Archive for dimpy

Touchy-Feely

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was very fond of Zadam, the strange man with an upside-down head and senses reversed. Since he had met him last week, crossing the railway tracks, they had visited the coffee shop and community centre together, and met up in other places too. It was difficult to know where to go with Zadam. Wherever they went, people stared.

It was the first time that most people had seen someone with mouth and eyes reversed on his head. They didn’t even know about his ability to smell what things would become, his ability to see all sides of a situation, and his ability to hear answers rather than questions. He was an odd-bod indeed.

How about visiting the museum together; was that a good idea? Shama’s ex-wife, Dimpy, was director there, but it was a part-time position, only one or two days a week. He could go on a day when she wasn’t working.

After the split he had followed her to Lucerne in the misguided hope of reconciliation. They had never made up, and she wouldn’t let him see their daughter either. He didn’t have money to hire a lawyer right now, so would fight when he could afford to. He didn’t want to think about it; it hurt too much.

They entered the museum grounds, a few small buildings scattered around a courtyard. There wasn’t a “main museum”, but rather a collection of historic cabins filled with antiques. The cabins had been donated to, or purchased by, the museum, dismantled, transported and rebuilt.

When they entered the Roseman Cabin, Shama said to Zadam, “Please don’t touch anything. It is not allowed.”

“No touching, no touching,” said Zadam. “I don’t need to do touching. I can feel what things are like already.”

So this is another one of his qualities, thought Shama. Great! But he kept an eye on Zadam as they wandered around the cabins, looking at hand-tinted photographs, tin chamber pots, bunk-beds, and horsehair-stuffed sofas.

One cabin had been set up as a village classroom, with a large slate board and a dozen small desks. On the board was written: “Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.”

“I know about him,” said Zadam, suddenly excited. He danced the beginning of a jig. His large green coat crumpled and filled like a hot air balloon being prepared for launch. I had better get him out of the museum, thought Shama, before he breaks something, but Zadam was bursting to say something, which would only be possible once he stopped moving. “He was the stupidest man ever!”

“Who?”

“Aristotle! He said we have five senses. He said we have sight, and hearing, and taste, and smell, and touch.” He restarted the jig, and couldn’t speak for a while. “What about balance, and temperature, and posture, and pain, and time? He only knew about half of them! What about the rest? I studied them all in the hospital. I have them all! You have them all! We have them all!”

They continued looking around the cabins. They saw a baby’s crib, a tin bath, a tea urn, and then a rosewood pipe. Zadam began dancing again, and chanting, and crying. “They are all dead!” he said. “The people are dead. The things are dead. We will be dead.”

“Not for a long time,” said Shama.

“But I can feel it already.”

Crazy Heart

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy received a phone call. She answered immediately, saying, “Hello, Lucerne Village Hall, Wedding Registration Dept.”

A man’s unsteady voice said, “Do both partners have to come in?” He was nervous, she could tell.

“Yes, they do.” She listened intently, trying to gauge his voice. Was he nervous because he had learnt what to say and now that he had started the process, his heart was beating fast, and his tongue, erratic? “Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no, no, there isn’t. We’ll both be there. I promise.”

She said, “Excuse me, who am I…?” but there was no one there. He must have rung off. Her job was to confirm that people were engaging in legitimate unions rather than shams. Maybe she was being too scary with callers.

Two days later there was a commotion downstairs. She heard doors banging and someone shouting. It sounded as if a person tripped and fell. Was it those kids causing trouble again? Where was security? She’d better go and check.

A small man stood in the hallway, stiffly, looking lost. His eyes were dead and unmoving. Was he blind? He didn’t have dark glasses or a white stick though.

A large woman with a yellow and blue patterned dress, and a mess of dyed black hair, arose from the ground. It was she that had fallen.

It was clear that the man couldn’t see her; he must be blind… yet there was such a strange impression created by his sightless eyes that Dimpy dare not speak.

It was the look of love, and she stood as its silent witness.

There was also something incredible – supernatural – in the woman’s smile. Despite being sighted, she wasn’t smiling at him; she didn’t seem to see him either; instead her eyes rolled around continuously and her head followed their motion.

“Hello!” the man called out. “Is somebody there? I heard you coming out of your office.”

