Mrs. Aggrey, a veteran secondary school teacher, found her way to the venue of the wedding reception. The bride in issue was a former student who still kept in touch with her ex-teacher. Mrs. Aggrey waddled towards one of the lush canopies where a gaily dressed usher guided her to a seat. It was the first time the elderly lady had seen canopies with chandeliers. Apparently, her once little girl was now grown, not only in age but affluence. Mrs. Aggrey had barely appraised the grand vicinity of the event as she sat down when she heard a rich baritone voice greet her.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Aggrey.”
“Good afternoon,” Mrs. Aggrey croaked, her tired but puzzled eyes scrutinising the blank face of the young man who had just saluted her.
“Joel Sekibo,” the young man said, “I was once your student at Greenville Grammar School here in Port Harcourt.”
“Really?! Oh … oh … I see. How are you, Joel?” Mrs. Aggrey asked sweetly, as her mind began to race back into a tangled memory of thirty-two generations of students she had taught.
Teachers often quickly remembered two categories of students; the geniuses and the truants. After the salutations and introduction, Mrs. Aggrey and Joel embarked on a verbal archaeology of Granville Grammar School. They dug twenty-three years into the period when Joel was a student of the school. As they shared the past, Mrs. Aggrey began to recollect who he was. He belonged to the truant category, but she tactically avoided referring to his past mischiefs as they laughed over different episodes of that era and recounted names of students and teachers; some living and others dead. However, Joel did not reciprocate his teacher’s nice gesture as the conversation progressed.
“Mrs. Aggrey, you were very cruel to me. I cannot forget the day you reported me to the principal … the day you made me kneel down in front of the school assembly … the day …” he suddenly spat, like a dormant volcano that had erupted without any prior warning, his eyebrows twitching ferociously in aggression. Mrs. Aggrey was petrified, but the elderly lady recovered soon enough to ward off the verbal attack.
“Joel, you were an atrocious boy. You smoked Indian hemp and bullied your juniors, and you broke every school rule. I hope you don’t do such things today,” Mrs. Aggrey replied rather very loudly, much to Joel’s embarrassment as other seated guests turned to stare at the odd duo. Joel glared at his former teacher before rising from his seat beside her to find a new place to sit under in another canopy. For the rest of the event, Joel avoided Mrs. Aggrey as if she had tuberculosis.
Mrs. Aggrey was quite upset and discouraged when she finally got home that evening. Was she a wicked teacher as Joel had implied? How could this young man bring up incidents that happened twenty-three years ago? Over the span of her teaching career, she had strained herself to develop engaging lessons that improved the learning style of her students; lessons that impacted positively on their future. She had developed innovative projects with different generations of her students, and she had spent her entire career to equip them. Any time any of her students excelled in life, she was genuinely happy for them as she regarded them a testimony of her dedication to her occupation. Mrs. Aggrey began to sob. It was a most depressing evening for the veteran teacher.
However, succour came for Mrs. Aggrey the following morning in the form of a thank-you note:
“Dearest teacher, thank you for attending my wedding. You have been a mentor and a great teacher in every sense of the word. Please accept this meagre gift from me for you deserve much more. Kindly pick it up from the dealer at your convenience.”
Enclosed was a receipt for the purchase of a decent car bearing Mrs. Aggrey’s name. The veteran teacher began to sob again, but this time, her tears were that of joy.
Like Joel, do you recount offences decades after their commission? Please, the next time you feel like you cannot forgive someone, re-evaluate the sin of the offender. You may just be the one who owes the apology. In life, we need to learn forgiveness for that is the only way we can free ourselves – Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, and 1 John 2:9.