A Career in Teaching

The day I become an educationist, I will not teach the Pythagoras theorem or the right way to punctuate (though you ought to know when a semicolon is used and not a full stop).

I will teach kids things I wish I didn’t have to teach myself. For instance, yesterday, I learnt how to keep my breakfast down in the middle of town after sudden clammy palms and an erratic heartbeat.

I will teach them how counting the cracks on the side of the pavement or skipping to maneuver the edges on the road can keep you from imagining your loved ones dying. At least for a little while.

I will teach them to look for a red van delivering posts across town, peer out their vehicle window and imagine grabbing a lost letter finding its way home to them for every phone call their lover rejects.

There could be days you will lie curled up in bed, exhausted, I will tell them, for so long that you may miss class or the train, or an important meeting, but sleeping in for just a bit more may mean saving your life.

You will make mistakes, I will tell them, such grave ones that you’ll go searching every drawer you can find for a magical eraser that could wipe them right off. Or you’ll go researching a time machine.

(Maybe you will build that time machine.) Either way, you can revisit the past over and over again, but what’s done will be done, and you will have to live with the consequences, I will remind them.

You will sink to the ground, but you sure as hell don’t have to stay there, I will say. Or hang your head low, thank heavens for the sternocleidomastoid and splenius muscles that help it defy gravity!

Find a beverage or a food, maybe a favourite poem or an object that fits in the palm of your hand that can serve as your talisman, I will tell them kindly, for days you cannot bear to live on.

It’s a long journey, this life, and the mitochondria will keep its powerhouse going even if a person momentarily forgets how it does so. But on days when you are certain the world is conspiring for your downfall,

I will tell them, hold your breath for twenty counts and then go out seeking fireflies. For you see, science can teach you how sunlight angles through a prism, but you will need to learn how to catch its glint for yourself.

Aashika Suresh is a freelance writer from the Indian beach city of Chennai. She writes on days the world makes sense to her; and then again on days it doesn’t. Aashika was placed among the top 30 poets in Wingword Poetry Competition 2017 and her work has appeared in Erbacce Press’ chapbook, Literary Yard, Wax Art and Poetry, Visual Verse, and Bones Journal, among others. On most days, she seeks out good poetry, sunshine, coffee and puppies.