Saturday, April 11, 2015

The inattentive one

She walked into the classroom and the class quietened down. She immediately went to the whiteboard, and scribbled down the homework for the day and tasked the children to do them right away.

Except that he didn't. He was just looking everywhere except at the textbook. She can see his eyes roaming around the classroom. Sometimes they will settle on his classmates, sometimes the interior of the classroom but often they are looking out of the window. His eyes also seemed to follow where she went, like she's the jailor of the prison he's incarcerated in. Once a while, he'll flip the pages of his textbook. But the boring texts always manages to push him away into the welcoming arms of the distracting world.

With fists clenched, she called his name out. She scolded him in front of everyone. She insisted he stay back after her lesson so that he can properly impound onto him the seriousness of his transgressions.

Bell rang and school ended. Everyone packed up their school bags to leave this high noon showdown. The ceiling fan whirled in grave anticipation. Even the chirping of the birds came to a halt outside the window.

He walked up to her and stood there, deathly still. She scolded him and threatened to call his parents. But still, he stood there, not defending himself for his actions.

"How dare he challenge me with this passive aggressive attitude! Still no remorse! ", she thought. She can feel her heart pounding heavily.

"Sorry teacher...", that's all he managed to say.

This is all quite strange for this troublesome kid. Going to the discipline master's office for counselling is a common occurrence for him. Why is he so placid today?

Still not satisfied with him, he punished him by asking him to stay back for another 3 hours for detention, so that he can reflect on his mistakes. With that, she dismissed him and he began to walk out of the classroom without a word.

Is he so hardened that he didn't even bother to reply? Why is he not doing his work? Partly to start a new round of scoldings and partly out of curiosity, she demanded his replies just before he is about to disappear behind the classroom doors.

"I don't wish to upset you, ma'am, " he answered softly.

"I saw people passing the answers of the homework on pieces of paper around the class and was deciding if I want to tell you or join them."

"I saw one of the fluorescent lights in the classroom is of a different shade of colour than the rest. It's a bit more whitish compared to the rest. They must have used a different wattage. The lights cast strange overlapping shadows on the floor, sometimes growing in length and sometimes shortening and I was fascinated by it"

"I followed the smell of rain on grass through the windows and I was so excited because there's a rainbow arcing across the fields! The birds are chirping as if to beckon everyone to look at it but everyone seems too busy to notice it,"

".. and ma'am, I don't want to upset you because since the beginning of this week, you're not wearing the ring that you've been wearing since you've been teaching us here. "

She cried.

Her tears are not for herself alone - the teacher who only pays attention to the wrong done by the boy and nothing else. It's also for the inattentive boy in class who pays attention to everything else.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...



Beautiful writing.

I look myself in the mirror.


Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

Too many people focus in the wrong things in life, and often, sadly, realized only when there is not much time left in their life.

Similarly, too many people focus in the wrong persons in life they wanted to spend time with or emulate or worship that they forget entirely to focus on themselves!

Somehow they know their competitors or neighbours strengths n weakness very well, but not their own!

Thanks for the reminder in this article!

Jimmy L said...

Human are gregarious animal with herd instinct . We go after what everyone else want. Terrace house, BMW , Audi , etc
Only a handful wise ones don't follow the crowd

la papillion said...


This post is for those people who never pays attention to what others deemed important, but nevertheless pays attention to what they think are important.

Don't we always pay attention to what we think are important? Haha!

It's also a reminder to myself not to judge a fish ability to climb a tree.

la papillion said...

Hi rolf,

Haha, the good thing about stories is that it lets u interpret however you like! Stories are robust in that sense.

I have a different intention when writing this though. It's just a simple message: when someone doesn't pay attention, it means other things are more worthy of their attention! People are paying attention all the time, maybe just not to you :)

la papillion said...

Hi jimmy,

Wow, what made you say that after reading the short story? Your comment caught me unaware lol!

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


I sigh because the who I want to be is not looking right back at me in the mirror :(

Much cultivation remains to be done.

"Cher, I don't want to upset you..."

I've converted your english to singlish.

And I sigh...

la papillion said...


Awareness is the first step ;) I think this is still better than looking at the mirror and seeing a perfect you - that's delusional or what?!

I like your singlish version. That's more endearing :)