Miss Jorgensen, whom we affectionately called Yogi behind her back was a legend in the whole school. She was a tall, suntanned blonde with clever, blue eyes. She had a brisk, no nonsense air about her. She had so much wiry energy, and it seemed her body could hardly contain it as she moved all over the classroom explaining things, even though she must have been in her early sixties at the time. She had a reputation for being strict as she gave a lot of homework, but everyone wanted to be in her class as she was such a good teacher. She made even boring things interesting, and we hung onto her every word. Her students always did well in the C.P.E.
Yogi had come from Denmark as a young woman with her father and stayed in Kenya ever since then. Her father farmed cashews in Kilifi, a seaside town on the coast north of Mombasa. Although she was pretty and charming, she had never married. She made us work very hard and pushed us to do our best and possibly better in every test. She had taught my cousins, Nasim and Zenobia, and still remembered them.
“Nasim was very clever. They were both such nice girls,” she said in the first week when I went up to her desk to hand in my English essay. So I had high standards to live up to. I didn’t want to be the one dumb Ali she taught.
One morning, we annoyed her by talking amongst ourselves more than usual, so she announced, “I want you all to write a letter of apology to me for talking. And then leave the class and don’t come back until I let you in. You have to stand outside in two straight lines.”
We wrote our obligatory letters while Yogi sat at her desk pointedly ignoring us. Then we went out and lined up in two straight lines under the sun, one for boys and one for girls. We stood outside the building, worried about why she had thrown us all out. Even for Yogi this was drastic action. What if she made us stay out here all day? It was already starting to get hot at eleven a.m., thankfully, she relented after forty minutes, and we filed back in as quietly as mice.
“This letter says, ‘I am apologizing, but I don’t know why we are apologizing because I didn’t do anything wrong,” she read aloud. The note was by Ramogi, a clever African boy.
“You children are too much, what am I supposed to do with you!” she said, but now she was smiling and happy with us again. We were better behaved after that. We hadn’t realized how much our talking was annoying Yogi, and we loved her. We didn’t want to be thrown out of class again either!
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