The La-Iin Series
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 5”
“It’s a new year, and I have a feeling it’s gonna be a good one!” Sharai said to himself as he walked through the corridors of the solo school. “Who knows, maybe it’ll be the year I finally see some success…”
The people who knew Sharai knew quite well about his cheerfulness, but he felt he was most cheerful whenever he went to the solo school. There was something he liked about the solo school’s atmosphere, and he wasn’t sure whether it came from the one-on-one classrooms or something else.
Sharai head for one of those classrooms now and sat down on one side of the table, then started to unload his backpack.
“Some day, Teik-Kao, you’re gonna take the world by storm. Just gotta build those smarts so people will take your ideas seriously….”
He picked up one of the books and started to read it, humming and kicking his legs back-and-forth under the table. He glanced up when the door opened.
“Hell–oh? I don’t know you, ma’am. Are you new?”
Sharai prided himself on remembering each and every one of his teachers, but he didn’t recognize the young woman who had just walked in. Her face expressionless but her eyes cold, she sat across from him and began to speak.
“I am no member of faculty for this management, whether new or long-time. I simply came by for an inspection and research. The teachers here all talked about an enthusiastic student called Sharai. You wouldn’t happen to be him, would you?”
“I am him! Sharai Teik-Kao, ma’am! What about you?”
“I am Priya Maa-Gu,” she said. “I work in the field of education but with no arrangement of my own. I am trying to learn more about the way education organizations work. I opted to visit solo schools all around Vaelyn for this purpose. I had intended only on doing a general research session while here, but the teachers around me assured that a Mr. Sharai would be one to talk to, what with his enthusiasm.”
“Yeah, I can be pretty enthusiastic,” he said. “But I have my reasons for wanting to learn as much as I do.”
“If that is the case, I suppose you wouldn’t mind talking with me about this enthusiasm? Anything I can use to further my research is a good thing in my eyes. How old are you, boy?”
“Seventeen, Miss Priya. Or is it Mrs.?”
“It’s miss only, though I must admit I prefer ma’am,” Maa-Gu said. “Tell me then, Mr. Sharai, why is it that you are so enthusiastic about learning all sorts of things?”
“I’m glad you asked. You see, since I was a wee munchkin I’ve had all sorts of ideas, ideas that stretch far and wide, ideas that would benefit this world with both progress and fun!” He slammed his hands on the table. His excitement was building at the chance to talk of his passion. “But ever since I was young, nobody took me seriously! They always thought my ideas were dumb and wouldn’t do anything for anybody! And I thought, who do they think they are!? They don’t know that! So what if a lot of them would be really fun? Hey, people need a break from being serious all the time!
“Anyway, I realized that smart people are more likely to be taken seriously. That and mature people, but I’m not completely sure I can manage that, so, you know….heh heh heh! Anyway, I figured if I became smart people would take me seriously and also, it would make my ideas smarter and therefore my ideas would be taken more seriously even if people didn’t think I was smart! Basically becoming smart would just make a whole bunch of great things happen for me and my ideas would spread far and wide around the world, even past Vaelyn hell, maybe my ideas would even bring cheer to North Vaelyn and Dasdoria and such places and so I decided I was going to become really smart and theeeeee end!”
Maa-Gu blinked at Sharai. Her expression had not changed. He froze and sat back down in his seat. “O-of course, ma’am, the short version of it is that becoming smart will help my ideas gain traction and will make them better ideas just in general. Don’t you think?”
“Perhaps,” Maa-Gu said tentatively. “I see you have enthusiasm, boy, which is a good thing. Goodness knows it can seriously lack among school students. But the tirade was not exactly appreciated. I consider myself a master of the Vaelis language but quite frankly I couldn’t make out a good half of what you were saying. …or rather I heard it, but it made such little sense that it might as well have been gibberish or another language.”
“Don’t you think it’s a good reason for studying so much, though?” Sharai chuckled. ‘Ooh, this lady’s definitely one of those overly-serious ones….looks like she needs to cut loose. She can’t possibly be out of her twenties yet, thirty at best, and I already see a wrinkle on her face. Comes from being so straight-laced I’m sure….’
“I suppose it has merits, depending on what these ideas of yours might be,” she continue. “Though seeing you attitude I’m not sure I believe they’re anything good. Still, someone of your knowledge and enthusiasm I believe could be helpful working in a school system….”
Sharai’s nose wrinkled. “A….school system? I don’t really know about that….you mean like being a teacher? My ideas stretch far past teaching other people, ma’am.”
“But you have a true passion for learning, do you not? Even fueled by another desire, you care about learning and it is fun for you, right?”
“Yeah, I guess some of it. It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, when you finally get it it’s so refreshing! Or when you find out a juicy tidbit and you’re just all excited! Kinda like that.”
“…I see. Perhaps I simply don’t understand modern-day seventeen year olds….”
