I sat there at a corner of the teacher’s podium, slightly irritated at the charade going on before me. I and the other teachers were parading with our widest smiles, kissing up to the proudly delusional parents and their snotty Wards at today’s School Open day. I had already catered to about a dozen of that tiring lot and was feeling bored and jumpy; I needed a smoke.
Sneaking out the back of the tented podium, I went to a deserted spot near the parking lot and lighted up. My presence should not be missed too much: I am a mediocre teacher at best, so the students would not especially want me to meet their parents and the parents would not want to meet me- their kids always passed my course no matter how really stupid they were.
I leaned on a structural-pillar and taking a deep puff, I let the rich smoke fill my lungs, before exhaling. Relief flooded every of my pore and yet another soothing puff followed; the quiet of the lot was also calming me rapidly. As I stood there, briefly enjoying myself, I began to hear distant talking, fast and annoyed- also young. Guessing it was a student, I dodged behind an old, rotting car, waiting for them to pass. It would not be considered good form to be seen smoking by a student on the school premises.
The voice was answered by a cooler, unaffected, older voice and as both voices slowly came closer, I began to make out what they were saying:
“…but Mum, that’s the whole point! Daddy should have come here instead of you.” The exasperated voice was that of a student- I guessed a female one from the tenor
“You know your Father is busy…he can’t be here all the time.” This was the older voice, apparently her mum’s.
“He’s always been here before, and it was okay that way. He knows how this whole thing works, and you don’t!” The childish tantrum in her voice was clear, even to me from where I was listening.
“Baby girl, get with the program; I’m here, so let’s go out there and do this thing.” Her mother said, trying to get her to behave.
“No, Mum! We are not doing this. It’s better if we just go home, then.”
“Wasn’t this the program you were so excited about yesterday?”
“Yeaaah…” Came the patronizing reply. “But that was when I thought Dad was the one coming.”
“So Shade, do you consider me so daft as to be unable to get what the program is about within a short while?” The mother’s voice had acquired an icy quality that showed how upset she was getting.
“I didn’t say so. I’m only saying Dad understands it already so he ought to have come instead.”
“Hmm” The older voice sighed, stayed silent for a while and then in a voice barely above a whisper said: “I think I now understand you. It’s because I’m blind, right?”
“Mum, you must realize it’s going to be very inconvenient to get you around quickly enough so I can enjoy the event.”
“Ha! You are ashamed of me. You prefer your Dad who has no time for you even though he really is not busy, to me who left her Job to be here with you? And you are old enough to know I am the one has been taking care of this family as your Dad has no real job: I pay your school fees, I take care of your every need from the work I do with my blind self. Yet, you have the guts to tell me not to come and know what my money is getting?”
“It’s not so, Ma. It’s just that you guys have what you are better at: It’s your thing to make the money and its Dad’s to do this stuff. That’s all I’m saying.” The girl was sounding frustrated now, clearly impatient with her mother.
“You do know that even the man you call Dad is not your father? You know you are the child I had after I was raped at night on my way from work, before I met the man you are so proud to have around you instead of me?” There was an awkward pause before she continued. “You are so young and stupid and the tragic thing is you don’t even know how hurtful your stupidity is to others. No problem, I’ll leave you be – just lead me out.” She said gently.
“Okay, Ma. Let’s go through the back gate.”
“Ha, the back gate uh?” The mother chortled bitterly “I forget you are so deathly ashamed of being seen with your blind mother…”
“Mum, your saying that is just you trying to blackmail me emotionally.”
“Good to know that you get that people have emotions. At least, I now know my money is not being entirely wasted; I just hope you’d realize that it’s not only you whose emotions can be hurt. Let’s just go, whatever way you prefer.”
I heard their steps and the sharp sounds of the Mum’s sight-stick go past the area I stood and fade away.
Stubbing out my cigarette, I began to walk back to my stand where I would smile and lie to the parents about how awesomely brilliant their “sociopaths-in-the-making” kids were doing at this put-on in which we all were treading water.