7. Misconceptions Irking Us

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Abu Hurairah (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “By Allaah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: the orphans and women.”

–An- Nasaa’i; graded as Hasan

* * *

“When you equate these two equations and cross-multiply them, you’d get the required answer.” Manha’s voice echoed in the mini amphitheatre, immediately setting the students to work. Tens of students were bent over their desks, eyes making careful note of the steps to be written, pens scribbling on their books, the levers and pulleys of their brain being exercised, intent on completing the work that was given to them.

Manha dropped the chalk she held in her hands on the table. Her gaze swept over those in front of her as they worked out their answers. Her stance relaxed. She allowed herself to smile.
Twelfth graders were being taught trigonometric equations for the hour; and in order to lighten the subject, she had tried her best in making it a fun-filled session. They had been taught tips to memorize the formulae and shown ways to check if their answers were right. Manha had even revised with them the concepts they had covered in the earlier sessions, managing to intermittently sprinkle hilarious comments and narrations of her childhood. A balance had been struck and their attention captured so as to not let their minds drift away from the class.

This was one special quality of her teaching methodology: her classes were always very interactive and lively for she made her students contribute as well. She went the extra mile to make sure her classes were never a monologue where she did all the talking and her students did the relaxing work. Instead, they joked around, spoke heartily, and even had confessing sessions. Students were always good and well-behaved until you treated them like equals and didn’t seat yourself on the pedestal. Manha had learnt that little fact quite early in her life and worked on it, managing to inculcate in herself the manner of steering students towards loving difficult subjects—one could even say she had mastered that art.

Having finished her lessons for the day, she walked up the aisle. Passing by students who were bent over their work, she inspected them randomly, correcting them if she found them to be making errors in their calculation. Doubts were cleared, and segments they had not clearly understood were enquired after. It wasn’t long when her sharp eyes caught sight of a burn the size of her palm on one of her student’s hand. She crossed over to the student, caught her hand carefully and inspected the nasty burn.

“What happened, Afrin?” she questioned softly.

“It’s nothing, ma’am. I was just helping my mom out in the kitchen and burnt my hand.”

“Helping your mom is good, but shouldn’t you have been careful, Afrin?”

“Ma’am, I already got an hour’s lecture for free with that burn.” The student pleaded, earning snickers from her class.

“Okay.” Manha smiled despite herself. “I’m letting you go this time since you’ve already had enough dose to last you a few weeks.” She looked around, her gaze bouncing off the teens who were starting to comment amongst themselves. “How many of you know how to cook?” Manha threw the unexpected question at the students as a whole. She was suprised to see only a few hands go up.

“I’m not asking for sophisticated cooking. I’m pretty bad at cooking myself. I always mess up the recipe, more specifically with the amount of salt that has to go into the dish.” She passed them an encouraging smile. “How many of you can prepare simple dishes and save your tummy when no one is home?”

“Tea.” A hand rose up.

“Maggi.”

“Coffee,” someone else chimed in.
Before she knew it, all of them had their hands raised up except for one.

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