Yes meneer, I am not like you!

I ran into one of my old teachers recently.

I ran into one of my old teachers recently.

Meneer is now a very aged man and I forgive him for making my school days miserable.

Here is one man who told me - not once, but over and over again over several years - that I was a no good and nothing would come of me.

In fact, in one memorable instance, when I gave a wrong answer to a question, he shook his head pitifully and said: "You are just like your father."

People do change.

The last time I had seen him, he was the butt of students' jokes due to his appalling dress sense: floral shirts and floral ties, three quarter tight pants revealing multi-coloured socks and ox-blood thick-soled shoes.

He wore the same clothes over and over again until sweat stains appeared on the collar and armpits of his shirts.

In fact, a mate of mine hatched a plan one day in which he would steal one of Meneer's shoes to prove that he would not come to school.

He could not see the plan through because he could not figure out how to get close to those damn Jordan shoes with no one around.

Back to Meneer. He wore his church badge on his lapel and had no mercy for boys who smoked or drank - even when he could not prove it.

He took out his frustrations on us kids, because the other teachers gave him a rough time.

You see, Meneer had brown teeth, a condition believed to be caused by the lack of (or too much) chlorine in the water.

I remember one younger, naughty teacher, asking the other teachers if they had seen his missing chocolates.

"Can I see your teeth?" he asked as his colleagues grinned in collusion with his prank.

"It's you! You ate my chocolates"! he charged at the bemused Meneer, who simply smiled with embarrassment as the staff keeled over themselves with laughter.

Yet, in the classroom Meneer always made it a point to tell me and the other kids: "You will never be like me."

Strange, now, that when I met him recently he told his two companions: "Charles was my best student.

"He got a distinction in everything."

A big lie, sir. I never did, but thanks for the praise anyway.

The devil has taken over my teacher.

He was scruffier than I had ever seen him, and I could swear he still wore those abominable shoes - only now they have turned an ugly shade of pink.

The church badge was gone, and those brown teeth had all fallen off, in their place a brand new set of sparkling dentures which were so out of place with his now wrinkled face.

Worst of all, Meneer was drunk. That made me pity him all the more.

Yes Meneer, you were right: I did not turn out like you.

Love you still.