What is in a name?
The young boy was very happy today. He woke up earlier than usual and proceeded to quickly finish his chores. He could not afford to be late. He brushed his teeth and washed his hair with the water leftover in the earthen pitcher. Next, he went to fetch water, which took a good one and a half hours. It had always been tiring, but today he barely felt it. He cleaned the buffalo shed and then milked their only buffalo. The old girl had provided his family for as long as he remembered. After that he went to cut grass for the buffalo and her calf, thinking of the day before him.
By the time he returned, his mother had started cooking and his father had already gone to his shop. He was early. He thought of helping his mother but she chased him out. But he was restless. Eager and impatient. He went to fetch his only pair of clean school uniform and ironed it with his father’s coal iron for the fifth time; he then polished his shoes again. For the thousandth time, he wished for the clock to strike nine.
At 10 past nine, the boy was hurrying on his way to school. His hair was combed and his uniform neat and tidy. His shoes were polished and the laces neatly tucked. He smelled fresh and felt cleaner than ever before. He took special care as he walked past the puddle made as a result of the village water tap being left open. Normally he would splash alone, but not today. Today was a special day and nothing could spoil today.
The reason the boy was so happy today was that his math teacher had left school the day before. Though the teacher was considered the best teacher in the district, there was a reason why the boy did not like him. It was as though the teacher absolutely despised him. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how correct he was the teacher was always at his worst for him. He was always the first to be picked while solving difficult problems. If he would not solve one correctly, he noticed that he was beaten a little bit harder than anyone else. Sometimes he was beaten because he skipped a step, sometimes because his handwriting was not good enough. The same conditions did not apply to other students though. Over the course of years, the boy had learned that there was nothing he could do to make the teacher like him or even to make him beat him less. So when the teacher announced yesterday that he was leaving the school to migrate to America, despite the visible disappointment among other teachers and students, one young boy was very happy.
And that is why the young boy had put such an effort to make himself presentable today. He had no idea why the old teacher hated him, but he would do his best to make sure he gave no reason for the new teacher. He had revised his lesson twice and felt prepared to answer any question the teacher might ask. He had an impression to make and he would.
The boy instantly liked the new teacher from the moment he came in. he was much younger than the old one and had a charming way of talking. He would joke and laugh, unlike the old teacher who seldom did. He would walk among the students and give equal attention to everyone, even to the young boy. This was new and very motivating for the boy. He got more and more confident that the worst of his school was behind him.
Halfway through the class, the teacher wrote a problem on the blackboard. It was a multiplication problem, one the boy had practiced before. The new teacher asked the students to raise their hands if they knew how to solve it. Only one hand was raised.
The teacher asked the boy to solve the problem on the blackboard.
The teacher was impressed. He patted the boy’s head and smiled broadly. He told the class that the boy had done well. The boy felt tears rising in his eyes. He had never been patted or praised like that.
The teacher then wrote another problem on the board, a more difficult one, and asked if he could solve it.
It was harder. It took some time but he did. The teacher was ecstatic. He began to speak greatly of the boy who he said was a genius. He told the class that there were no other students he had taught who had answered the question in such little time.
The boy could not help grinning from ear to ear. He had never been happier.
“What’s your name boy?” asked the teacher.
The boy hesitated.
“Go on boy, one should always be proud of their name”
“His name is Kami, Sir. He is the son of the blacksmith” said one of his classmates.
“Ohh!” said the teacher.
He turned around and went back up to the board. The boy could see that the smile had been almost wiped completely from the teacher’s face.
He never talked to the boy again.
What’s a name huh?