THE TERRIFYING TRUNCHBULL
Short story by Aniqa Mazhar
I know bullies can be terrible and they make life miserable, but what do you do when it’s your teacher who is the bully?
Little did we know that the sweet-looking lady with the pretty face and innocent eyes would turn into a monstrous, frightening, nightmarish creature. The first impression lingered for only a couple of minutes after her entrance. Then Mrs. Niazi launched her real self from behind the mask of sugary sweetness and smiles. As soon as the course instructor had introduced her and left, her smile melted away into a sneer and the innocence of her eyes was replaced with a devilish malice.
Her voice was rude and rough as she asked each of us for our introductions. Many people received scoffs and sniggers from her as they told about their backgrounds or Inter marks. One boy in particular, who was from an underdeveloped village area, received the loudest chuckle from her upon his English accent. We were all staring at Mrs. Niazi in horror. What sort of a teacher was she?
The Miss Prim and Proper of our class, Ayesha Batool spoke up, “Ma’am, Rauf is from Mangowaal. It’s a village close to Gujrat and he didn’t get the chance to study in an English-medium school. But he is one of the brightest students of our class and scored great marks in the Board exam.”
The look of rage that was forming on Mrs. Niazi’s face compelled Ayesha to stop. Her eyes were ablaze with wrath and lips curled into a vicious snarl.
“Did I ask you to enlighten me with the educational background of your beloved Mr. Rauf??”, she spat out.
Poor Ayesha’s cheeks were bright pink from embarrassment and she slid down in her seat, staring miserably into her lap.
No one dared to speak in her class after that. We understood that she wouldn’t hesitate in insulting us or hauling rude remarks at us that were like slaps smack on the face.
Nobody anticipated her class, and when that dreaded day of the week came, we would all have drooping faces. Mrs. Niazi taught us World History and her lectures were a mess of dates and confusing maps, seasoned with regular demoralizing shut-up calls.
When Sameer Alavi provided his point of view on the Balkan Wars, he was labelled as a show off for flaunting his knowledge.
When Sara Kazi unscrewed her water bottle and took a gulp, she was called an insolent and ill-mannered girl for disturbing the class.
When Maria Musa was caught staring out of the window, she was threatened to be thrown out of it. That’s when the whole lot of us started referring to Mrs. Niazi as the Trunchbull, because she resembled the loathsome character in Roald Dahl’s Matilda so much.
When it came to assessments and their marking, Trunchbull was ruthless. We had to rote-learn the maps by heart, a gazillion of them. Her essay-style assignments required hours of article reading; articles at least a foot long with microscopic font and the ability to make the reader’s mind ache. Her quizzes were always tricky and difficult. The worst part was that she became a Scrooge when giving marks. Achieving half of the total marks was considered a miracle, and if there was even a teeny tiny error, the whole thing had to be written again. She made us write lines after class if she decided to be extra cruel. Things like ‘I am useless and a bad student. I make extremely stupid mistakes like myself. I should be scrubbing floors instead of getting admission here.’ were some of her favorites. And they had to be written a thousand times.
By the time the third week of the term rolled in, we were pretty much devastated by her ways. Little idea did we have that things were about to change.
The change was brought about by the new girl, who we called our hero from then onwards. The new girl was Maheen Raheel, an avid orator and competitor in several debate societies. She was late into the semester because of some fee issues, but was quick to catch up with the rest of the class. The teachers took an immediate liking to her and she made friends pretty easily too. Maheen was chirpy and responsive in class, which made the teachers beam with pride at her. But of course, that wasn’t the case with Mrs. Niazi.
We’d all warned her, but she did not seem to believe us.
“Nonsense! I know teachers can sometimes be disapproving, but they never ridicule students.”, she pointed out.
In that particular lecture, Trunchbull seemed to be in an extra vile mood. She was ready to chew anyone alive and was hunting for chances to attack. She barked at us to take out sheets for a surprise quiz. Cowering, we mechanically obeyed. In this sea of submissiveness, a hand shot up. Everyone gave a tiny gasp of horror to see who had dared to retaliate. It was Maheen.
Mrs. Niazi eyed the girl suspiciously before giving a grunt. “WHAT?”
“Excuse me, ma’am, but I’m new and it’s my first class of World History.”, Maheen spoke in a clear and confident voice.
Trunchbull raised an eyebrow, and if looks could kill, Maheen would be dead on the floor by now.
There was a brief and uncomfortable pause in which Trunchbull surveyed the girl with cold, icy eyes.
“Um, so I don’t have a clue as to what was taught. How can I give the quiz? May I give it later?”
Trunchbull’s eyes were ablaze with fury. Her lips curled into a snarl and her nostrils flared. She’d done it. Maheen had unleashed the deepest demon inside Mrs. Niazi, and now she was going to get it.
“That’s not my problem! You should have asked your fellow scholars and covered up the syllabus! What are you, a baby? How dare you disturb the class with your stupid excuses!!! I will not tolerate such behaviour. Give the test or get the hell out of here!”
Maheen sat horrified, absorbing the unexpected blow. Trunchbull turned back to write on the board with a smug expression on her face. Maheen cleared her throat and stood up from her seat. Trunchbull turned around, ready to pounce again. The whole class edged forward in their seats, sensing that an epic climax to a very dull movie was about to begin.
“With all due respect ma’am, I believe it is your responsibility to solve the problems of students rather than speak harshly like that. I came late and did take all the notes from my friends, but the course of even a few lectures is quite a lot. I request you to please take my test at another time.” Maheen was clear and bold as usual, and she waited for Mrs. Niazi’s reply calmly. Not an ounce of nervousness could be felt in her posture as Trunchbull weighed her down with a glare. For the first time since the beginning of the semester, words failed her. The class was experiencing this scenario for the first time; Trunchbull standing there, her mouth puckered up and a vein twitching in her forehead.
After what seemed like an eternity, she finally threw the words at Maheen in a dangerously low voice. “Fine. Meet me in my office to arrange a time for your test. For now, you can get out.” And with that she turned away from the girl who had outwitted her.
Maheen quietly left the room and the rest of us returned to our tests. From that day onwards, a change was observed in Mrs. Niazi’s behavior. Sure, she was still a bad-tempered teacher who showed no mercy with assignments and grades, but she never insulted anyone again. As for Maheen, he received loathing looks from her, but that didn’t stop her from being our shining star.
Why hadn’t we realized that stopping Trunchbull could be as simple as standing up to her? We never ventured to try and that is where we were all wrong. Bullying at all levels is unacceptable, and most of the times, bullies are actually cowards from the insides. They can subside once they see that their behavior is not acceptable and influential anymore. The rest of our semester was much peaceful and endurable, thanks to the courage of one girl.