Comedy of Terrors

This is a story from the kid’s school. A little truth, and a little drama.

Scary words. Picture by Anu Anniah

It all started with the kid coming over and telling me that she has an English project to do. However, she was uncomfortable with the topic. This was a first because the said kid is always ready to do these projects. She absolutely enjoys them and will stay awake half the night if need be, to complete such projects.

I asked her what the topic was. Note that we are talking about a 14-year-old kid here. The topic was Ethnic Cleansing. (Dictionary meaning: the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.) It is disturbing enough for us adults considering the visions it conjures up. Must have been disturbing for the kid. So I told her that she should talk to the teacher and get the topic changed. I also offered to provide a note to the teacher. She said she’d manage.

The next day, when I walked into her room in the evening, she was deep in conversation with someone over the phone! Before I could launch into a lecture about focusing on studies, not using the phone all the time, yadda, yadda, yadda, she preempted me with a ‘ma, you won’t believe what happened today’.

Somewhat stymied, and having to hastily close my ‘lecture-ready’ mouth, I asked her what happened.

And here is the rest of the story.

The kid went up to the teacher and told her about her discomfort about the topic. Before the teacher could say ‘oh, I see’, all other kids in the class had joined in the chorus to express the same concern. The teacher had to do something now. But since the topic is handed down from the central authority, the teacher had to make a call to the next in line. Turns out there were about 4 levels to be traversed to reverse the topic. The teacher told the kids to keep the faith while she found out the next topic.

Some time elapsed, and the teacher came back and told them something that sounded like the replacement topic. Do remember that this topic must have again traversed 4 levels. Think Chinese Whisper. Apparently she also told them that this was not fully confirmed yet!

When I walked into the kid’s room, she told me the topic was Xenophobia. (Dictionary meaning: dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.) I had a face-palm moment. I told her this was practically from the frying pan to the fire. Why would they give them another equally disturbing topic??

While I was ranting on, the kid asked me if I knew what it means. I told her, of course, I knew. But she was not convinced. Then she told me what it means…

Apparently, one of the over-enthusiastic kids decided to start the research right away, and opened his laptop in the middle of the living room. He typed the word in, and the dear laptop announced the meaning in a loud and clear voice. Whereupon, his mom came over and clobbered him! It took him a while to calm her down and tell her that this was the school project and there must be some mess up. Not sure she believed him. You won’t be sure either if you hear the word.

I think this is a case of Chinese Whisper at its best. I thought the word was Xenophobia. Not sure what was said at level 1 of the 4-level chain.

But what the kids finally heard was Genophobia!! Look it up in private!!

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