Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

As I recall it

RUI PINA COELHO Playwright, Portugal

Miss Rose was not an ordinary teacher. Miss Rose was not ordinary in almost anything she did. She was a beautiful red haired old lady who told unbelievable stories about amazing places all around the world, places she had vis- ited throughout the years. She told us about the insects hat lived in Amazonia, the animals that scared people in Africa, the best place to eat fish and chips in London, the best bookshops in Paris, the best art galleries in Berlim, and, as important as everything else, the best way to write a love letter.
On a mild spring day, she had a mysterious phone call asking her to hurry to the secretariat in the middle of a lesson. Everybody got quite excited and curious. What could it be? Before leaving the class, Miss Rose asked us to behave properly and told us that she wouldn’t take long. She would be back in a hurry. Surprisingly – Miss Rose was not an ordinary teacher – she asked me to keep the class quiet and handed me the threatening stick with which she normally punished us hitting us on the but- tocks or on the palms of the hands – when the deed was shameful; but normally she just waved it in a menac- ing manner. Surprisingly, Miss Rose handed me the fearful stick.
As soon as she got out, the most terrible temperament took over me. I started to hit everybody with the stick, yelling that I wanted everybody to be quiet and that all should obey to me. Those were Miss Rose’s instructions. Little Joe Dias tried to say something, but I – splash, hit him in the head. Mary, terribly mad at me, got up and tried to – but splash – I hit her in the shoulder; Greg, Matt and Leonor tried to take the threatening stick away from me – but I used it with mighty power and they all resumed to their seats, one aching from the hand, another from the head and the last one from the hand, head and leg. I was in charge and I was not going to let Miss Rose down – they would all be quiet. And indeed the class was quiet. In a final display of authority, I hit poor little Daisy in the head, so violently, as I recall it, that the mighty stick just broke in two. All of a sudden, no one was quiet anymore, poor little Daisy burst out in tears, Greg and Mark charged at me, Little Joe Dias screamed as loud as he could, Eunice and Mary started to kick me… well, everybody rebelled against me.
When Miss Rose entered the class she saw the broken stick, bloody faces, children screaming and yelling, two broken seats, tables upside down, books, pencils and papers all torn. Surprisingly – Miss Rose was not an ordi- nary teacher – she just said:
I hope you all understand what happened here.
She picked up the broken stick, wrap it up in a red piece of rag and put it in her bag. This is what happened, as I recall it.