“Yes, I’m the Registrar of Weddings, Dimpy.”

“Ah, good to meet you at last. We spoke earlier this week. We have a two p.m. appointment with you, but I’m afraid we are one hour early.”

“Oh, yes, please come up. Can you… come up? Do you need help?”

“No thank you, I can make it up. I am very independent; I have been so for many years now. The only real problems have been caused by my beloved Samantha who insists on helping me around. The first time that she forced me to cross the road with her almost caused my death!”

Samantha, smoothing her hair, her eyes still rolling, said, “Yes I have no sense of co-ordination. I am always unbalanced and I am scared of going out. I used to get so angry about it until I saw this amazing man one day” – she looked at her fiancé – “Blind, but so accepting. He was content with his life. My heart beat all around my body, even more than usual, and my movements were uncontrollable. I wanted to help him across the road but I almost helped him somewhere else.” They both began laughing.

“Come on then, love,” he said, offering her his hand. “Let’s go up.”

“It won’t be necessary,” said Dimpy. “I’ve seen all I need to see. You wait here. I will do all the paperwork for you.”

A small man and a large woman; she, afraid of light, and he, not afraid of dark; standing still and always moving; yin and yang; their union was perfect.

Tropical Igloo

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Mixed race couples aren’t strange – we’ll all be mixed race one day – but this one stood out. Dimpy, Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings, looked at them but not too hard. Her job was to make them feel comfortable first and then to grill them, to discover if they were getting married for the right reasons. Everybody wanted to live in Arcadia and there were increasing numbers of sham marriages that were for immigration rather than romantic purposes.

The woman’s ethnicity was hard to define – either Caribbean or African, or maybe South American, though she could be South East Asian. Her skin was brown but also golden. She had big lips and eyes, and a small nose with a diamond stud. Her eyes were electric blue, but that could be contact lenses. When she smiled, her eyes and face shone. She was a ravishing beauty; she could have any man she wanted.

Then why choose this tall white man with a moustache, who looked like a shabby bank manager? He also looked ten years older than her.

Dimpy chatted to them together, as she always did, and then asked the lady to leave the room. Separate interviews yield the best results.

She had once considered becoming a lawyer. Maybe she would have been good at it. It would have been more money and more regular work. Right now she was doing three jobs just to make ends meet.

The man lifted up the back of his pin-striped jacket in a peculiar fashion, sat down and smiled. His moustache seemed like a caterpillar yawning and stretching, and his ears held small caterpillars too. A small forest sprouted from beneath his collars. She asked him how he had met his fiancée.

“Before I tell you that, I would like to update you on some back story.” He had a faded, but polished, British accent. “My grandfather worked for the Foreign Service and lived in many tropical lands, including Jamaica, Ethiopia, Surinam and Indonesia. However my father started a small business and I followed in his footsteps, and I have never had the opportunity to travel much. I only ever dreamed about these places; they were so lush and exotic. Sometimes the dreams were so intense they made me shake; sometimes they made me cry; sometimes…”

Dimpy didn’t like interrupting clients, but if he carried on like this she’d be here all day. She said, “Thank you for the…”

“I’ve only just started,” he said. “Don’t you want to hear the story?”

“I do want to hear it, but I’m afraid that I haven’t got time. I have to ask you many more questions, and then your fiancée, and we have forms to complete.”

“Okay, I will speed it up. I began to dream of women from those places, bright women with dark skin, who were filled with sunshine. So when I met Susan in the city – you’ve seen what she looks like – she blew me away. It was love at first sight. We would like to get married in Lucerne, as Susan has fallen in love with this place.”

Dimpy wondered if he loved her really. Was he fantasising, dreaming, projecting? She completed her questions and then asked him to leave the room, and invited Susan back in.

Susan said, “Sometimes I think this man is crazy. He literally worships me, and calls me his golden goddess. He says that I’m his dream come true, and treats me better than any man I’ve ever known. Did he tell you about his tropical dreams? He tells everyone. I have dreams too, about the Arctic. I’ve always lived in hot places and never seen more than a touch of frost. In the dreams I am with somebody hairy, wearing furs, cutting blocks of snow to build an igloo. Snow whirls around us like a tornado.”

