For the whole month of February, I will be posting a letter of gratitude to the people who have contributed immensely to the woman I am today. Some letters I’m thinking of sending to those I’ve written about and some I hope are never read. This will be the first time I post daily. So I am really keen on seeing how it will turn out, both for me and for those who follow this blog. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. The theme for all the letters is that ‘We Are Stories’ and I will be telling mine in #29LettersOfGratitude for a whole month. If you would like to join me (PLEASE DO!!!) remember to link me in your posts.
The first day I met him he was sitting on the edge of a big table, in the front of our classroom. He was white, which meant he was the most foreign person I’d ever met. He began his interaction with an introduction, explaining why he was with us that morning. Mr. J.K. spoke with an accent, so I made a mental note to ask him why he pronounced words the way he did.
Not long into his brief summary on his overseas travels; Olwethu, one of the boys from my class; shouted without even excusing himself and intrusively inquired ‘are you gay sir?’ I knew what had just been asked was wrong but I wasn’t sure why I felt that way. Back then, I only understood being gay ‘as loving someone you shouldn’t’.
Our attention instantly turned from the ill-mannered adolescent punk to the front where Mr. J.K. was now standing awkwardly, his face crimson red from what I suspected to be embarrassment. We didn’t expect a response, in fact we really hoped he’d actually do us all a favor and reprimand the rude student. But instead our educator politely answered ‘No, I am not gay.’
I don’t think any of us believed him…
Mr. J. K. is the reason I fell in love with literature. He always encouraged me even when I repeatedly kept letting him down. My scrapbooks were always made up of all the magazines he brought me from home. And once when Viwe G and I had to go to an English Festival in Grahamstown; he helped us fund-raise, and paid for almost everything else we couldn’t afford on that trip.
Thank you Mr. J.K. for believing in me when I gave you no reason to. Thank you for being a teacher that always gave me so much confidence in my own abilities. I’ve kept every test paper declaring that my answers were always better than the memos you got from the Department of Education.
Thank you for being the kindest human I have ever known. I can’t imagine what high school would have been like without you, you’ll always be my most favorite highlight of those grim years. So what if they deemed me worth of the title ‘teacher’s pet?’ I hope you know, I always took it as a compliment, all the while quietly learning from the best. Thank you for extending your duties beyond the classroom for me ❤
Most of our writing love affairs began with out language teachers? Was this the case for you too? How has the relationship made you a better writer?
Cover Photo By: Lutendo Malatji