Translation of Dutch shortstories by Yara Dhont.


3. No authority

“Mathematics, it’s so marvellous,” he said with a drooping smile.
“But sir, I really don’t understand,” a pupil pressed on without raising his hand.
“Yeah? What the f*ck is marvellous about it?” protested another with a gesture towards the formula on the chalk board. The neighbour had a puzzled and irritated expression on his face targeted on the formula.
“But… what is it you don’t understand?!” the obsessed teacher yelled. Mathematics was his life. Wife and child were second ranking. The things he called ‘basics’ were way too difficult for the students.
He sighed, dashed his chalk on the ground and took a new one.
“Oh come on! Again!” he spoke with a flat and angry overtone, something he always did when he became frustrated.
When he walked to the free side-board the noise rose up in the classroom.
In a fierce yank he turned towards the pupils and roared on a whim of anger: “Ho ho come on! Don’t act like that! You don’t understand! You don’t pay attention! We’ll see at the end of the ride, huh!”
For him, the end of the ride meant the end of the semester, when a lot of students didn’t pass for his exams. Most pupils laughed in his face when he tried to calm down the class with a botched speech. The threat hidden in his words seemed a long time from now.
The students continued talking undisturbed, mostly in the back of the room. There they threw gums at each other, did an attempt of self-study or made useless doodles in their notes.
The teacher became furious and went berserk, inside. He was sick of the disrespectful twats. Why didn’t he manage to get a job at the university? It bothered him since a long time. And now he was stuck with this gang of adolescents, dissidents, aliens. He took a deep breath and was about to throw a fuss when the door opened and the secretary entered.
It became silent more or less, because this woman did have authority. That bothered the teacher scratching his grey head and pacing in front of the classroom. He hated the fact that his lesson mathematics was interrupted. Precious time was lost.
The secretary, who thought about herself as an educator, sighed soundless, checked the list on her clipboard and looked up at the class. Without any interest she asked yet again: “Are there any absentees?”


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