Wednesday and Thursday, I started to feel calm each morning. I continued my classes. I was writing and writing every free period, all to keep my mind focused on breaking free, or else I was afraid I‘d get too settled and decide to stay. So I was planning where to go. My mind was already away from teaching. I had suddenly taken a disliking to the whole profession and I was sure that it wasn’t for me. The passion to teach that I found in Kayamkulam and had brought to Ebenezer, had vanished within the space of a week and I was eager to find another way to sustain my travels. However, in between all of this “certainty”, I enjoyed the lessons I was still giving. They gave me light and hope. But hang on!!! That’s not what I wanted! I wanted to leave, right! What a contradiction. I got more and more confused with the different thoughts. I got too much inside my own head. I didn’t want to bond with the kids and any brightness I got from my lessons, I rejected and felt guilty for feeling, because it got me doubting whether I should stay after all. But I blocked it out. Just like I blocked some contact with the teachers, for not wanting to get too close to them and suddenly “leaving“. I wanted in my heart but I couldn’t let myself. I remained silent and I spoke with nobody about my plans to leave.
Up until Friday morning, my mind was still made-up. I was going. Then the phonecall came. It was the agency saying that the new teacher from England had arrived. He would be at the school within an hour! I couldn’t believe it.. It was actually happening.. I was being “released” (even though they still needed and wanted me to stay). I felt sick though. Huuummmmm. Right, I had to stay focused and I swore not to be persuaded into staying.
Then.. in walked Paul. A guy in his late 40’s from Manchester. A white man speaking with an accent so strong, I instantly thought of Coronation Street and Eastenders. What a familiar sound! How nice! The strangest thing I thought: there is actually life outside of this place! Paul was in England only 2 days ago! The world is still turning and life is still going on outside of this prison? What a fantastic feeling. I felt such a relief just seeing him and hearing his English. It was like I had been given a lifejacket and he was rescuing me from the “island” I felt I had landed myself on.
I didn’t run to the hostel to pack my bags, instead we spoke and spoke about the whole situation, for hours. I was being totally honest about wanting to leave, about feeling imprisoned, about my classes not going well, about my confidence being shattered and about my spark having gone out. I spoke about the discipline that’s being applied and about the barrier the local language creates between myself and the teachers.
Paul is experienced when it comes to teaching English is such foreign countries, which was a big plus. He understood everything. He listened and listened and even though he didn’t know me, he wanted me to see this through - not for the agency, not for him, not for the school, but for myself. I didn’t know what I was doing at that point in time, but just by having a friend to listen to me talking, was making me see the light. I realized so much.