I recall a few months back, I was riding on my way to work when a motorcycle appeared on my left side with a lanky teenager rider on it. The boy (or maybe the guy because its obvious he's already advanced into puberty) said "good morning sir." "Good morning, " I greeted back and he smiled at me and told me that his mother had just died and that he still could not believe his mother was gone. I was a little taken aback when he told me this because I did not really knew him that well. He was not even in my advisory class.
A lot was going on inside my head then. First, I was trying to recall his name! I knew his face, that's for sure because he's one of my difficult pupils, a teacher does not forget the face of a "pasaway" pupil, but I just couldn't remember him. I have a nasty memory and pupils especially girls used to play tricks on me by lining up in front of me covering their name tags and then asking me to name them none by one, which of course, was not only difficult but almost impossible. Second, I was also trying to figure out what year he graduated. His face is clear but the name, not even fuzzy, it's zero.
He kept on talking though most of his words were drowned out by the booming sound of his motorcycle's open exhaust pipe. I glanced at his face and I could feel his sadness. I said my condolences and told that everything will be ok. I inquired if he's still studying and I was relieved to hear that he was enrolled. I think the conversation lasted a minute or maybe even less, when he said goodbye and sped off.
Anyway, when I arrived in my classroom and sat behind my table, I though about what happened and I also thought about my past teachers. I still remember my teachers from kindergarten to grade six. Most of my high schools teachers, sadly I have forgotten. There's Ms. Calderon, Mrs. Gonzaga, Mrs. Gatchalian, Mrs. Santiago, Mrs. Gozum, Mrs. De Jesus, and Mrs. Pinon, I still remember them.
Thinking about my former pupil, I guess the teacher - pupil relationship is still there. Maybe he thinks that I could still remember him the way he remembers me and judging from the way he spoke to me, maybe he felt he was still talking to his funny and crazy music teacher who likes to joke and made fun of his pupil's surnames. But from my perspective, it's a different thing, I am now speaking with a teenager on his way to adulthood and not a ten year old--a lot has changed.
And this is one of those things that frustrates me, my poor memory. Just yesterday, I was on my way to the bank to withdraw my salary when I heard my name being shouted. I stopped my motorcycle and there's this high school student running towards me with a wide smile on his face. "Sir George!" He shouted. He was one of my last year's pupils and I couldn't even remember his name! He talked as if we were in class the afternoon before. He asked for a ride which I gladly obliged and along the way we met some of his classmates and also my former pupils and I couldn't also remember most of their names.
I have come to realize that I am quite popular. Hundreds of children and many who are already on their way to adulthood knew me because I have taught them. No one pupil graduates from the school without passing through me because I taught the school hymns and other graduation songs, so even if they did not attend my classes, they learn the graduation ceremony songs from me.
So, riding in jeep, walking down a street, riding on my motorcycle, I get greetings, smiles, hellos, and if not greetings, at least I get that "I know you" look from some of people and I just smile back because chances are, they are my former pupils.