We had a physical education teacher in school. A nice big robust man, who looked like he knew what he was talking about when he said to pitch your body forward when you run. I was very young (and much smaller than I ought to have been), so much of what I know about him is hear-say - from my sister and others. His wife taught us math - a rotund, cross-looking, tiny person. For some reason (my school was always up to some incomprehensible tricks like that), this P.E. teacher led us on a singing mission once. I remember standing in a circle and singing 'Sing everyone sing, all of your troubles will vanish like bubbles, if you sing, everyone sing! Laugh everyone laugh, all of your troubles will ... '
I thought that song was just incredible. I used to get into these strange moods in those days. It was some perceived wrong against me. It feels like it must have been something very silly, thinking back now. I used to sit on the couch and have myself a good cry. My parents learnt soon enough to just leave me alone then. And no, this was not teenage adolescent stuff, it was well before that. One time, I had one of those moods and managed to lift myself out of it by singing that song to myself, as taught to me by the P.E. teacher, who was also in-charge of flag hoisting.
And then one day, hushed silence in school. Apparently, this large man brimming with life, laughter, and energy, had died in the night. Heart Attack! they said. He was drinking of course! they said. What will she do now, the three little children to raise! they said. Emotions surged through us all, some of us, more sensitive than the rest, more foolish than the rest, had ourselves a little cry over the unfairness of it all. 'Laugh everyone laugh, indeed' I thought to myself.
The memory grows a bit dim at this stage. The math teacher I became somewhat close to in later years, though I did trouble her sufficiently, with that typical attitude children have - as if its their birth right to play tricks and make noise in class. I cannot recall her husband's face clearly. What I know in my head is that one day, he was so full of everything, and the next, well, he was just gone. No more. But then he lives on, in my memory, in the memory of so many others whom he touched in his short life. Unlike his immediate family who, I imagine, cannot think of him without pain, we, the rest of the world, can think of him and remember him standing there with a smile on his young face, 'Dance everyone dance, all of your worries will vanish like bubbles, if you dance everyone dance' he sang, twirling his hands....