A Birthday

Nicholas Quirke was amazed to be finding himself celebrating a second Birthday on 22 January 2021. In 2020 he had boarded the Trans-Mongolian express and was without the means of even speaking with his son Harvey. Here he was a year later in China and technology finally gave them an opportunity to communicate if not be with each other. Of course, he had a day at school to get through first and after the trial of his previous day he was determined that he would be calm and unruffled by the antics of the children who seemed to just want to provoke and procrastinate. If they didn’t want to benefit from the experience of having a laowai teacher, which he was reliably informed they had never had, then it didn’t matter to him. They were not going to be taking an exam, it was an additional class to help them, the loss was theirs and as long as he was being paid to ‘childmind’ them then what they took away from the week was their sole responsibility . The problem for him was that there was only one chapter to last 3 hours and they had already seen the end of the film. Filling the time was going to be a challenge and he had a few gambits up his sleeve. Initially with only 3 students in the class as Leon was late again the class started amicably, with humour and even some excitement and it looked as if it would be a positive and enjoyable day. When the tiresome Leon arrived the atmosphere in the classroom changed completely and having discovered the mandarin for ‘Troublesome’; ‘Ma Fan De’ he was able to use his new expression to effect. The boy’s behaviour was extremely disruptive but it solved any concerns over not having enough content to fill the time as completing the reading dragged on and on. He was so tired of repeating his questions over and over till their silly squawking stopped that he decided to write the question on the board and wait for them to answer. The silence seemed to disturb them every time and in particular Hover who once again was his allay against the onslaught. In the afternoon, having said goodbye to the irritation he had some more drama games for them, filmed a birthday greeting to Harvey with them, acted out the entire story and watched the rest of Aladdin. It was a satisfying and for Amanda, Hover and Tony a happy end to the week. Unfortunately though he had an additional class afterwards but as it was Yuda and the twins he knew it would be a better more interesting session. Nine hours of work in one day though was taking its toll and his energy was utterly depleted. As he was was leaving the building he had a message from Harvey and they FaceTimed. The call gave him the boost of adrenalin he needed to get him back home and he walked and talked on the way to the station, showed Harvey what it was like going through, security at the station and on the subway. It was a really enjoyable chat and he felt very proud of his son who at 27 had just embarked on a Masters and was taking life seriously though with his keynote humour still intact. The evening was again all about relaxing and from massage chair to movie was a seamless experience. It was quite some time since he had worked a full week on a 9 – 5 basis and the hours and the stress completely enervated him. Staying awake for ‘Redemption Day’ was a seemingly impossible task and thus the TV went off and so did the lights.

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