It was home time at school.
We used to gather local children and walked to our primary school as groups every morning. On the way home, we travelled in smaller groups; basically whomever available to tag together, making sure that no body was left behind. We learned to look out for one another like that from such young age, just as a part of everyday life.
I was about to leave the school building with two other children that afternoon, both of them boys from the same grade. We got on well and we often walked together and played together.
So we were changing into outside shoes from what we wore inside through the day while at school. We each had a shoe locker, and I bent over to tend to my shoes when….I saw the boys run past behind me fast and one of them swooped my hat away from my head….the beginning of another scramble.
I was never a champion but I could run fast if I was chasing somebody. So off I went, screaming and shouting all I wanted like any other time. But then I had two boys who knew me well running ahead of me and split left and right, and I seriously did not know which one to chase.
Just in the corner of my eyes, I could see somebody come out of the teachers room. Sh#t, I thought. I bet they saw me doing something completely un-ladylike. I turned my head to see who the moving figure was and swallowed.
It was the headmaster.
I straightened my back immediately, but it was too late. I saw the man reach for something with one hand and wave me over with another. I decided it was a smart idea to surrender, so I approached, trying to look as innocent as possible.
The headmaster looked at me. And before I could open my mouth to say anything, he waved me over again to approach closer. The headmaster could not possible hit me, I thought. But will he?
Of course he did not hit me. But he did something that would remain with me for the rest of my life.
He was on one knee, tying his shoelaces, and from this hight looked straight into my eyes. He said, “You are going to be something quite remarkable. I know it.” I was dumb struck. He was supposed to tell me off. I was sure of it. And before I could open my mouth, or remotely recover from the shock, he told me to go home.
I remember saying “good bye schoolmaster” like a well mannered child. And I walked towards my friends who handed my hat back immediately. They thought I was in trouble too. They thought they behaved like cowards, for not coming after me to receive the punishment together. They asked me. “What did he tell you?”
I looked at my friends and said. “The headmaster told me that I am lucky to have good friends.”
“Is that all?,” my friends asked. I said yes, and we walked home just like any other day.
Many years later.
I went through my life’s ups and downs like everybody else who lived. And I remember. Even though I don’t always refer to the headmaster, I am affirmed that I would get through whatever the difficulties comes along. Because I know that one day, I am going to be something quite remarkable. I just haven’t got there yet.
It reminds me how, such small moment of blessings could change a child’s outlook for the rest of her life. What a blessing it was.