Sunday, 19 April 2015

Chapter two (segment four), twenty four years earlier, May, Kyoko

English with their home room teacher was a pleasant change of pace from mathematics the previous class.

While Kondo-sensei hammered down grammatical rules and vocabulary, just like their middle school teacher had done, she still made attempts to make the language come to life. She even tried to have the occasional conversation with the students in 3:1, including Kuri-chan.

That was, as far as Kyoko was concerned, the sign of a great heart. Kondo-sensei might not care all that much for Kuri-chan. After all the teacher's fiancée had shown too open a fascination with the foreign beauty, but when it came to the subject she taught she was adamant. The best students were used mercilessly as examples to the rest of them, and Kuri-chan was, arguably, the best student when it came to English.

If it hadn't been for her grammar, or spelling, or pronunciation.
In short, Kuri-chan was outright awful until she actually spoke the language. Then she shone, sing song pronunciation and all. And she made the rest of them shine with her. Oblivious to the fact that the teacher should be the one who made corrections Kuri-chan switched to her poor Japanese and tried to explain where and how a mistake had occurred during the course of the conversation.

Kondo-sensei just followed along and only interrupted when Kuri-chan's Japanese was insufficient to the task.

So, in short, Kyoko really liked their English lessons.

The English teacher in the left wing was, if what she heard from some of the hangarounds was true, a different matter.

Heard the geek from 6:1 got into a fight with his teacher?” Ryu-kun's voice from a few desks behind her.

Now, that registered. Geek, 6:1 and fight were all words that made her flustered. Especially geek and 6:1. Kuri-chan, why did you interfere? Kyoko made an effort not to turn and look for Noriko-chan's reaction.

But fight? Kyoko looked at the teacher and leaned her head. That way she would have an easier time hearing whatever was said in the middle of the classroom.

Kondo-sensei pretended nothing had been said and continued scribbling synonyms on the blackboard.

Heard he grew up an English snob. Got real angry Queens English wasn't good enough.”

Kondo-sensei turned. She was strange that way. The illicit conversation behind her back had accidentally turned on topic, and she wasn't about to miss that chance.

RP, or BBC English. That's what we call neutral British pronunciation. It differs from what we teach in Japan, which is General American.

You do nothing of the sort,” Kyoko heard from the desk in front of her, in English. Kuri-chan, please keep that mouth of yours shut!

“Please Ageruman-san, enlighten us,” Kondo-sensei said, also in English. The thrown gauntlet hadn't been allowed to stay on the ground for more than a moment.

Kuri-chan blushed.

Now you've done it!

Then she stood up and drew a breath. “With your permission, if I may, miss Kondo.” Her voice was rounded, full of self confidence and rich with experience. “While I would prefer not to sully the dear memory of my esteemed, albeit conservative, teacher...” It was an English Kyoko had never heard before. It carried a global empire on its shoulders as if that was the most natural thing in the world. “… in order to give an example I might lend myself to make an exception.” And it changed into a perfect rendering of what Kyoko had learned as the English of the well educated. “The way fortunes of power may have shifted I also change my English from what was to what is.”

It was well educated, but it wasn't… Kyoko sought for a word. It wasn't elegant. It lacked… pedigree.

Kondo-sensei stood open mouthed. Then she smiled, and then she grinned and looked more like an unruly high school student than the teacher she was. “That was well played, Ageruman-san. Very well played.”

A few seconds later the rest of the class joined the applause their teacher had started.

“Kuri-chan, why don't you speak like that, like, always?”

“Bother!” And Kuri-chan sat down with a thump as ungraceful as she had been ladylike just a few moments earlier.

You're crazy. Kyoko knew the episode would give birth to more rumours. 3:1, where things happened. A monopoly on rumours. But that was no longer true. A piece of hearsay had trickled all the way here from the other wing.

Still, Kuri-chan had just countered that one beautifully. And on that thought class ended. Students and teacher streamed through the door. One of their classmates, Sakurai-san quickly returned with a knowing smile and looked for Kuri-chan.

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