Tall, slender, black as ebony, graceful and lithe. Snow white was a wonder to behold – almost even more puzzling than her name.
She was laid back, pleasant and always in good spirits. One day, our consistently irritable teacher asked her why she had that kind of name.
“It was given to me by my grandmother” Snow white said.
“Hmph!” was the only response the teacher managed to snort. Always short tempered, she wasn’t in the best of moods anyway. She was heavy, expecting any day now, and the pregnancy had been a difficult one. Finding herself in charge of a classroom full of lively young preteens worked her last nerve.
Especially when one of those preteens was named Snow white. Who would give their kid a name like that! And the girl was as dark as coal, for crying out loud!!!
She snorted in disgust again and got up, heavily, to leave.
“Turn in your homework assignments and have them at my desk before I leave today. Where’s the class captain?” The class captain is known as class monitor in western countries.
“She’s not here, ma” the class chanted dutifully, alert and waiting to see if or when she would pounce on someone in irritation.
“Not here? What do you mean?”
“She’s not in school today, ma. Maybe she’s sick” a few voices chanted in unison. No one really wanted to stand out for the teacher to pick on, as she was wont to do whenever someone caught her eye. She had the biting gift of sarcasm, and she never failed to unleash it on some unsuspecting student. Knowing this, some girls pretended to be glued to their books, while others acted studious and pens in hand, seemed to be working out some very knotty problems in their textbooks. In reality, they were all waiting for the teacher’s exit.
Only Snow white remained unconcerned, gazing at the teacher with large, lustrous and sympathetic eyes. She seemed unaware of the atmosphere around her, lost in a world inhabited by two people only- her and the teacher. What was she thinking? Probably feeling empathy for the teacher’s condition. Snow white was like that. Though retiring, with a seeming desire to fade into the background, she still managed to connect with others in a way undeciphered by them.
The teacher’s eye fell on Snow white. Her irritation mounted. Why was the girl staring at her in that daft manner!!!
“Snow white!” she shrieked. The class jumped, startled, in unison. An almost perceptible sigh of relief ran through the room. Snow white could handle it.
“Yes ma?” Snow white stood up. She was a couple of inches taller than the teacher and this didn’t help matters.
The teacher glared at her for a moment.
“Snow black, or whatever you call yourself, get your class assignments for me and bring them to the teachers lounge within an hour. I must have them on my desk within one hour, and everyone has to turn them in. Let me know if someone’s work is missing”
“Yes ma” Snow white said. She didn’t bother correcting the teacher about her name. It was intentional, and this teacher in particular always called her Snow black whenever she was in a worse mood than usual. Her feelings didn’t matter- her grades did, and those weren’t too good at the moment. Actually, they were rarely good. Snow white sighed, unconsciously, waiting for her prince.
The teacher looked at her one more time, then walked out of the classroom. She thudded heavily down the front porch, then on to the little flower-strewn path under the blossoming trees in the courtyard which cut across the assembly grounds. The lane was a favorite short cut to the main building which housed the teacher’s lounge.
It was a beautiful school.
Snow white watched her go, still sighing unconsciously, waiting to come into flower.
It was a lovely day outside and the trees were profusely alive with petals.