People make a big fuss regarding having a calling. It is pitched as something giving more direction and purpose to some people's lives than others. Some are lucky enough to discover, embrace and follow their calling early in life. Others stumble upon it as they go or miss it completely.
The fact remains that from my experience, people living their calling, have a profound effect on those around them.
Like Askar*, my Afrikaans teacher in high school. I never would have thought that I would write about her in English.
Knowing her volatile personality, she would not have approved. On the contrary, her near-black eyes would have blazed with unbridled fury as when someone dared defy her.
Quite early in my schooling, I knew that I liked creative writing. Studying journalism followed suit, but I dreaded working for a daily newspaper, restricted to clinical who-what-where-how-when reporting. No, with delusions of grandeur, I saw myself as columnist.
It's not entirely my fault. Askar pored over my writing, her black eyes ever critical of my teenage existentialism expressed. She once almost had a stroke when I added a slightly improper rhyme overheard from my brother's army pals. Truth be known, as a naïve girl from the platteland, I didn't quite catch the hidden meaning of it, which left me, after Askar's explosion, rather embarrassed, but committed to never adding things to my writing which I didn't fully research and comprehend.
Clutching my award on Friday night at the first-ever Group Editors Awards event for the best regular column or blog 2018, having obtained a first-ever awarded "perfect score", my first thought was of Askar. I would have loved to call her up there and then to tell her that her incessant probing was not in vain. I would have liked to have told her that her taking pains, driving me all over the Free State to wherever a creative writing workshop was presented, was worthwhile.
On Saturday, still basking in the afterglow, I was the master of ceremonies at a ladies' tea. Much to my delight, I bump into a retired teacher, the first school news correspondents I met when I started working at the Mossel Bay Advertiser.
Having been a language teacher for decades, she tells me that she has everything but retired.
Keeping busy helping struggling learners to spell and read better, she is considering starting a non-government organisation in order to help learners who, not being able to read properly, cannot learn properly. Because, it is her calling.
Leaving her side after giving her my business card so I can through writing about it, support her cause, my thoughts return to Askar. I wish I could tell her, that because she followed and lived her calling, I can live and pursue mine.
World Teachers' Day has been celebrated on 5 October since 1994. If you missed the opportunity to show appreciation to someone whose calling as a teacher had a profound effect on your life, do so now.
* Mrs Elaine van Aswegen died of colon cancer in February 2016.