Standing before her 2nd grade pupils, Mrs. Segismundo held a yellow cardboard high enough for everyone in the classroom to see. On the cardboard were cutout pictures of men doing different things. One was fishing; the other one was doing farm work. There was a man with a suitcase and another with a police gun. The last two men in the picture were doing something I couldn’t very well recognize. I worried about that. What if Mrs. Segismundo would ask me about it?
Mrs. Segismundo then lowered the cardboard and started talking about what each man was doing in the picture. Of that last two men, she mentioned something about counting money and building houses. ¯\(°_o)/
She also added that these men are usually called the ‘head of the family’ and that they do different kinds of work in order to put food on the table.
“They are your fathers,” said Mrs. Segismundo. “Now each of you is going to tell me about your father’s job; what he is doing to provide for your family.”
Mrs. Segismundo first asked the kids who were seated at the first row. Everyone in the class eagerly listened to what each kid was going to say. I learned that at least three of them had fathers whose job was the same as my Papa’s. Mrs. Segismundo’s face would light up at every answer. The rest of us giggled.
And then it was my turn! Fuzzy thought bubbles with an image of Papa in it appeared from my head and with pride, I blazoned abroad — “MY FATHER IS A FARMER.”
Mrs. Segismundo was quick to clarify herself. “Oh, dear, I was asking about your father.”
“Yes, Mrs. Segismundo. He is a farmer.”
Mrs. Segismundo’s brows furrowed, and for a while, she stood there all silent and motionless. I couldn’t make out her facial expression. She was staring at me as if what I said was beyond anybody’s comprehension. As if my response was something like “Wheoujduyhkg”.
“But, dear—” she said with a real concern in her voice. Her heels made loud clunks as she stepped towards me.
“Your father is not a farmer. Your grandfather is.”
Wait—what? Did Mrs. Segismundo just say “Wheoujduyhkg”?
I heard whispers from around me. Restrained chuckles, too. Mrs. Segismundo glared at them, whoever they were. They hushed up.
She then stared back at me and I thought the very intensity of such gaze would bring tears into my eyes.
She hesitated at first, but went on anyway. “Your father is a sailor. Don’t you know?”
My mouth hung open. The classroom erupted into laughter.