Journal of a Cook- Part 1

A fictional story


Kikruneinuo Liezietsu
Kohima Nagaland


It was a rainy morning as I walked towards the school. My neighbour had joked about his old schooldays in the far off village that he as a student in a government school, rainy days were holidays. In summer, during classes if there is a rain in the afternoon, the schoolmaster has to declare an emergency holiday so as to tend the rainwater into his paddy field. It was indeed more profitable to have the holiday then to sit in the class. I had to shrug off the thought that with the pace of time and in a city like Kohima, government schools are moving on for a change. Rainy or sunny, the number of working days are strictly monitored. And this morning, I had to go to cook the Mid-day meal for the students. I had being appointed to be the cook and to receive an honorarium for my duty.


The excitement had led me to reach the school too early. The students are settling down to take the morning assembly. They might have thought that I am a new one to the teaching faculty. Two small girls came and wished me ’Good morning’, giggled and ran away shyly. I looked more embarrassed because I have no confidence to say any English words though I knew it all. I am just a cook. At that moment, one brunette came in with a guitar on her back towards me. I had no clue on what to say but she had it all about me and guided me to a door, unlocking sturdily and open up my workplace- the kitchen. It looked stuffy and I sneezed once and twice, put on my apron and started what I had to do.


The children are singing so well like a mentored choir. I reminiscent the good old days when I also sang every morning in the chapel until I was stopped because I sang one bollywood song. I had already sang all the Sunday’s songs I knew. I had nothing else to do except to take the stage again to read memory verses. These children in the schools are reciting together in choruses the John 3:16 which I also mumbled along with them. Surely, this place is nostalgia haven for me. I heard the guitar strings strum with new songs. That melodious brunette voice later on turnout to be spitting fire upon the whole lot. There is a pin-dropped silent now as she fired on some phrases I caught, “clean uniform”, “clean classroom”, “clean home”, “clean hands”, “clean hearts”, and something in hindi as “Swachhta pakhwada”. The brunette teacher had done well her morning role.


As I began to prepare a big meal and listened around, the bell toll shook me up. I peeked through the door and saw more teachers. Some wiping their sweat, fanning with notebooks, sipping water, powdering the nose etc, making such hustling and bustling in the morning for the first period. This young lady caught my attention. She has just collected her register and begging around for a red pen for correction, blue pen for the register marking and a white board writer pen. If I had it, I would have given but weren’t those meant to be in a teacher’s bag all times?


Then I came across a cool gentleman of short stature articulating the perfect English that suited an English gentleman. He calmly collected Four Maths textbooks and left for good. I didn’t saw him until recess time as I served him the lukewarm tea. During my times in school, my maths teacher was a North-Indian man with a moustache to play on while we memorised formulae. I greeted this gentleman with a warm motherly smile and blessed him that he should work hard for the students like he is doing right now with full dedication. For a moment, he was lost in some deep thought and retorted back at me like I had said something wrong. After that gruesome moment, it makes me never to speak to educated working people being paid less. They are in tooth and nail for their work but their dissatisfaction over their pay can always bring a new side of them. All he said was, “…and paid some 8k!”. I didn’t get what he said at first, but surely his face bore a terrible look.


I had no more energy to be embarrassed. To giggle and ran away shyly was an option but I wasn’t the little girls. I detached myself from that situation and quickly collecting the tray, I went off to the kitchen and sobbed silently. The young-pen-beggar lady came to me and explained about this young maths teacher’s situation of being an Ad-hoc employee and his untold miseries and grievances which ultimately led him to be in such reaction from him time to time. I forgave him then and prayed ‘doubled’ for him in future.


I looked around the staff room; feminine dominated and chattering their heart out to one another while the kids make the best time of the recess shouting their heart out as they collect their plateful of rice and dal. There are these charming mothers advising the younger colleagues about marriage and managing homes. The major subject teachers hold on to serious conversations about lesson planning and teaching aids. There is this young lady quietly correcting the student’s copies and left out of any conversation. At that instance, a female teacher clad in jeans and branded sneakers over a tank top with a crooked stick came in. She reported of the pupils going up to the unfenced terrace which is dangerous and everyone nodded in unison to buy a key to lock the terrace door. As I leaned on the door again to listen to their conversation, there is a diplomatic talk going on. “Teachers should work as Team”, some quipped. “We may come to work regularly and takes our classes but if the next class has no teacher, we are disturbed altogether”. “ Teaching is not just about the notes and explanations, we also have to teach them to laws and rules for disciplines, but we must show them first too”.


The head teacher who is a calm man summoned the male teacher to ring the bell- a prolonged toll that might be heard from the street so as to let the student come back for their classes. As the bell rang and the Pre primary kids with their bags came in asking whether tomorrow is holiday. “No, no, tomorrow we are celebrating Teacher’s Day. Come to school at 9am. Teacher also told not to bring any present, right? Now go home, class A & B chute now!!” the sweet teacher announced. . “Yes Miss”, they chorused together.


I am also done for the day to be a cook and I did call it a day after going through so much as well as hear good conversations. Before the teachers went off to their after-break classes, I wished them “Happy Teacher’s Day” with confidence. But some said that I can wish them tomorrow, “We are also having Pre-teacher’s day feast.”


Writer’s note: Strictly based on fictional and satirical write up abstracted for publishing on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. To bring out stereotypes elements therefore Coincidental events or person is regretted.