The F’antomville Teacher


3rd post. 1st Short Fiction

It was particularly chilly that day, too cold, in fact, for early November. So, when people saw David sitting near a fire, they didn’t think too much on it. His friends were all at school. His parents thought he was there too. He had been patient all along but when the headmaster threw him out of class for the 7th time for the same reason, he decided that enough was enough.

“Are those books you are burning? What have they done to you?” David stiffened at the stern voice. Cautiously turning his head, he saw the source of the voice, an old man, about sixties, his grey eyes looking at him questioningly. He turned back, ignoring the man. “Burning the problem is not a solution, my lad.” The old man’s voice kindly reminded him. “I hate maths. I fail no matter how much I try. I am done now.” David says, dejected.

“I am sure it’s not that bad. I used to teach maths in my time. Infact, I taught your teacher too! Maybe I could help?” David stares at the old man in surprise and then slowly, nods. He did want to pass, after all.

December found the two of them engrossed in a heated discussion on whether elimination was a better method or substitution. By January, he could do, with ease, sums he had dreaded.

The finals? He scored a perfect hundred!

Everyone came to congratulate him. He had never seen his parents so happy. Yet, his eyes searched for his teacher, the one who made the impossible, possible. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find him anywhere that day. He searched and asked around for his master but no one had heard of him. It appeared as if he had disappeared in a puff of smoke!

As days turned into months, he had almost given up all hope of seeing his master. Perhaps he had gone to another city on some urgent business, he told himself. Few weeks later, his school reopened and David became engrossed in his studies again. On one such day, he was summoned to the headmaster’s office. He wished to speak to him regarding his surprisingly good results.

The headmaster welcomed him warmly into his office and congratulated him. All was going well until his eyes fell on a particular portrait hung on the wall. He immediately stands up and looks at the photo carefully. It was him, his teacher! There was no mistaking it, those grey eyes, full of kindness and wisdom. He turns back, elated at having finally found his teacher, hoping to know all about him from the headmaster.

“Ah yes, that was my father. He was the founder of this school and a very gifted mathematician, loved and respected by all. He died of a heart attack 5 years ago.”

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