” Tim raged.
“I’m so sorry, sir. It’s j—j—just thet me and my family only just moved here. I still… Err… Haven’t learn—learned the language. I still… Err—” Meera tried to explain in broken English, but Tim wouldn’t give her a chance.
“Ah! Ah! Ah!” Tim yelled, closing his ears. “I can’t listen to this! Not today! Get out of the classroom! I can’t have you interfering with my work,” Tim howled.
Meera looked around, embarrassed. Tim’s words cut her deep. This wasn’t what she was expecting on her first day. Nonetheless, she did as he asked, exiting the room dejectedly.
Tim immediately slammed the door behind her with a cheeky snigger, pleased with himself. However, his ego would soon be crushed by what awaited him after school.
Tim was called into the principal’s office after school. He initially thought it had something to do with his lateness, but he was never ready for what awaited him as he stepped into the principal’s office.
Before him sat Meera, her mother, and her father, the man from the pharmacy. Meera’s mother was a beautiful blonde of European appearance. Looking at the combination of her parents, Meera’s unique features finally made sense.
Meera’s father, Ahaan, stood up in vexation, scolding Tim. “You! I remember you!” he said, his wife, Ella, gently pulling him back to his seat.
“Please take a seat, Tim,” the principal said as Tim followed through in awe, taking a seat. “Meera’s parents are here today because of an altercation between you and her daughter,” the principal said.
“Altercation?! He made my child feel like an outcast. Inferior, even! No! We will not stand for this! This is a free country, and a child should not be subjected to such behavior, especially from a teacher!” Meera’s mother said before turning to Tim, “You should be ashamed of yourself!”
The whole time this back-and-forth happened between Meera’s parents and Tim, she looked down in dismay. She could not believe this was how her first day was turning out.
“I did nothing wrong!” Tim retorted.
“N—N—Nothing wrong?!” Ahaan yelled, infuriated.
“Calm down, honey,” Ella said. She then turned to Tim with conviction, saying, “You think this is a joke! We’ll sue you!”
“Haa! I dare you! I did nothing wrong! It was her turn to read, and she simply couldn’t step to the plate. That’s it!” Tim said, getting up and storming out.
The next day he came to school, and something was different. He entered the class and immediately saw the contempt for him in the children’s eyes. Tim returned to his inspired self, but his students were far from it. He told them to read one by one, but nobody responded.
“Am I speaking to myself here? C’mon! Let’s start reading,” Tim said.
The children began to read one by one. Each of them read unusually, either simulating Meera or reading in another heavy-laden accent. After about the fourth child, Tim finally called them out.
“What is this? Does nobody want to learn today? Honestly?!” Tim said in shock. “Liam, since when do you have such an accent?” Tim asked. Liam said nothing.
“Is nobody going to tell me what’s going on?” Tim asked, frustrated.
Suddenly, the children began to speak in unison, saying, “Love, children. Love! That’s our true nature. If we all live like animals, then who’s left to nurture our humanity?”
“What? What are you going on about?” Tim asked, confused.
“That’s what you always say to us, teacher. But yesterday, with Meera, you didn’t practice it,” Liam said. All the other children murmured in agreement.
“Is that what this is all about?” Tim asked sincerely, feeling guilty as his shame dawned on him. All the children nodded in agreement.
Tim was completely taken aback. While he was impressed that his students had digested his words so deeply, he was also sad to know they had witnessed him at his lowest. He looked over at Meera, who nervously kept her head low, clearly still saddened by the whole saga.
Tim decided to let them read on their own for the rest of the lesson. After class, he asked Meera to stay over for a short conversation. The little girl was extremely nervous as she approached her teacher once the other children had left.
“Meera, I’m sorry for the way I treated you. Everything I said to you was completely wrong. I wish we could have started your first day on a better note,” Tim said.
“I—I—It is okay, teacher. I forgive you,” Meera said without hesitation.
“Tim. I’m afraid it looks like we may have no choice but to let you go.”
“Thank, Meera. I hope you’ll learn to enjoy this class and never feel ashamed to be yourself,” Tim said.
“I really like Literature… I read it all the time,” Meera said with a spark igniting in her blue eyes. Tim was taken aback. Her English had seemed to improve in just a day.
“I can tell. Your English is much better, just after a day,” Tim said, completely shocked.
“I do practicing every day,” Meera told Tim.
“I can see. It’s impressive. Let me tell you what. Just to make things right between us, how about I start tutoring you every day after school?” Tim said with a warm smile.
Meera’s face lit up with excitement. “Yes! Please!” she exclaimed joyously.
They started meeting after school and discussing books. Tim gave the girl books to take home and was impressed by her diligence and thirst for knowledge.
After several months, Tim was called to the principal’s office, where the principal and school director were waiting on him.
“Tim. I’m afraid it looks like we may have no choice but to let you go,” the principal explained as Tim sat in what had initially seemed like a meeting but was clearly into a hearing.
“What? I don’t understand,” Tim said, confused.
“Meera’s parents have brought a case against you for the altercation with Meera, and it will be considered,” the director said.
“I won’t lie to you, Tim. Things look bad for you. I’m sorry, but the school can’t risk hurting its reputation due to this. I’m afraid we’ll have to let you go,” the principal concluded. Tim tried to respond, but he had nothing to say. His bad day and mistakes had finally caught up to him.
Tim was collecting his things in his classroom later that day when Meera suddenly ran to him with a book she’d finished reading.
“Oh, it’s amazing, sir! Thank you for picking it for me!” Meera said in great excitement. By this point, her English was pretty phenomenal. She looked over and finally noticed Tim was packing his things.
“Sir… Are you leaving?” Meera asked dejectedly.
“Yes, my dear. I’m afraid I am. The way I treated you was wrong. It’s time I take responsibility for that now.
“Is it because of my parents?” Meera asked.
“No, Meera. They may have reported the case. But I am fully to blame for my own actions. I’m just happy I’ve had an opportunity to see you come this far. You’re amazing, Meera. And you’ll be just fine. I’ve never seen someone master a language in such a short span of time. You really are unique,” Tim concluded.
The next day, Tim sat at home, upset and broken. Suddenly, someone rang his doorbell. He opened it and saw Meera and her parents.
“Meera? What are you doing here?” Tim said, confused.
“Hi, teacher,” Meera said excitedly.
“Hi, sir… We… We did not started—start—star…” Meera’s dad said, struggling to put a sentence together before his wife chimed in.
“I believe what my husband is trying to say is we didn’t start on a good note,” Ella said as her husband nodded in agreement.
“And the words you spoke to my daughter didn’t justify your actions,” Ella continued.
“But this did!” Meera said, handing Tim a letter.
What’s this?” Tim asked as he opened up the letter. It was an invitation for Meera to the regional Olympiad.
“You made the Olympiad? You made the Olympiad!” Tim yelled, grabbing Meera in a tight hug.
“And… I—I— It’s… Errr… All thanks to you, Tim,” Meera’s father said, reaching out for a handshake. Tim firmly shook his hand with a warm smile.
“I’m sorry about everything, sir,” Tim said.
“It’s okay. No more case. You’re free!” Meera’s father added.
Meera’s parents dropped the case against Tim, and he eventually returned to work and continued to work with Meera after class. Meera took part in the Olympiad with Tim as her supervising teacher, and Meera won first place.
What can we learn from this story?
Be careful how you treat people. Tim almost sabotaged his whole career because of a single moment of insincerity and bigotry.
Don’t let your circumstances get the better of you. While Tim was good at heart, he let his circumstances get the better of him, and it almost cost him his career.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.