Safety in a Scorching Smithy

Author’s Note: Talking about how memoirs should be written in Creative Writing 100 class today led to me remembering a certain teacher and a certain time, which then led me to writing this piece of nonfiction. Oh, and thanks very much for giving feedback on this, White_Shadow!


何度世界が眩んでも陽炎が嗤って奪い去る。
繰り返して何十年。もうとっくに気が付いていたろ。

こんなよくある話なら結末はきっと1つだけ。
繰り返した夏の日の向こう。


Once, there was a time when I was in something that was similar to the Japanese lyrics above, which is the bridge of the song called “Kagerou Daze.” Most of my days during high school were like repeats of a nightmarish and scorching August 14 and 15, where many things seemed like they wanted to kill me. There were times when I found the way out, only to find myself blacking out after getting wrecked by something I didn’t expect. Then, I would find myself waking up to another burning summer day filled with death.

Now, when I reached the point where it was like the bridge to the final chorus part of Jin-sensei’s breakthrough hit, I wanted to get out of the repeating days of being bullied and being pessimistic. With the help of certain caring people, such as my parents and that one doctor who dealt a big blow to my selfish and pessimistic mindset, I was able to do a feat that was similar to throwing myself in front of a speeding truck in order to save a friend who was about to get hit by said vehicle.

I reported a bully to Ma’am Julie.

And a killer truck never killed me after that. No deadly iron poles, no sudden slippery surface on a steep staircase, no traces of the sadistic image of the strict Filipino teacher/High School Department Assistant Principal for Student Affairs. Nothing harmful came to kill me. In fact, the bullying stopped!

Heh, if you were someone who had Ma’am Julie as a teacher, you’ll probably find what I’m about to talk about next very unbelievable. My batchmates and I first saw her as this really serious and really strict teacher who tended to fire harsh comments at any student who didn’t behave properly and any student who didn’t take their studies seriously. The homework that she gave seemed like extreme stunts all the time, and her presence was like a moving police car with gigantic warning lights on top to any misbehaving pupil. Eventually, while I was in my fourth year of high school, I ended up thinking that she was a sadistic teacher.

And then I found out that she was actually very nicer than expected.

So, about how I discovered how nice Ma’am Julie was…from what I remember, it happened during the morning break of a certain day during the fourth quarter of my fourth year of high school. I came out of the classroom after an Electronics class, worried about the really clear act of bullying that a fellow classmate did to me during that class. Back then, I wasn’t actually bullied as much as I thought. I was bullied during high school, yes, but my pessimism had been exaggerating the gravity of the bullying that was being done to me. Now, during that time of my fourth year high schooler life, I understood that if someone else was being bullied and if they don’t want to be helped in reporting the bullies, I shouldn’t be forcing them into reporting the bullies, ’cause it’s freaking disrespectful to make someone do something that’s against their will. I also understood that if a bully was aiming their bullying at me, I should be reporting it to the proper authority.

I knew that a fellow classmate was calling me insulting names. I knew that he attempted to snatch my lunch bag from me. I knew that he was forcing me into giving him a piece of pad paper, and I knew that he angrily asked me to eat pad paper after I didn’t give him a piece of pad paper.

I knew that the bullying had to stop, and I knew that I had to report the problem to Ma’am Julie as soon as possible. So, as the morning break was nearing its end, I stood in front of her office, nervously walking around. I think I heard “Saint John Bosco, Our Loving Father” loudly play through the speakers while I moved my gaze back and forth between the door to the small room and the towering beige building across the road, but I didn’t let being late be an overblown problem to me. Sure, I might miss some valuable lesson time…Sure, some classmates would question me about why I was late…but right next to me was a shining opportunity!

And I took it.

She was in the office, which I knew before I even entered because of the door having a transparent glass window. I don’t remember the exact words of the conversation that we had back then, but I do remember the emotions and actions.

I was nervous as I entered the air-conditioned room.

She let me in with an attitude that was far from the scorching smithy that she was in the classroom.

I told her about the bully, and my voice had moments of haziness again.

She gave me an incident report sheet, and when she asked me to speak more clearly, no insults were fired.

I tried to do my best in writing the report, making sure that my facts were clear and making sure that I didn’t withhold and/or exaggerate any facts.

She took the paper once I was done, and she assured me that the problem will be dealt with.

I left Ma’am Julie’s office and went back to my classroom, feeling relieved and thankful.

Perhaps the memories that I wrote down here might have inconsistencies if it were compared to what really happened, but long story short: There was a bully, I reported him to Ma’am Julie, the bully was dealt with, the bully stopped bullying me (to the point that he was scared of me thinking that his further attempts to socialize with me were acts of bullying), and Ma’am Julie didn’t seem like a sadistic teacher in my eyes anymore. Yeah, she still had the air of a scorching smithy while I finished my high school years, but she didn’t seem as scorching as I imagined back then. Her roughness in dealing with struggling students isn’t something I’d be imitating, honestly, but I eventually understood that she has good intentions behind that tough teaching style. If my past self had the level of calmness and optimism that I have right now, then I may have learned so much more from her Filipino classes.

Anyway, that time…that time when I reported a bully to Ma’am Julie…It gave me hope, and I don’t think I’d be as optimistic as I am today if I never experienced that. From a “Heat-Haze Daze” filled with pessimism, I got out with the help of a “snake with optimistic eyes.” Well, the Snake of Optimistic Eyes isn’t a part of the Heat-Haze Daze construction set, and it probably doesn’t exist in the Kagerou Project, but you can only get out of the freaking Daze by having a snake with an eye power. And that “snake…” that “snake” which was filled with the all the love and care that my parents, teachers, and all those precious people who helped me out…it helped me get out of the “Heat-Haze Daze” that I was stuck in for several years.

You’re a part of that “snake with optimistic eyes,” Ma’am Julie, and I thank you very much for helping in making my life better.

Now, I’d like to be a part of a “Snake of Optimistic Eyes” that would reach out to anyone stuck in a “Heat-Haze Daze” as well.


文句ありげな陽炎に「ざまぁみろよ」って笑ったら

実によく在る夏の日のこと。
そんな何かがここで終わった。

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