Me, myself & the kids: A missed smile and a tickle

Deena AlNaggar

Based on how I announced the column, I expect readers would have comic feedback of a teacher’s day-to-day activities. Trust me, I had plenty in mind. Due to an unfortunate incident, however, I feel the urge to change course in this particular issue. One, because I want to address the incident (I simply cannot overlook it). Two, the person to be addressed means a lot to me, actually, meant a lot to me. 

As a 9-year old child—a girl—she is energetic and ‘naughty’ at times… 

Her mischievous smile always brings cheer to me and everybody else. She is always capable of getting away with whatever trouble she gets into, all with a smile. We call her ‘Astrid’ from the movie How to Train Your Dragon because she has that intimidating look that can even make bad boys submissive. Always willing to help, she would insist on carrying the teacher’s things to class, such as (in my case) books, papers, duster, markers, charts, pencil cases (I have quite a few), and my pink water bottle. 

If she is mad at somebody, it would be easily expressed by a stubborn look, arms crossed over chest, and an adorable pout of the lips. It will take a while to appease her if these three body gestures are present: It would be a while before she cools down. 

‘Tickling’, her favourite game, is her way of expressing her presence (I was tickled more times than I care to count). 

She is fond of writing short notes to her teachers. ‘I love you, teacher’ notes fill my planner (I have a habit of sticking anything my students give me there, a fact that always makes them happy). 

I entered my room last night and saw a restaurant brochure she has given me sometime in the summer. She often insisted that I should visit her family’s restaurant, offering me a discount as her teacher. I wish I did. 

I wish she tickled me more. 
I wish she smiled more. 
I wish I hugged her more. 

As while I am writing this, Aya, lies, peacefully, in her grave after being ill for around five months. 

I spoke about her in present because I will always want to remember her as if she was still here, sitting at her desk, planning her next mischievous move, writing a new ‘I love you, teacher’ note to give me at the end of the lesson. 

Aya, you will always be remembered by all your loved ones. May your soul rest in peace. 

Note: I chose to write this to keep her alive in the memory of whoever knew her and express my deepest condolences to all that loved her—family, friends, and her teachers.  

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