When I was at school I was a quiet learner. I did not participate in class when my teachers asked questions. I did not laugh when there were jokes. I kept on jotting things down and eating the caps of my pen while my teacher was explaining. I kept myself busy and serious, putting my pen inside my mouth and chewing on it to avoid myself from laughing when my teachers made jokes.

I didn’t have a problem with speaking. I was normal like other children. I did not have any disability, and outside class during break I would laugh, talk and be naughty. A lot of people couldn’t really believe that it was me. My schoolmates used to call me names like, Shorts, tsotsi and lethola. I didn’t mind.

I was the top learner in all of my subjects. I always preferred the front desk because I knew most of the teachers paid attention to learners in the back seats. I knew sometimes they even forgot to ask me questions.

I did not talk, but when it came to writing I expressed myself. I was the best even during group discussions; they trusted me and knew me very well. I was a good writer. I did not share my ideas with talking, I just wrote it down and gave it to them after they read it. They responded by saying it was right.

One day, one of my teachers asked so many questions regarding the lesson the day before. The day before was sports day at school everyone was excited and spoke with enjoyment and celebrations of winning games and forgot about the previous lesson. He beat the whole class with sticks except me. He knew me very well, I did not speak. He asked me to go and write my answers on the chalkboard and I got it right.

It was on Thursday and I made a mistake to write the incorrect answer on the last question. Instead of punishing me like the other learners, he punished me by saying I must read aloud the incorrect answer standing in front of class.

As it was my first time doing that, learners burst with laughter until nobody could stop them. It was fill in the missing words from the sentence with was, was not, am, am not. I am stupid. I filled only am and left not which is wrong. I AM STUPID. I read it rapidly and loud. From that day I was never shy to stand in front of class to do presentation, speak confidently and read loud. My teacher also gave me a literature book to read to the class once a week.

On my birthday I received a book present from my schoolmates as a gift to say thanks for reading books for them. It was wrapped with a nice cover written ‘I AM STUPID’ on it. I was excited when I opened it and we laughed a lot together with my teacher and schoolmates. It was a happy day for me and I enjoyed their jokes for the whole day. Today I read books to children, I teach them and encourage them to read books aloud.


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