Nancy served pasta with a zero on her mind. Some of it spilled over.
Of late, Edith’s results had been slipping too. A usually good scorer, she now came home with barely passing marks.
Nancy wondered why. The cipher stared at her in response. A big fat zero. Jeering at her. “Your daughter is so dumb – she can’t even add.” She turned the sheet upside down.
She cleared the table and tossed the dishes in the sink. She would attend to these chores later, when her daughter would be playing.
“Mum, can I go out to play.” “Later. Let’s get done with the homework thing first.”
Edith let out a tired sigh. Nancy thought of letting her go. The red ink and the ominous zero steeled her.
“I will bake a cake for you.” “Promise?” “A good man’s promise.” Edith picked up her books.
“Now, look what you have done in haste. 7 – 5 = 2 and not 5. Again, 9 + 8 = 17.”
“NO! You teach me all wrong.”
“You never teach like Miss Hazel ...”
Nancy listened to the tirade. She picked up the answer sheet. 7 – 5 = 2 had been generously crossed out. The X might have put the calligrapher to shame.
She checked the other answers too. Her mind calculated the perfect 25.
So Edith did know how to add and subtract. Miss Hazel did not.
Nancy sought her out the next day and placed the answer sheet on her desk.
Nancy looked at the teacher. The teacher looked at the answer sheet. “Please get her eyesight tested” her teacher tone strangely emotional.
“She got all her digits mixed up.” Miss Hazel looked up this time. “She deserves a perfect 25.”
Rounds to the doctor confirmed what Miss Hazel said.
A 3rd standard girl with spectacles, power -4.00.
It was their new normal. Was it not?
Miss Hazel slipped down in Edith’s ranking. Edith’s grades slipped up.