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"COME TO THE FRONT," the teacher barked.
One of the toughest kids in our class had been caught chatting while the teacher was regurgitating material from the textbook. The teacher was aware of his stubborn nature. Extreme punishment was forthcoming.
The teacher took a thick and long wooden stick in one hand and grabbed the miserable student with the other. He pushed down the head of the kid, finally placing the neck between his legs. He, then, proceeded to hit the back of the student with the heavy stick. He hit the kidneys around ten times before stopping and letting go.
The student raised his deep crimson face without uttering a word or a cry and then went back to his seat. The entire class was mum.
An indiscretion could earn a disproportionate response from any teacher. Let me rephrase: Any perceived indiscretion could earn a disproportionate response from a teacher.
Many teachers checked our homework during class time. Our homework was basically copying material from the course book to our notebook. During the checking, we lined in front of the teacher and presented our notebook. The teacher would then put a few ticks and sign at the last page. Rarely did he ever read what we had written down. What mattered was the right volume of words and figures.
Once during this checking process, a student didn't gently put down his notebook in front of the teacher. As a result, the teacher clutched the notebook and hurled it across the room.
"What do you think I am? Some kind of a dog! Go to hell," the sage said. The kid had no choice but to meekly walk away.
Everyone knew about the insane cruelty: The teachers, the students and the parents. Once in a blue moon, the principal would get a phone complaint. The offending teacher would be told about it and then nothing would change.
One time, the headmaster had received numerous complaints about a specific teacher. The hideous man in question finally revealed this news to us in class and then asked, "Do you really think I swear in front of you?" Of course, our lips remained sealed since his gutter rhetoric was the least of our concerns.
Such was life at my Pakistani school in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. While at home in the desert Mordor, I once watched a documentary on television that confused me. You see, it showcased the life of a teacher who had passed away. He was deeply missed by all especially his students. I simply could not understand how that could be.
Teachers were vicious creatures. For us students then, the "favorite" teacher was the one who was the least violent. Yet, there on the TV screen were people who actually praised the departed soul.
I was dumbfounded.
The documentary also presented a few photos of that peculiar personality. I soon forgot his name but the face of that man was forever etched in my mind.
Some years later while attending a private school in America, I would see him again.