When my math teacher walked into my path

Opinion Sunday 21/May/2023 17:30 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
When my math teacher walked into my path

I stopped half way to my car to watch and old man shuffling along with uncertain steps. He was very familiar and I walked away from my car to get a closer look. He noticed a movement behind him and stopped to look back. For a minute, our eyes locked as we looked at each other. There was no recognition on his face but I knew who he was. Memories flashed back of a tall, smartly dressed man with a spring in his walk.

I also remembered a booming voice giving instructions from the black board and I could almost feel the sharp pain of a chalk thrown on my face at a ferocious speed. He was my old maths teacher. I stretched a hand and he hesitated for a moment until I introduced myself. He peered at me, frowned and then his wrinkled old face broke into a smile. “Of course, it is you,” he gave me a wide toothy grin,” you have not changed a bit, except for that funny little moustache!”

We spent the next five minutes talking about the old days and the following years. Before he climbed into his son’s car, he said,” I now see you are writing in newspapers. I sincerely hope all the maths equations I taught you have not gone to a waste.”

I assured him his maths classes were a great help but his advices on life in general was much more useful. His face lit up like the full moon above us. He said, “No equation in the world can solve personal problems but I am glad I have been of help in other ways.”

His son pressed the accelerator pedal and I watched the car joining the highway.

I returned to my car feeling somehow disturbed. Was not I glad to see the old teacher? I could not understand it and I kept thinking about it all the way home. Then it hit me as I sat in my garden alone looking at the stars. I was sad to see one of the most influential persons in my life decaying. I think we all prefer to hang on to the memory of the people who helped us shaped our future as we knew them before they grew old. Teachers have powerful effect long after the squeaky boards and the clamour of a classroom atmosphere have long faded.

We also remember the words of parents and other relatives said to us after many years have passed. Not all the memories are good, of course, but it is important to remember people who had been around when you were growing up. Death, I thought that evening, is never a finality in itself. I am not playing god but my old teacher would soon go to his maker leaving his students nothing but memories. As I looked up at the night sky, I saw a cloud passing on the face of the moon blocking its light. On that moment, I saw stars shining brighter than before. It was momentarily. When the cloud moved away from the moon, the moonlight ruled the sky again and the stars faded in the background.

That’s it! I thought, a good background is like the moonlight. It suffers a temporary setback and but never fades away. There are always “the little stars” around to lend support during the dark moment but a firm background stemming from a solid foundation stays alive. My teacher may go to his maker soon but his mathematical equations will live forever with me. Did the theory of the night cheer me up?  Not really but it gave a new revelation.