Alex and Sandra's Teatime

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“Alex and Sandra?” said Dimpy, trying not to show surprise. Sandra was a tall, red-haired girl, big-boobed and round-faced, with light freckles. Alex was also tall, blonde-haired, with smaller boobs, and a slimmer face and body. Alex was Alexandra. For the first time since she’d started this job, Dimpy was interviewing two women.

Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings was all for same-sex marriage. Why shouldn’t two people who loved each other be able to join together and create a stable home? God knows that her different-sex marriage had failed.

It wasn’t about gender, it was about adoration. It was simple really – if you adored each other, then things worked out.

Dimpy had admired her husband, liked him, maybe loved him, but had not adored him. When problems started, that was it.

She chatted to Alex and Sandra together, and then sent Sandra out. It was time to grill them one by one, to see if their union was genuine and not some kind of sham.

“When did you meet?” asked Dimpy, fixing her with a stare.

“Online. It was Arcadian Personals.” So she was looking nationally, not just locally. That showed determination.

“Please tell me about your first date.”

“We met for teatime,” said Alex, a little awkwardly. Dimpy hadn’t noticed her green eyes before, how they were flecked with gold. “Lunch is always a rush, you have to get from work to the restaurant, and then back to work. I find that dinner can either be too formal, or a drunken wasted night. There’s always sexual tension, wondering if you should make a move, and if so, how, and when, and whether you’ll regret it.”

She must have had some fun dates, thought Dimpy. Lucky girl.

“At teatime you can just be yourself. There’s no rush, you sit and wait patiently for flavours to infuse. You are participating in a ritual going back thousands of years. It’s different with different cultures of course. English like milk and sugar, Indians use pepper and cardamom, Chinese let the tealeaves unfurl, Japanese admire the cup and teahouse and recite poetry, Russians top up the samovar and sing.”

Dimpy couldn’t help nodding along. She loved teatime too, and hadn’t realized there were so many variations.

Alex continued, the colours of her eyes seeming to swirl and fuse. “So we met up at the Lucerne Valley Hotel for tea. Sandra ordered a Lapsang Souchong that smelled so heady I almost fainted, and I had a Bengali Chai with chilli and ginger. It was delicious.” She looked at Dimpy and said, “Things got hotter after that.”

“What about your second date?” said Dimpy. “Did you manage to have a nice lunch or dinner?”

“It was another teatime.” She beamed at Dimpy. “But this time I was making her morning cuppa.”

Asset Stripper

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by javedbabar

The young blonde woman pushed the man in his wheelchair. He was old, fat and bald, and it would be fair to say he was unattractive. That was not Dimpy’s judgment on his character, merely on his appearance.

As Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings, Dimpy’s concerns were not superficial. She needed to know people’s reasons for getting married, and ensure there was nothing untoward; no force, coercion or deception. She would discover what she needed to know by interviewing them separately. She made small talk with them together, and then asked the woman to wheel out her fiancé.

When she returned, Dimpy gave her a severe look and said, “Please tell me how you met.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the woman said, “I was a stripper at his seventieth birthday party. One of his friends paid me a lot of money to make sure that he enjoyed himself. I did my job and left and…”

Dimpy couldn’t help interrupting. “Is that your profession, a… an exotic dancer?”

The woman looked surprised at being called that, but continued matter of factly. “No, not really. I am unemployed at present. I haven’t had much luck with finding work. This is something I used to do a long time ago, and I needed the money, so…”

Honesty is good, thought Dimpy, but brazen hussy! Marrying a person you stripped for, and did God knows what else too, in front of his friends! Dimpy calmed her thoughts. She was a marital professional. She must continue the process. “How did the relationship develop?”

“He gave me his card that night and asked me to come again the next week.”

“On a date?” said Dimpy, hopefully. Regardless of the need for interrogation, she secretly wanted peoples’ relationships to work, especially those leading to marriage,.

“Yes, sort of,” said the woman.

“For money?”

“No,” the woman looked away. Then she said quietly, “Yes, for money.”

Honesty is good, Dimpy thought again.

“Is that still how your relationship functions?”

“Not anymore,” said the woman. “He gave me this ring” – she showed her a whopping diamond set in white gold – “and asked me to marry him.”

