The Paintbrushes

Paint-8The mystery I may never solve and I may never forget it…

Second Grade, China

It was just an ordinary afternoon, I have just eaten lunch. There were only a few other students who ate at school but if I had a choice between eating at home and eating at school, I’d eat at home. School food is expensive and gross. After lunch, we usually have more than an hour before classes start again which gave us some time to clean the classrooms. You know, wipe the blackboards and all the tables and desks, tidy everything for when the teacher comes back from lunch.

I am not sure why we didn’t clean that day. About four other students and I were just sitting around at our desks and I was beginning to doze off when one of the teachers on duty came into the classroom.  “Hey, you cannot be in here without a teacher.  Come to my classroom now.”

I wish the desk was this nice

The new classroom was at the other end of the school and was slightly darker than the one I came from.  I took my seat at a desk and put my head down and quickly fell asleep. Beneath the desk I fell asleep on was a drawer. I did not know what was inside the desk drawer nor did I bothered to look.  More than an hour later, the teacher woke me up and informed me that lunch was over and that I have to go to class.  So I groggily made my way back to the classroom, rubbing my eyes and dreading my afternoon classes.

After school was out at 4, my teacher invited me into a large office where all teachers gathered and have their own desks (no, it’s not the teacher’s lounge).  I have no idea what was going on or what I’ve done.  My heart pounded as my teacher sat down behind her desk and crossed her arm.  “Did you steal some paintbrushes from a student’s desk?”

“Huh? No.”

Have I just been wrongly accused? I wondered. My teacher crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. “Well, then, where are they?”

I blinked. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The classroom you went to after lunch, the teacher has reported missing paintbrushes.”

“I-I didn’t take it, I swear.” I stammered. Like most people at the time, they didn’t believe me because I was a child but still, she let me off.

That night, my aunt was oblivious of what happened to me that afternoon. I kept it to myself because my teacher let me off, didn’t she? Besides, I didn’t want her to get angry at me. She had already gotten angry with me too many times for what reasons, I don’t know, but I’ve had it. I don’t like to make people angry.

It was a few days later that she brought it up at dinner. Apparently, my teacher called her and told her what “I’ve done”. That night, everyone asked me what I’ve done with the paintbrushes and why did I had to steal such stupid things.

I was like I didn’t steal anything. I was asleep the whole time, I didn’t even touch any paintbrushes and it turned out the school had demanded I pay for them (50 Chinese yuan), which is a crazy amount of money in the late 90’s.

“I didn’t do it.” I told them repeatedly.

Still though, I had to throw my hands up and surrender to the crime I did not commit. All these years later, I wonder, what kind of idiot would frame an innocent for the theft of a couple of worthless paintbrushes?

The lesson here: never sit at someone else’s desk and fall asleep. If there’s absolutely no choice, check to make sure the drawer’s empty or memorize all the inventory inside the drawer.

10 thoughts on “The Paintbrushes

  1. Not all teachers are meant to teach. Its a shame that someone that has the authority over our young would accuse without having the facts or evidence. The teacher that woke you up and told you go to class was the same teacher that accused of you stealing?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is unfortunate, its a shame they could not get that other teacher in the room that told you to get back to class.

        Liked by 1 person

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