The year was 1999. I was Grade 3 at Robert Tredgold Primary School. Besides a few naughty things I had done - two that stand out, I was largely an adorable little guy who was clumsy and socially awkward. But something which I am still try to figure out made me and one of my teachers clash so bad that my parents had to take me out of school at the end of that school year.
Robert Tredgold was a pretty cool school as far as I can remember. It was at this school that I actually learned that, well, my dad's policeman salary wasn't much as compared to what I was seeing other kids bring to school, or their constant talk about watching satellite dishes, or swimming pools at their house. It was here that I learned that Bulawayo East existed.
I was just a little guy from Emakhandeni, when I started here, who enjoyed his humble neighbourhood where we would either be watching WWF on the then elite Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV Channel, or we were trying out the moves we saw on TV outside with my little friends, or my uncle Newton. I had to be Tatanka or Bret Hart.
It was this same neighbourhood that I had my first little girlfriend. Her name was Melissa. We would play houses. I was the dad, she was the mum. And her doll was our baby, and my red brick was our car. I enjoyed playing with my "little chick" after school as much as I enjoyed going to school.
But when time for the third grade came, we had a new teacher. I cannot remember if she was a temporary teacher, a student teacher, or she was just a new teacher.
I also cannot remember what it is that triggered our "beef", but your boy and the light-skinned new teacher just never seemed to click.
My grades weren't too shabby. And besides me not having the most neatly dressed kid award in our class, I think I was likable for the most part.
I only remember two bad things that I did at Robert Tredgold.
Now, my memory isn't exactly clear on the timing of these but it must have been either in second or third grade.
Our school shared a durawall with McKeurtan Primary School and we knew somehow that there was a swimming pool on the other side of the wall. We thought it would be an incredibly worthwhile idea to throw some bricks over the wall, into McKeurtan Primary School's swimming pool - with the loud thud of the bricks hitting the water being our smug reward. The details are vague but we did it.
I did it. And all I remember is that because I was the one who did the did, I got into trouble. For a whole week I was mopping floors in the Teacher-in-Charge's classroom - to the mockery of my friends, and other pupils.
The second horrendous thing I ever did at this school was that one day I took a pink piece of chalk, and went to the toilet with it. While there was no one watching, I thought it would be absolutely interior-decor savvy to write my newly learned word: sex.
A grade 6 boy did see me inscribing the sacred word though, and he blackmailed me for a week or so - story for another day.
But besides any other other in-class noise making trouble I might have caused, this was the breadth of my delinquency. And so, something happened in 3rd grade that caused me and the new teacher to not see eye to eye.
From the time she started teaching us, I quickly became uninterested in going to school and that raised alarm bells with my parents.
My parents tell the story this way:
One of the teachers at the school who was my mom's older sister friend had told my mom and her older sister (who is a veteran primary school teacher herself) that our new teacher was incompetent and that she did not do her job well. So, upon her hearing this, she targeted me. Thing got even worse when the two sisters I call "mamas" came to school for Consultation Day and my mom and her older sister confronted her I am sure. Those two combined can be trouble.
By the end of that year, a new place had been found for me at Thomas Rudland Primary School. We had moved to Queens Park East and that worked perfectly in many ways.
I loved that school more than words could say, and my love for writing was developed there under the tutelage of one amazing Mrs. R. Mutepfa.
Since then, I have always longed to see Ms. Moyo and clear the air. It is a very heavy weight on a young boy when a teacher does not like him. I remember her passing snarky comments at me. I remember the feelings of being targeted and isolated very well. The only thing I remember about Ms. Moyo was her light-skinned complexion, and her trademark short weave hairstyle. All else is so vague for me now.
Not being liked is something none of us ever want to experience. We want people to like us. To cherish us. To adore us. And when that affection is withheld, we feel inadequate and unworthy - and this is my earliest experience of such a feeling.
The younger you are when you feel this way, the more impactful this will be on you as you grow up, yet the older you are and you still feel this way, then the more the bitterness and resentment towards those who give you cold shoulders will be. It's a trap!
But here is the good news: we cannot be everybody's cup of tea. Infact, the Scriptures would even take this further to say: "Woe to you if all men speak well of you."
In other words, it is normal human experience to like other people, and not others. And I am using the word "like" here specifically because it means something different from what the word "love" means.
We are called to love both our neighbours and our enemies. But it's not everyone that we love that we actually "like", or that we actually enjoy, as it were. In a similar way, it is highly irrational for us to expect everyone to "enjoy" us. We will click with some people more than we do with others.
Yet in it all, as believers, we ought to seek to live at peace with all men in as much as it depends on us. That is a weight that the Scriptures place on our lives.
One might read my little story about Ms. Moyo and perhaps think it is petty. But the truth is: I have had great teachers in my life that have poured out knowledge and love to me, and I think of them often - yet I simply cannot shake off why this one teacher years and years ago just made me feel so unworthy. That is how impactful hurt and pain can be.
While we can choose what we can do after the fact, we cannot ignore what it does to us.
If you are reading this and you have any feelings of unworthiness towards someone, no matter how significant or non-significant you think it is - know that you are not alone. But even further, open your eyes and see the couple of people who love and care for you all around you. Be thankful for that.
And for those in Christ, look at the cross - and by so doing you see a Man who loved you so much that He gave up his own life, died the death you deserved, to make sure that you had life everlasting. Not only does God delight in us because of Christ, he also is pleased with us because of Him. We are loved, accepted, adopted, freed and delighted in. And this ought to be a spring of joy for us.
When we do not receive affirmation from others, we know we have all we need in our Saviour. This is good news.
Now, if you know Ms. Moyo, tell her I am kindly looking for her.