“Do you love him, really?” Dimpy couldn’t believe she’d said that. She could be disciplined for such a boorish question.

“That I do,” said the woman.

“And the fact that he’s in a wheelchair doesn’t bother you? Will he meet your physical needs?” God what am I saying, thought Dimpy.

But it had been the right question. The woman flushed and couldn’t face Dimpy. It showed that her physical needs were being met elsewhere.

No Glasses and a Full Head of Hair

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“Why do you want to get married?” asked Dimpy. She did a quick calculation from the birth date he’d given her; he was eighty-one years old. He looked in great shape for a man of that age – no glasses, a full head of hair, and he walked unaided, quite lightly still. Overall tip-top. She hoped that she would be in a similar condition at his age.

“Well, I’ve been single my whole life,” said Jack. “I thought I’d give it a go.”

Dimpy’s Indian culture taught her to respect elders. She didn’t want to give him a hard time unnecessarily, but Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings had decided that it was her duty to ensure people were getting married for the right reasons. She would grill him like everybody else. It should make no difference that he was a charming old man. Her duty was to witness couple’s consent to marry. But more important was her consent. Without it they wouldn’t be legally wed. No one escaped her validation.

She said, “What makes you think that marriage is for you? Why don’t you just carry on as always?”

Dimpy decided that she would ask the same question of the lady waiting outside, Judy, who was seventy-six. After all these years alone, why now? Wasn’t she set in her ways, inflexible? Wouldn’t she be annoyed at deviations from her decades-old preferred way of doing things?

If Dimpy could talk them out of marriage she would be doing them a favour. She saw it now – the divorce document sitting on her desk in a year’s time when he was eighty-two and she was seventy-seven. How sad.

He seemed at peace with himself. Why change that now?

“I’m getting frail,” said Jack. “I may not be active for too much longer. I have been fortunate in life. I have always enjoyed good health, but I’m starting to fade now…”

Aha! thought Dimpy. So that’s it. He’s not just lonely, he’s also worried that he won’t be able to get around. Rather than a nurse, he wants a wife. If they were Hindu, he would have to walk around the fire seven times, making the seven vows, with the sacred fire, Agni, bearing witness…

He continued. “In a way I’ve been selfish my whole life. I’ve only ever thought about myself. I’ve avoided attachments of every kind – rented rather than bought a house, performed consultancy rather than permanent work, had girlfriends rather than a wife, and nephews and nieces rather than children. Now I find myself alone with many fine memories but no real relationships. While I’m in good health I’d like to make the most of it. It’s my last chance to serve someone else. To make a real difference to someone’s life as…”

Dimpy closed her eyes. It was unprofessional to cry while working. Also, she was then able to imagine Jack in a white tuxedo and top hat, and Judy wearing a white dress and veil.

Young Love

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy thought she was being too soft on couples intending to get married. Her job as Registrar of Weddings was to facilitate their unions, she knew, but she wanted them to be lasting unions. There was no point in getting hitched, and then abandoning each other two miles down the track, like donkeys running in different directions.

She performed this job only one day per week, but she would make that day count. She would add value to people’s relationships in a way that she had not managed to do to her own. But she had learnt her lesson soon enough, and would be sure that prospective brides and grooms learnt theirs too – but in time.

“David and Ashley?” she said to the young couple cuddling and whispering on the sofa. They separated quickly and looked at her fearfully, and then both smiled. How old were they? she wondered. Fifteen? Sixteen? What on earth were they doing here? The girl looked like a sweetheart; the boy seemed a cad.

She called them into her office, introduced herself, and read them the regulatory paragraphs. She told them that national and local laws were applicable, that they should be of the age of majority, residents of the Lucerne Valley, be of sound mind, and entering into this marital union of their own accord.

They both said they were eighteen and very much wanting to get married, but after that things began to go wrong. He didn’t know her middle name was Joanne. She couldn’t name his place of birth as Golden. He didn’t know the name of her sister Megan. She wasn’t aware that he had visited Peru with his uncle and trekked the Inca Trail.

She was grilling them harder than usual, for sure. Maybe people didn’t know as much about each other as they should. Maybe they should talk less and listen more. But some of these were basic things. If they didn’t listen to each other now, what hope was there for the future? Dimpy sent David out so she could interview his fiancée further, alone. She asked Ashley how they met.

