It was a quiet day for me. Many of my students are still away on festive holidays and some unfortunately have caught the bug. It was just the ten year old and I in the class. The room echoed with such emptiness, I could feel the breeze of the air-con mocking at me.

After the short lesson, the little brown eyed boy, brimming in his square spectacles beamed at me with a smile. His gesture appeared to invite a conversation so I walked close to his desk and asked, “Any problem with the work?” ” I don’t understand this word” the timid voice spoke. I nodded in acknowledgment and our eyes had an unspoken conversation. He then, took out his exercise book and wrote the word down, blinks his eyes, waiting for my assistance. I did what was required of me and the young boy continued his exercise.

While waiting, I went through his list of vocabulary, the knowledge I imparted and found that he had not done his homework – use the dictionary at home and find the meaning of the words listed. I fancy I turned a trifle moody silence and it was noticeable. After an awkward pause, I could almost hear the chasing rhythm of his heart. Guilt clouded his face. It seemed an eternity before he built the courage to clarify his position, although I never ask of him. It wasn’t a reason I was hoping for but more the hidden agenda behind the task, to gauge if the child had the spoon feeding attitude.

Trying to refrain from being philosophical to just a child, I knew I failed to hold my tongue when I heard myself say, “Imagine this, your mother cooks for you, puts food on the table, feeds you, you still need to chew and swallow, right?” The boy looks at me dumbfounded, then nodded. “If you don’t swallow, is your mother gonna be the one being hungry ?” I continued. He shakes his head. “So, if teacher cooks you the word, put it in your mouth and you don’t do your part to chew and swallow, who is not learning, you or me?” outspokenly the words came out. I was wondering if I was making any sense on this metaphor. He looks down and looks back at me, his eyes sparkled for a brief moment as if the lesson just dawned upon him.”Do you want to learn?” the words struck again. He showed such confidence and replied, “Yes”. “Then, please swallow” the conversation ended and I walked back to my table.

What a day for the poor boy.