We arrived at the school. I was dreading it. This really was so unlike me: My first day to be the English teacher (not to be in training, as I had been during the other teaching experiences) and this was what was happening! I really couldn’t believe it. There were 70 kids and 10 teachers. There was an opening ceremony we had to attend. We did a group meditation and performed some rituals that are accustomed to the school. Usually this would have excited me. Actually every little detail would usually have excited me; from the village I had entered, the kids I was seeing, to the teachers who welcomed me and the “doors” that were opening up to me. But all I felt was misery. I could hardly smile, speak, walk or engage. So it goes without saying that I definitely wasn’t able to concentrate, to focus, to feel free, to see this amazement and to meditate. It was so painful. At that moment, all the kids were so peaceful, they were meditating, as were the teachers, as was Suresh, who was also guiding the meditation. I would have given anything to have experienced that with the whole group. All I felt instead, was that my body had been taken over by something. It felt to be possessed. It was like something had entered me. I was no longer myself. There was definitely something wrong, physically and emotionally.
I then had to get up in front of everybody and introduce myself. I couldn’t believe it. Usually I would have jumped at the chance. But I was hardly able to say 2 words without bursting into tears. How would I get through a “speech” I hadn’t prepared, in the state I was in? Wouw man.. How intense this was! But somehow I did it. I looked like death, and my voice was weak, but I spoke without crying and they welcomed me with open arms. How grateful I was, or when I look back it now, I am. Then, however, I was still wanting to run and hide and cry.. How nice that would have been. But I couldn’t. I had to keep myself together. I had a meeting to attend with the headmistress, with Suresh and with the assistants. They obviously wanted my ideas, my input, my views on how to approach the method of teaching. Oh no! I was hardly able to say where I was from without breaking down. We sat together and I wasn’t going to pretend I was fine, when I was only hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I told the teachers I wasn’t well, which led to a series of events: I broke down (again) in tears, spent ages in the bathroom trying to pull myself together, went back to the office and continued to despair, was forced by Suresh to befriend the students and have a short introduction lesson, was still very emotional, felt I really couldn’t do this, felt like a loser for letting everyone down and felt physically sick at the thought of being pushed so much into doing something I obviously wasn’t able to do!
Something from somewhere inside made me stand up, wipe my face, put on a smile and meet the kids. And I’m so glad I did. They were amazing, gorgeous, happy, smiling and so fascinated to see me. I only spent a short while with them as I was starting to talk in riddles, I was repeating things and saying things they would never understand. The headmistress came to take me away, telling the kids that “ma'am” isn’t well, that she needs rest and will be back tomorrow to take the class. Thank god for that saving grace..