“My family moved to Lucerne when I was sixteen years old and I enrolled at the High School. I was with a group of friends in the… Oh, sorry, it was two years ago. He saw me and walked straight towards me. I was so amazed. Such a handsome guy, I knew he was popular, all the other girls liked him too, but he liked me. He said that he knew immediately. I knew too. Knew what? Oh, that he was the one for me.”

After twenty more minutes of gush, Dimpy sent her out and called in David. He related the same story but less convincingly. When Dimpy pushed him, he said, “Look, Miss Kalash. I can see that you’re suspicious of me. I know why. So I’ll be honest with you. There was a group of girls there. I’d slept with them all. Then a new girl came and I thought I’d try my luck with her. She liked me a lot but not enough to let me – you know – get to know her better. She said that she liked herself more. I couldn’t believe it. No girl had ever said that to me before. She made me rethink everything. I realized that’s what I wanted; someone who liked herself more than she liked me; who was strong that way, not needy and…”

Honesty is a good quality, thought Dimpy. He has passed.

One Year Hitch

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy (Dimples) had three jobs now. She was Lucerne Valley Museum’s Director two days a week, taught Spatial Studies another two days per week, and was Registrar of Weddings on the remaining working day. She often thought that she worked too hard. Three different jobs meant three different offices, three kinds of skills, and three sets of colleagues every week. It was a lot to juggle. But she also found that it kept things fresh. Her life was always interesting.

She had come to Lucerne to take up the Museum job. When funding was cut, she began teaching at the college too. She thought that over time the latter would become full time, but when that was capped at two days per week she looked for other opportunities. A part time Registrar was required by the village; there was on average only one marriage and one divorce per week. The village took her on upon the condition that she attained the qualifications required within one month, and she did so.

She had been practising for a year now with no complaints, but she did often wonder what she was doing. Her own marriage had failed, leaving her with a child to raise alone, hence the three jobs.

What valuable insights did she have into marriage? That it was often entered into foolishly? That money was always an issue? That little niggles became huge arguments? That words always hurt?

In truth she had no guidance for others, but maybe she could learn something from them. Then next time – and she hoped that there would be one; she believed there would be; she affirmed it daily – things would work out better. But what if you had found the wrong person? If you weren’t right for each other could you ever make it work?

That was not her job to establish though. It was theirs. She was just interviewing people, engaging in a formality. They completed the forms and sealed the deal. Their love was – had to be – enough.

Dimpy realized though that this had been her failing with Shama. He wasn’t a bad person; he had brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues who adored him. Even she had adored him initially, but they just weren’t compatible. Her steady approach to things, which he called her “methodical madness”, and his seat-of-the-pants style, which even the devil wouldn’t care for. They disagreed on everything – holidays, cooking, cleaning, not to mention spending, and when – to be honest, with him it was if – to have babies.

Dimpy realized that her duty as a Registrar of Weddings was greater than she imagined. She should make people fight to get married. If they didn’t do that now, they would surely be fighting later. She decided that from now on she would give everybody a good grilling, like the one she had given her husband once too often. But if she hadn’t, maybe they would still be together – both unhappy forever.

Breeding and Feeding

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy (Dimples) asked Jamali if he’d done homework. He said, “Yes, Miss Kashi, I have done it.” The whole class was amazed. It was the first time ever in Spatial Studies class that a student had done homework. What was going on?

The course had no fixed subject matter, just a desire to fill the gaps in thoughts. It was less about education, and more about expression and entertainment. Even Dimpy couldn’t recall what task she’d set the class last week.

“Please remind the class of the homework assignment.”

“The assignment was, ‘Write a page about the biggest space in your life’.”

“And that’s what you’ve done?” The surprise in her voice was obvious. “Will you please read it to us?”

Jamali looked down. “What’s the matter?” said Dimpy.

“I thought you would mark it at home,” he said. “I didn’t think people in the class would hear it.”

“But these are your classmates, Jamali. You all learn together. That’s the idea.”

He was a quiet boy, she’d noticed, but other students were really nice to him always; unnaturally so. They began calling out, “Go on Jamali! Read it out!”

