Ms. Necessity…My Best Teacher, Ever!
by Apolinario Villalobos
Each of us has one teacher in our lifetime that stands out. While others consider their Math teacher as the best, some consider their English teacher as one. Mine, is Ms. Necessity…my best teacher…ever!
Born without the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth since childhood, struggle has become synonymous with my life…but Ms. Necessity was always just a few feet ahead of me to show the way. For my thirst for knowledge at an early age, Ms. Necessity made me collect old newspapers that lined the inside of boxes of dried fishes that my parents sold in the market. For doing so, I earned not only bouts of pinches from my elder sister but ear- twitching, as well, because the bundles of papers that I brought home made them pinch their nose. I had to keep them under a bed and would bring them out when I was alone to admire the big letters that I would copy on our dusty yard. Every space of our yard would be filled with words copied from newspapers that smelled of dried fish…and so was I, too, at the end of the day.
When I finally entered a school room as a “visitor” (equivalent of the prep today), Ms. Necessity told me to use discarded plastic bags found in a dump beside a bakery near our home for my “school bag”, so I went there and gathered as many sturdy bags as I could find. I got me plenty of “school bags”, some of which I kept as spare. Our parents could not afford to buy us real school bags which during the time were considered as novelties that only the rich in our town could afford. Ms. Necessity also told me to make my own raincoat out of the discarded plastic bags. Not only was I able to make one for me, but also another one for an elder brother.
For school allowance, Ms. Necessity told me to sell ripe fruits of our star apple in the market on Saturdays and Sundays. Ms. Necessity also told me to ask our neighbor for their fallen ripe tamarind fruits so that I could sell them in school. Due to the abundance of bulgur wheat and oatmeal doled out by American missionaries in our school that I and my brothers brought home, Ms. Necessity told us to persevere on them for breakfast and lunch rather than go to school with empty stomach. Some months, the school was also given yellow corn meal that the Home Economics teacher cooked and given to the children during recess period. Ms. Necessity told me to fashion a cup out of pad paper to hold the gruel cooked into thick and sticky consistency that I slurped down without the use of spoon as I had none. The rest of the pupils brought cup or saucer and spoon. Those were my colorful elementary days, with Ms. Necessity beside me.
Later in life, after overcoming the pains of loss of loved ones and consistent wants, Ms. Necessity told me to persist and just go ahead in following my dreams which I did. She made me accept things as they were without any regret or complaint. Ms. Necessity told me that despite the vastness of life, it was brimming with opportunities for those who were not finicky and could be grabbed by dint of hard work. Many times did she remind me about it…that I proved to be just true.
What is nice about Ms. Necessity is that she never leaves me until now. I thank God, for giving me such a great teacher as Ms. Necessity!