Friday, 30 October 2009

A tribute to a caring supervisor.

Life in a boarding school can be painfully lonely. Because of this, little gestures of thoughtfulness by the staff matter greatly to those children forced to live there. Whenever kind-hearted employees buck the trend of being disinterested minders, they make life bearable for the institution's students. From my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, here's an excerpt that relates one man's generosity toward us inmates.
Our supervisor pleased us all with an outing on the evening before Halloween. "We're going to have a bonfire. Everyone come and follow me," he announced at the door to each bedroom. We eagerly grabbed our coats, put our shoes on, and followed him to the brow of the hill overlooking the school.

Mr. Cooper collected branches and bits of scrap lumber to fuel the bonfire. Then he lit it. The flames roared up, warming our faces. Mr. Cooper placed more wood on the fire when it began to burn low. A shower of sparks rose into the twilight sky.

"Wow!" I exclaimed. "I never saw that before."

"Haven't you ever seen that?" our supervisor asked. "Fires do that, you know. Watch this," he said and poked the bonfire with a stick. Another cloud of red hot ashes soared upwards. All the boys who had sight gasped at the spectacle.

"I want to show you boys something real exciting," our supervisor announced. "These are horse chestnuts. When I throw them into the fire, they'll pop." A minute after he tossed a handful into the flames, we gasped in unison at the small explosions. Even those who were totally blind relished that, as well as the loud pops the wood made as it burned.

After a while, Mr. Cooper led us in a few songs. I did not care for that activity but I enjoyed the ghost stories he told afterwards. They suited the darkening gloom and the mood of the evening well. We had not had that much fun around Halloween in years. Mr. Cooper made the night memorable because of his bonfire and his genuine love for us.
Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant examples of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback sells for $25.00 through the PayPal-equipped Inscribe writers group website. It also contains 6 black and white photographs.

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