Her Dandelion

By Hasina Raoufi

It was the first day of her work as a teacher for first class students. She was really curious about knowing her sweet students and her head was full of ideas. Her students would experience a new type of society other than their homes or kindergartens. Their teacher would be like a guiding angel for them, and she knew this truth better than anyone else. She reviewed her first speech again and again in her mind.

When she arrived at school, she was a little bit stressed but breathed deeply and opened the brown wooden door to enter. She saw a little classroom with a mild green colour on its walls and there was a fresh smell that tickled her nose. About ten desks were in two rows and in each of them sat two students. This was amazing and much better than in her thoughts, because in her imagination she had prepared to cope with boisterous tiny children. But they were not like that, though she learned later that it was because of the manager’s speech about the school’s rules before her arrival.

The students were polite and silent so she could hear the voices of birds from out of the window. She introduced herself and began her work by getting to know her students. There were twenty students, eleven boys and nine girls. Their school uniforms were neat and their hair proper. They were so cute, tiny angels with beautiful hearts, but not as silent as they seemed in the first moment. This became clear just after a few minutes, when nobody could stop them from talking with each other and walking around. Some of them were crying because they were missing home. They were just six or seven years old, so that was normal and expected but hard to handle!

On other days, the teacher learned from her class. She learned that she should be patient with them. They were too young to know something like discipline. She understood this when she saw that they usually did not do some part of their homework just because they did not like doing it, or when they stood in the middle of class whenever they wanted due to being tired of sitting. She understood that they do what they want without paying attention to rules, and she should change them to typical adults that decide and act logically. But still in her thoughts this kind of freedom was pleasant…doing what you want and living according to what you feel without annoying anyone; maybe this was the real way of life that we should follow…

She learned other points, too. For example, she should sympathize with them when they miss their home in school and class. But, the most important thing was that she should develop logical rules for explaining the world’s truths to them. However, the student’s belief in their teacher made these explanations difficult. She needed to infer truths about life, death, war and love without frightening the children or lying.

She made new methods for teaching them, because teaching children should not be a humdrum work. She took them many times to little gardens in school. Sometimes she told stories and sometimes she played with them. As a young girl who was now experiencing teaching after her teachers’ training, she asked first for answers from books. She read about children and how to come to terms with them. She also asked other teachers, used her creative powers, and even asked her mom; because nobody knows children as much as mothers. She did all of this because she knew the importance and sensitivity of work as a first class teacher. As a person who makes the first impression on children of school, her attitude was important.

One day when she was teaching them in the school’s garden, one of the students found a dandelion and said, ”Teacher! See here I found a dandelion, my mom said dandelions can be messengers. It is so beautiful!!” She said that with a lovely smile on her lips.

Teacher became excited and explained dandelions to them. “Oh really? Come and show it to your friends! My dears! Your friend is right, these are amazing plants and you can tell them your messages so they will send words to your recipients. Stand up kids! try to find a dandelion for everyone.”

The students became happy and tried to find one for themselves and meanwhile the teacher was speaking: “Dandelions are discreet so you can trust them with your messages. Today I want everyone to send a message.”

One of the students asked: “How will they find our recipient’s address?”

Teacher thought and said, “I think wind will help them, yes wind goes everywhere.”

In a few minutes everybody found one for themselves, so the teacher started speaking again. ”Oh my dears, now let’s leave a message, you are not forced to say your messages out loud, because it can be private” (teacher said this sentence with a wink and a smile) “but if you want you can share your recipients, and after that we all together will blow. So who wants to be the first one?”

One of the students who was usually a calm student said, ”I want to send a message to my daddy. He is in war…I am not sure why he is far from us but my mother said that my daddy went there because he is a good man and he went there to keep everything like it is now.”

Teacher’s eyes became full of tears but she controlled herself. In fact her own recipient was her brother who was in war too, but she knew the reason for war and many other things that did not give tranquility or offer comfort, but it was better than nothing. She thought that children do not know these things, and even if they know, they can not understand, they will just miss their loved one. How complicated. Why didn’t she anticipate this before proposing the sending message idea? What should she say now? How should she explain something like war to children?

She was in her thoughts but she should control the class so she rallied herself and said to the students, ”That is great, you will make him happy with your message, I am sure your father really misses you. Who will be next?” She thought, defining war is not something I can handle now, I have to pass to have more time.

Other students said their recipients one by one, and most of them wanted to send a message to their fathers or mothers in war. Most of them, like the first student, didn’t have an exact definition for war, they just wanted their parents next to them. Teacher tried to explain to them that their parents were good people desiring peace and calm who went to a faraway place and were missing their kids, families and homes. She tried to convince them but that was too hard, because they were too young to understand many things. They had many questions like the exact meaning of death, war, danger, and soldier. Teacher could only tell them that if someone dies he or she will go to God and a better place and their parents would come back soon when they could. She could not convince them completely, so she tried to finish the day by blowing dandelions to have more time.

After class she thought that she should collect her ideas and have a better definition for war and their other questions. But in the meantime, students’ questions made her think deeply and now she was not sure that even she knew the meaning of those words. She was confused. She walked all the school yard and the corridor of the ground floor from the students’ building to the office building and didn’t look up. She was in her thoughts, so she didn’t understand when someone entered the office. After entering, her manager called her, so she came out of her mind. “Oh yes, sir.”

“Miss Teacher I have a bad message…the father of one of your students…passed away in war, so you have to help her as a teacher to come to terms with these circumstances. ”

She was shocked, she could hear the voice of her heart beat, just like it beats in her head, she could not find enough air, a sense like suffocating and meanwhile she thought: most of the students’ fathers are in war, this was which one? But when she asked, the answer saddened her more. It was the first student, the girl she had promised that her message would be received by her father and he would come back as soon as he could. How cruel a world, she thought, with eyes full of tears…and a heart full of sorrow…

In that day and days after, she continued to ask questions. What is the exact definition of war? Who will be hurt and who will profit from it? Who is a soldier? What is death? And what is the real meaning of life? She couldn’t find her previous definitions.

Now she was like her students, just like a white page. The questions that made her the most upset was about the first student. What happened to her dandelion? Wind will take it where?

9 July, 2023