“You barely look a decade older than me, ma’am. Seriously, are you fifty or something? Because you sound like–”
“You were right when you stated I am barely a decade older than you. A few years on that does not make fifty.” She snapped. Sharai flinched. “Sorry, ma’am.”
“Anyway,” she said. “I have come prepared with a test…no, I did not intend to find a student and test them when I came here today. But I had intended on testing some people I took interest in. You are one of those people, Mr. Sharai, what with your enthusiasm. And you speak of said enthusiasm being fueled by ideas. Therein lies my interest in you.”
“Ma’am, I’m still just a kid….”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Maa-Gu asked, her tone becoming cold. She slid a piece of paper towards Sharai.
‘I guess she’s pure, then….’ He looked over the test. “Oh, this doesn’t look so bad. Give me a little, I’ll finish this for you.”
He took out his pencil and began the test. Nothing on it seemed too hard to him until he flipped the page over, but even those weren’t nearly as bad as he had been expecting from such a cold woman. Maa-Gu watched him closesly the whole time, her expression not changing even when he finished.
“I’m done! Here, how’d I do?”
Maa-Gu pulled a marker out from her hair. “I give it a score of ninety-seven. ….very good, Mr. Sharai. Even some smarter children have had trouble with this test. They usually need to think on things a little longer.”
“It was all stuff I learned recently, so it wasn’t a big deal.” Sharai almost felt embarrassed by Maa-Gu’s praise. ‘I want to be smart, not seem like I have a superiority complex….’ “Wait a second, have you given this test to other kids?”
“I have indeed, though they were only test subjects to see how difficult the test would be on average,” she said. “You are the first I gave it to solely based on my intrigue in you. Now that you have done that, I would like to explain to you a plan I have, Mr. Sharai.”
“Throughout my life I have always been interested in the education of others. I was born in a time education wasn’t all that easy to come by. Education is one of the greatest things any person can have. Whether you come by it early in life, or later, whether it comes to you naturally or you struggle, whether you handle your education yourself or you have help…it doesn’t matter. Each and every person, I believe, should have the chance to seek an education. I learned that especially after receiving my own. What I have learned I believe will benefit me. When you have education on your side, more possibilities become available to you. I believe it can help you pursue your passions better than you would without it.”
“…..I know this might seem a little off-topic, but are you a wartime survivor?” He asked. Maa-Gu nodded.
“Yes. My memories of it may not be as strong as those of my elders, but I do remember the war. And after a war, interests are not particularly in education. Anyway, what I decided to do with my life when I got older was to help people seeking that education. I cannot help every person in the world with their educations, and I wouldn’t want to. Some people do better in a classroom setting, some people do better on their own. Others still learn like you, with a one-on-one teacher, a tutor of sorts.”
“Yeah, I do better the less people there are around me, I noticed. That’s why my parents sent me to this solo school….”
“My dream is to start a school. Schools, perhaps, if I can. I want it to be a school where anyone who wants to learn can. I don’t want it to be corrupt or spreading propaganda under the guise of learning, only genuine learning taught by people who know the subject well. And I want no restrictions on that learning based on age, save for perhaps the likes of sex education and such…but yes, that is my dream. And that is why I am interested in a person like you, enthusiastic about education and boasting several ideas. Do you understand?”
“Well….it’s only a pipe dream for now…I have nowhere near the amount of money to start such a thing and I believe reliance on others would only lead to the school somehow becoming corrupt. But someday I wish to start that school.” Maa-Gu stood up from the chair.
“My interest in you ends here, Mr. Sharai, for I cannot exactly ask the help of a seventeen year old with his own goals. But perhaps someday, you’ll hear the name Priya Maa-Gu again, and you’ll remember me. Should you ever decide you’d like to help any within a school setting, and you see my name connected to a school….you are welcome to come by and help me. Perhaps you could be the vice-principal or some such.”
She opened the door. “Farewell, Mr. Sharai. Continue learning. And I apologize for wasting time you could have spent doing just that.”
Maa-Gu left before Sharai could say anything else. But he couldn’t help but be enamored.
“That Miss Priya was wonderful,” he said to himself. “But I just can’t be bogged down by school. My ideas go too far.”
He stared at the door. “I hope she realizes her dream, though.”
Sharai chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny? The mound of work you have to do?” The Principal sighed. “I was hoping you’d actually do work over the holidays, but I suppose I shouldn’t have gotten said hopes up.”
“No, it’s not that,” he said. “I was just remembering something…do you remember back when I was seventeen, Principal?”
The Principal fell silent. Sharai sighed.
“….of course I do, why wouldn’t I?” She said quietly.
Sharai grinned. “Glad to hear it! Hey, just now I was thinking about some of my ideas and I was wondering if something we could implement before the students come back could be…”
The Principal sighed.