Question

A long stretch of silence permeates the room as the students stare at the teacher, and the teacher back at the students. The lack of sound reigns in what, mere moments ago, had been an uproar of protests and explanations, discussion and confusion. The students shift in their seats, fidgeting with their pencils and squinting their eyes in thought. The teacher crosses her arms, letting out a sigh of exasperation. She opens her mouth to reiterate the information she had been repeating for the past ten minutes, when the room explodes into noise again.

“Oh, I get it!”

The words fly through the space between student and teacher, uttered by multiple mouths in near unison. The eyes of those who spoke light up, having gained enlightenment through this small task of understanding. Those who are still entrapped in the realms of thought turn to face their peers, brows still furrowed in confusion. They implore them to explain, in simpler terms, the meaning of the lessons of their teacher. The now-knowledgeable ones are eager to speak, pride welling in their voices as they break down the process that has their classmates’s minds boggled. As each begins to make sense of these words of wisdom, more shouts echo through the room. Hands fly to foreheads as they chide themselves for their blindness, pencils urgently scratch on paper to create physical evidence of the newfound knowledge.

With the insurmountable obstacle conquered, the students become beams of light, brimming with satisfaction, at peace with the world. The teacher gives them a brief smile, relieved to see that all of her pupils, even the dimmer ones, had become shining stars of comprehension in a galaxy where she was the sun. Not one of these heavenly bodies, minds sunken deep into euphoria, noticed the minuscule, nearly imperceptible, presence of a dark rift in the room.

In a corner, one student sits, head in her hands, mouth drawn in a tight line as she is bombarded with the sounds of her classmates’ celebration. She peers hard at the symbols her teacher had created on the wall, willing herself to tap into the rush of insight that the others were experiencing. She listens intently as the teacher begins to speak again, asking the students to present their knowledge to her using words of their own. But the speck of darkness in their glowing world still does not comprehend. She frantically glances between her books and the teacher’s written lesson, striving to obtain even the most minimal bit of understanding. The teacher does not look at her, does not ask her a question, does not acknowledge she exists.

The session ends. The students stream from the room, chatting vividly about this and that. A few stay behind, to slowly gather their materials, eyes glued to the lesson wall, their minds still churning with relevant thoughts. The dark being weaves carefully through these last remaining beacons of light, heading towards her teacher with her books clutched to her side. She plants herself before her desk, cracking open her book to the day’s lesson. She speaks, shameless yet demure, to her teacher:

“Could you help me with this question?”

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