“You’re the only one who’s done it!”

“Make us proud!”

He had his eyes closed, and then opened them and nodded. “Okay, I will read it out.” He cleared his throat, opened his eyes and began, “My father is a scientist in Salistan.” Where was that? Dimpy wondered. Was she meant to know? “He is a university professor with PhD’s in both biology and psychology. He says that all knowledge is connected, and it’s not how much you know, it’s how well you fit it together.”

Ah! Thought Dimpy. That’s what I’m doing here with Spatial Studies, trying to fill the gaps between thoughts.

He continued, “We travelled all across the country, seeing and exploring. There were such wide valleys and plains that we spent days crossing them. Such big spaces that I thought they must be inhabited by giants.”

That’s some space, thought Dimpy.

“When the war began in Salistan, my father said it was inevitable. Human warfare is like animal warfare, he said; it is mainly about control of territory for breeding and feeding. It is also affected by psychological maladjustments and complexes. These lead to frustrations and fears, which are exploited by aggressive leaders, who have maladjustments and fears of their own.”

Dimpy thought, boy, he’s good.

“Furthermore, dysfunctional socioeconomic systems lead to the disproportionate influence of special interest groups such as capitalists, the military, and industry. My father believed that humans had developed their outer world substantially but not their inner world adequately. They remained selfish and aggressive, and were unlikely to change. Their long term solution lay not on a shrinking planet. They must disperse through the universe. Go to outer space.”

A student whistled, and others nodded.

Jamali continued, “Being a scientist, my father was not allowed to leave Salistan, but he managed to smuggle me out of the country and I came to Canadia. I promised him that I would always be a good boy and do my homework. So I’ve done it.”

Dimpy said, “Thank you, Jamali. Your father would be very proud of you. When did you last speak with him?”

He looked up at her and said, “I haven’t seen him since I left Salistan. That is my space.”

Last Christmas

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy’s classes were less about education, she realized, and more about expression and entertainment. She’d invented the notion of Spatial Studies, a course designed to fill the gaps between student’s thoughts, without really knowing what it was. As a result, her students didn’t treat their studies seriously and never did their homework. Explaining why they hadn’t done their homework had in fact become a source of pride. It was entirely her fault.

“Steven, did you do homework?” she asked a boy who was looking even more vacant than usual.

He looked at her suddenly and said, “How do you know my name?”

It had taken a few weeks to get everyone’s names, but she knew them now. Why was he acting so surprised? “Because you come to my classes, and we’ve spoken many times.”

He looked angry. “No, I don’t. This is the first time I’ve come to your class.”

“Steven, this is the fifth class. We’re half way through the first term, and…”

Tom interrupted, saying, “Miss Kashi, can I…”

“Not now, Tom. Please wait a minute. I’m not finished yet with Steven.” She didn’t want to drop the conversation; she wanted to understand what he meant. “Don’t you remember your classmates’ excuses about not doing their homework – Tom’s fat cousin, Simone’s repo man, and Asma’s death? Surely you do?”

“No Miss Kashi, I don’t recall anything from before this class, just celebrating Christmas with my family. It was sooo nice. Mom cooked goose stuffed with walnuts and oranges, and dad let us have a sip of red wine; he said that’s what French people do. We played silly games like hide and seek and charades, and read out tongue-twisters, and… ”

Dimpy interrupted, “But it’s September now. That was nine months ago.”

“Was it? It seems like it was only a few days ago. It was soo nice, Miss Kashi. Are you sure this isn’t the first class of the course? Maybe you taught me in a different class last year, and you’re getting mixed up. That’s it! Didn’t you take one math class when Mr. Thompson was way?”

“No I didn’t, Steven. I think you’re…” A note appeared on the desk before her. How it had got there, she couldn’t say. Tom caught her eye and raised his eyebrows; he nodded towards the note. She opened and read it.

It said, “Miss Kashi, please leave Steven alone. His parents split up last week. He can’t handle it. I think he’s gone back to his family’s last happy memory, of Christmas last year, and blocked everything else out.”

Dimpy nodded and refolded the note. There was no point in asking Steven if he’d done Spatial Studies homework. He’d done practice.