I was checking the class attendance when I noticed that he wasn't in his proper seat, again. As usual, I raised my voice and delivered my usual morning homiletic on classroom demeanor. I was specially hard on him this morning because he was acting weird: he wouldn't keep still, he moved from seat to seat teasing and poking.
I asked the class to stand up and to keep still for a while. After a few seconds of silence, I told them to sit down. I do this when the class becomes unruly because it works, its disorients them a little. I continued with my pre-classes routine. I reminded my pupils of their dues: class picture, tickets, graduation fee etc.
There he was again wriggling and teasing. But I noticed something different about him this time. Even though he was not the cleanest of my pupils and like most of them he does not wear his shoes often, he almost always come to school in a washed and well pressed uniform but this morning his uniform was wrinkled and looked unwashed; he looked unbathed too.
I've had enough, I stood up and was about to pull him from his chair to seat him near my desk to isolate him from the class when his seat mate told me that he had bruises on his arms, back and face. I did not notice it because he was three rows away from me.
I asked him to come to me. I checked his arms, back and face and there it was. He was beaten black and blue. I asked who did this and he told me it was his father. He was beaten with a belt. I asked him why his father did this and he told me it was because he did not keep his bed this morning.
He was in tears. I was trying to comfort him. His classmates were shouting: "sir, that's child abuse". I tried hard not to show my emotion but I had difficulty trying to keep my voice from cracking and my eyes from swelling. What could I do?
After the tearful encounter, he was back again with his antics but this time I understood.
He came back for the afternoon classes with his eyes bloodshot from crying.
This is not the first time this has happened, and this is one of those days that I hate this job.