The Substitute Teacher: Number Games

It was bad enough having to work out Maths problems in one’s notebook. How was Esha working them out on the board before everyone?

December 16, 2022 08:27 am | Updated 08:27 am IST

Story so far: Thanks to the ST, VI C now shares its lunch and takes care of Shravan. Should the class just accept him?

The class was always coming up with new reasons to not accept the ST. When he began to teach them Maths, in addition to English and Games, they found a new one. His method of teaching Maths was unlike anything they had ever encountered.

He used chocolates and toys and friends and foes as examples to explain. When that was done, he covered one side of the blackboard with problems to solve. While VI C wrestled with the problems, he walked around. People hunched over their notebooks, curved their arms protectively around their work and hid it under a clutter of papers, books and pencil boxes. When the ST said, “Esha, please solve the first problem on the board!”, VI C heaved a sigh of relief.

Esha had never really belonged to VI C, though she sat with them. She didn’t belong to any gang and was no one’s enemy. She spoke little and was easily forgotten. But, today, many people felt sorry for her. Maths was challenging even among the secret pages of your notebook. But to do it on the blackboard, in front of everyone!

More Maths

Esha didn’t seem to feel the pressure. Walking to the blackboard, she began to write on it as if she did it daily. Numbers and symbols were like good friends and she wrote easily till, with a quiet flourish, she wrote the last number and stepped back.

“Good,” the ST nodded. “Would you like to do another one?” VI C groaned in horror. Who in the world would willingly ask for more Maths?

It turned out that there was one and she just happened to belong to VI C. They watched, whispering in astonishment, as Esha solved problem after problem, filling the board with smooth ease.

When the bell finally released Esha from the spell, she was surrounded by her classmates, all asking, “How did you do that?” Esha stared and said, “I… find it…Maths easy!”

“Easy?” they howled. “How?” The question kept them busy all day and even into the week. People were always coming up to Esha to ask her about Maths problems. Surprised by her sudden popularity, she tried to explain as best as she could. “I think,” she said, “the numbers like me!”

Her reply enchanted VI C. They had never met anyone whom numbers liked. They were proud to have her among them. From that day, Esha was no longer lonely. Pulled into the rough embrace of VIC, she was the girl who was loved by numbers.

(To be continued)

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