An Unsent Letter

by thesignifier

Dear 学生,

First, I want to apologize: sorry I’m not sorry.

Second, I want to thank you. I learned some Chinese on Friday, and I couldn’t have done it without our little ordeal. Because of your little joke, because of your little side comment, the phrase 胖乎乎老师 is forever sealed in my brain: pànghūhu lǎoshī. Chubby teacher.

Third, I realize that you’re ten and I am all of twenty-one, but nonetheless: you hurt me bad. You got me where I was most vulnerable, and it’s going to take me a while to forgive you. Of course, school policy stipulates that every day is a new day, and I will never let on that I still hold a grudge. But it’s going to take a few days to get over this one.

My better mind tells me that your chiding in Chinese will ultimately make me stronger. I know that I have to learn to let things roll off my back, and the only way to learn is through practicing. I realize that I will never be able to defend myself against every little sideways snigger, and that you don’t get callouses without blisters. Most importantly, I understand that you are only desperately trying to get attention from 女学生. But damn it, 学生, you really got under my skin!

I’m sorry that my response was kind but firm. I regret that you got knocked down pretty hard by my table-turning questions. “学生, why did you say that? 学生, answer me: why would you say that? Do you need to make comments like that during my lesson? No? Are you sorry? Yes? What are you sorry for? OK, can I go back to my lesson now, please?”

“Thank you.”

You know, my heart goes out to you. You were so embarrassed that you were too disoriented to participate in the lesson, and I’m sorry for that. But, I’m also sorry that I have to keep a reputation and maintain respect. I apologize that you had to cross my path, and that I had to quash the cheekiness while it was still in its fetal form.

Let’s hope for a better day tomorrow.

Your pànghūhu lǎoshī,

T. Z

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