The Chinese Scapegoat

“Do you understand or not, har? Don’t know must say”, Mdm Huang eyed Meng Hua suspiciously, shooting off questions in rapid succession. Meng Hua nodded impassively, instinctive reaction to the spasmodic pricks of shame that hurt his battered pride. He didn’t say it, but her words were painful,for they spared no opportunity to rebuke him openly. Often, Ah Leok and the rest would laugh at him for it, or sometimes mimicked his expression before rolling on the floor guffawing loudly. Meng Hua was always the last in class for the chinese exams, but it wasn’t because he was dumb or a ‘banana’’, as Ah Leok put it. “Yellow on the outside, white on the inside’, he would say. Stupid prick, Meng Hua muttered under his breath, a much hated Mdm Huang waving a chinese dictionary materializing in his head, full of vitriol.

 

Mdm Huang dumped a battered copy of the Analects onto the table, signing heavily. Lee Meng Hua the illiterate, always staring at her with the impassive face, was currently the largest problem weighing on her mind. She didn’t understand. Why couldn’t he pass even a simple test? Did he know what he was doing, impeding the learning process? Did he even understand the language? Her head swarmed with incomprehensible questions, all too vague and ambiguous for her to understand and break down. She sipped her oolong tea slowly, reflecting on the past lessons. She firmly believed that her teaching methods were highly effective, and capable of thoroughly shaping students’ foundations in the language- yes, it wasn’t her fault. Everything to do with Meng Hua. It would ultimately be his own responsibility to reap good results, and she had already done all she could.

 

Meng Hua stared at the miniscule words on the paper. “Kuan…Shu…” He mumbled uneasily, before giving up and watching the pen roll from his fingertips and onto the smooth glossy surface of paper. Meng Hua wondered if he could even comprehend elementary chinese words without faltering in his wobbly pronunciation. Suddenly, he felt angry. “Crazy Huang,” he thought indignantly. It was her fault for speaking in that funny accent, teaching in incredible speeds, neglecting him when he needed her help most and worst of all, chastising him in front of the whole class for his low-grade chinese. She had to understand, Meng Hua spoke loudly and nonchalantly as if delivering his personal tirade, that not everybody could very well understand her teaching methods, let alone deliver the expected results in such a short time frame when one’s chinese wasn’t as good. She had to understand… Meng Hua’s steady voice trailed off into the uncertainty, as he reflected on the past months of lessons. He firmly believed that the teacher had to fulfill necessary duties of helping poor students cope instead of reprimanding them coldly-yes, it wasn’t his fault. Everything to do with Mdm Huang. It was her responsibility to help, and he had already done all he could.

 

Meng Hua scribbled furiously on his paper.

 

“Everything to do with Mdm Huang”, Meng Hua thought.

“Everything to do with Meng Hua”, Mdm Huang thought.

 

-Calista Io(1 Unity 2013)

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