Prompt by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com
A New Beginning
The sound of approaching footsteps forced Nina to look up from behind the pile of books stacked on the table. It was the Vice-Principal walking up to her with a big smile.
“Good Morning. Welcome to St Mary’s! You’re certainly not new to this place, Nina.”
“Good Morning, Sister Philomena,” Nina muttered and smiled back. With trepidation in her heart and a sense of excitement that she hadn’t known before, Nina reached for Sr Philomena’s outstretched hand.
“Your class is waiting for you, Nina.” Sister Philomena announced, pointing towards the corridor at the far end of the library.
“Of course, Sister.” Nina picked up her bag, readying herself for her very first English class with the tenth graders. Nervous, as hell, her knees nearly giving in, Nina stood at the door, alongside the Vice-Principal, pausing for a minute before stepping in.
The girls stood up to wish their new teacher. Sister Philomena stood outside, waving at Nina. She stood there for a minute and promptly left. Nina entered the classroom, introduced herself and smiled. It was possibly a class of 30 students, eagerly looking at her. A few bore a quizzical look on their faces, trying to look for something, that perhaps even they were not very sure of.
Nina looked at the far end of the room. The bench where she used to sit, as a tenth-grader, and the window that she used to gaze out from, every time she felt bored in the Social Science class. Suddenly, eight years ago didn’t seem distant anymore. A torrent of memories swept by, bringing in a flurry of faces that she recognised—some happy, smiling faces, some bemused and a few, that hardly displayed any emotion. She was part of a group of five that always stuck together. Her train of thoughts was suddenly broken—
“Miss, we’re doing Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.”
A sharp jolt brought her back to the present.
“Yes. Sure. Let’s start. But first, let’s keep aside a few minutes for the introductions, shall we?”
The girls stood up, one by one and introduced themselves. Nina listened intently, using her secret strategy of mnemonics to remember their names, nodding and smiling at each of them.
Once in a while, she glanced out of the window next to her. The tall pines at the farther end of the road kept swaying to the roaring winds, as dark cumulonimbus clouds gathered in layers, ready to burst any minute.
It was the season of rain and thundershowers in the quiet hill-town where she had currently come to live, after spending eight years away from home.
For Nina, though, it was also a season of hope and wonderment, as she began a new chapter in her life. It would be wrong to say that she had chosen to teach. The truth was quite the contrary—it was the vocation of teaching that had chosen her. The truth was that it was the only thing that had consumed her heart and soul.
The battered hardbound copy of the textbook she was meant to teach from, was oddly comforting for some reason, it’s sepia-tinted pages bearing countless tales from the past, that made Nina smile, as she dived into Chapter 14. The first lesson was a trite special for her, the first of the many many more, in the years to come.
Unbeknownst to Nina, she had just set off on a journey of a lifetime—one that she would forever look back with a certain sense of fondness mixed with nostalgia, long after she’d have left the hallowed portals of the convent.