I have not heard of anything about my Master for weeks now, and this is mainly because I am too busy burning drops of midnight oil since I have entered college, and only through Facebook we both can possibly communicate; but I only use the said social networking site for obtaining announcements and handouts that I needed for school. And this attitude may be very well linked to what she always says that my “laziness” in a selfie society is something I inherited from her, and that my “diligence” is purely concentrated in academic works. Through these days I have been thinking of her and the upcoming World Teachers’ Day, and I imagine myself going upstairs to the stage to give her the “Best Teacher of the Millennium” award because she deserves to be given with such title.
But beyond the numerous and immeasurable recognitions she had received, this woman whom we call as Mastershifu has touched our hearts by teaching us the greatest lessons of life, and having her as our mentor is one of the biggest chances of a lifetime.
In June 2010 my very first day as a sophomore began, and everyone, like what was expected, started introducing themselves with each other and I, as much as possible, tried to hide behind my shells because only in that way I was sure that I may appear invisible in their eyes. I only knew a few of them, and those few, like me, were from heterogeneous sections. I was a taciturn, young fellow then, and what I kept in my mind was to remain as a victor in this intellectual Hunger Games.
In the middle of the disturbing noise I heard a slow, tapping sound of shoes heading to the direction of the room where we were into. As the tapping sound approaches the door, my classmates dropped hints to keep their mouths under their own control by staring at each other. After a while, a soft yet deafening sssssshhhhhh dominated the still air, and everyone grew silent.
A woman appeared by the door and slowly made her way straight to the teacher’s table. She drew out a piece of chalk and wrote something on the board; I quietly yawned and I took the chance to close my eyes when suddenly everyone laughed.
“What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked my seatmate.
She did not answer and continued chuckling. I became very curious that I fought the drowsiness that had run through my veins, but I never understood a thing except for her name.
A month had passed and everyone had already established the adjustment with each other’s presence. The bell rang, which signaled the start of our Biology class, and I was sitting there, in the classroom, because my ultimate goal was to acquire the grade that would surely please my parents. I had always stood up for my conviction that high school was no other than a torture chamber where our teachers clouded our heads by gassing us daily with useless thoughts and that graduation was a more formal term for “scheduled freedom” from the complete list of terrors.
A week after, we submitted to her our first journal entries, and when she returned them to us, I noticed a tiny sheet of paper, stapled at the corner of the first, empty leaf of my journal. But instead of reading the whole thing, I had decided to ask a friend about this.
“What is with this paper?” I abruptly asked her.
“It’s the story of the butterfly,” her instant response.
I did not throw my eyes on that paper for I only knew that it was just the similar, old story of how a mother butterfly lays its eggs, giving Mother Nature the opportunity to take care of them until the day arrives that these eggs will be more parent butterflies.
The following day I was tempted of knowing what the paper really contains, so like a wimpy kid I little by little lifted the cover and flung my sight between the lines.
In most websites, the content and the moral of the said story were indeed the same and clear, and it went like this:
A child found a cocoon of a butterfly, and one day, a small opening appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggles to force its body through the little hole, and he noticed that it had no more progress and it could not go any further. And the child decided to help the butterfly, drew out a pair of scissors and cut off the other edges of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The child continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
But his expectation never happened, and the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around; it was never truly able of flying.
And the story I had trivialized suddenly served as a beacon of light which guided me out of the pit of my dark attitudes, while slowly eradicating my pretexts against the beauties and advantages of learning.
From that day on I appreciated Biology in spite of my inclination in Mathematics; I had exerted all my efforts on the former while I showered all my hatred and frustrations towards the latter. I attended a series of “Science Coaching” and for weeks I submerged my head between the pages of the book due to upcoming Bio competitions.
The third quarter of that school year was marked by the cold atmosphere brought about by the northeast monsoon winds as Christmas season goes nearer. However, my performance too, froze and this was evident when I failed our first long exam in Genetics, in fact, I got the lowest mark in the class. When we were handed over with our answer sheets, a statement in red ink shattered my confidence: Explain to me why you failed. I wanted to explain that I did study the night before the said test, but I knew that that explanation will never show my sincerity. Instead, I had mustered all my remaining courage like what the Green Lantern Hal Jordan did to defeat the Parallax who insists and feeds with one’s fear. In the same period also I got embarrassed when her former students, after their break time, always waved their hands from the backdoor, and I found it disturbing.
“I want them with their heads off,” I whispered to myself, as I was detaching my attention from that day’s topic. It was not until my junior year that I had expressed my guilt towards my wickedness and that I also wanted to experience the same waving-hands scenario. But surely I will not wash my hands like what Pontius Pilate did to show his innocence over Christ’s death.
Both in the classroom and in her home she told us of how one should understand his own personal legends, as depicted by an Andalusian shepherd Santiago from the famous novel,The Alchemist. And when she first asked me what I wanted myself to be someday —
“I want to become a writer or a doctor,” I confusedly muttered.
Day by day it became like this, and Biology is not only anymore the study of life, but also the study of what a contented and meaningful life really is. At the end of the chapters of my sophomore year I landed at the peak of our Bio class and I challenged myself for another friendly competition. And even though my life was circulated with how many f(x)’s I have found a solution or how well I have written articles, grades no more defined my character. Throughout the course of my life I have committed mistakes, but that does not mean I am not a human, and humans are always vulnerable. In fact, no one may coat his personal rusts with colorful paints. Thus, the vulnerability of humans makes them prone to failures.
But despite the inevitable reality that I had been a living sculpture of negativity, she stood up as a Don Quixote to his squire Sancho, and taught him to face his opponent with courage and optimism, no matter how strong it is. And the most wonderful part is that she gave me every reason for me to compete not only with others, but also with my own self.
I will cherish our first day in Bio class and how she opened the topic about love and how she presented an emphasis to love of learning. I understand now, that everyone has their own God-given potentials, and that one’s love and passion for everything he does is responsible for unleashing of those potentials.
Five months ago when I at last graduated, she repeated the same question which she asked me when I was still in second year — what do you want to be someday?
“I want to become someone … someone who inspires a lot,” I replied, without any signs of hesitations. But my original objective was to inform her that I really want to be like her, who became a role model to her colleagues and students.
When I read again the story of the butterfly, I was marveled to know that I was once that egg which only sought of freeing itself from its shell for its selfish needs. I crawled also as a destructive caterpillar and adapted with my new environment. Finally, I came out as a young butterfly after all the hardships and shortcomings I had surpassed within my own cocoon.
I had also learned that one’s impulsive attempts of evading the challenges of life before giving them the opportunity to mold his character is no other than a butterfly which hurriedly urged itself out of its chrysalis or cocoon — it will never be anymore capable of flying.
And lastly I completely changed my personality to that of a beautiful butterfly. A butterfly may have an attractive and vivid pair of wings, but these wings do not entitle it to boast its uniqueness; moreover, its low flight will always remind us to practice humility.
For the past few weeks Mastershifu and I, her dragon warrior, have not seen each other, and in those days I could have notified her at least of what is currently happening in my life. We dreamt also of going to Japan but I knew that it will not be the plane tickets which will take us there, but our faith towards the fulfillment of that dream.
I know that the word which best represents the butterflies’ timely change was metamorphosis. But I am not the fictional character Mariposa who has the power to give that word its meaning, but I guess that our real and only metamorphosis emerges when our hearts truly desire for it to happen.
How about you? Have you written a dedication (poetry, personal essay, or short story) to your beloved teacher(s)?