Music Teacher sticks his head around the door and surveys my classroom, the English Lab. His face looks glum, almost displeased and he shakes his head whilst carefully counting the eight mats on the floor. ‘This is not good,’ he states, ‘Eight mats! Seven would be so much better.’
I am a little perplexed. Music teacher has never before graced my classroom with his presence, let alone interfered with the way I organise it. Eight mats works perfectly well. In the absence of more appropriate classroom equipment, such as the usual tables and chairs – which may still arrive before I finally say my goodbyes to India in December – I can fit six small children or four older children on a mat. In actual fact, it is ideal for classroom management as my gaze scans OVER their heads and any misdemeanours are much harder to conceal from my beady eye!!!
‘What is wrong with eight mats?’ I enquire. I am puzzled and keen to understand his reasoning, expecting some kind of Indian and magical value attached to the number seven. Music Teacher speaks very little English, so the conversation between us on the topic lacks a certain fluency, but I do get the gist.
‘The Bible,’ he intimates, ‘The Bible favours the number seven… so we should use seven, not eight.’ For a moment I think I have misunderstood and things got lost in translation. ‘The Bible????’ I echo. And he merrily continues about the importance of the number seven in the Bible: God created the world in seven days and the seventh day is the Sabbath; the Bible as a whole was originally divided in seven sections…. ‘Really? I am expected to adjust my classroom according to the Bible??’ I am flabbergasted!! Is he for real??
Music Teacher is Christian and a staunch follower of Kerala’s Pentacostal Church, who take the word of the Bible literal and put all their faith into daily reading of the holy book and plenty of prayers to God to buy happiness. And I have once – for pure research purposes, mind you – attended a Pentacostal Church Service in Kerala and have never heard more ‘Alleluias’ and ‘Praise the Lords’ in such a short space of time (well, this is relative as the service went on for about three hours) all for the benefit of God granting wishes, rather than giving thanks. Personally, I have always found that God’s mysterious ways work better when people get off your backside and give Him a helping hand!
Music Teacher’s face looked grave and unsmiling at my reluctance to remove one mat from my room as if he could not grasp my incredulity. But not finding his arguments very convincing, I just shrugged my shoulders and told him I was intending to take my chances with using eight mats, and would happily go to hell over that one…