As I circle the room, observing my students writing,
checking for understanding,
checking for learning,
Jen Le smiles and hands me a hard candy in a wrapper from her oversized purse.
It’s tamarind, she says.
Her tablemate, Harjeet, pipes in, You’ll like it.
Simran, Sukhveer, and Kelani all nod their heads in agreement.
I thank her and slide the candy into my pocket and move on to the next group; Imroz has a question.
Later, the bell rung, alone amid the empty desks,
I feel the candy in my pocket and pull it out.
I study its coppery skin and cannot read, understand, or interpret the name of its manufacturer.
All I can comprehend is “Tamarind Candy”, but that, too, holds no meaning for me.
This is no roll of cherry, orange, lemon or lime,
Nor a red and white swirled peppermint,
Or a “if-there’s-nothing-else-I’ll-eat-it” butterscotch.
This is no barrel-shaped root beer that is the first to be thrown away after Halloween,
Nor a much coveted strawberries and cream that I rest on my tongue as long as I can.
I open its wrapper, inspecting its translucent brown color,
I raise it to my lips, wondering what to expect,
I swirl it in my mouth, releasing blood orange and pomegranate,
Thinking of places where such tastes must be common on the tongue,
Thinking of the knowledge and understanding contained within my students,
And what life that includes tamarind means to them,
And what I am learning from this confection that transports me to another world: their world.
I let it rest on my tongue for as long as I can.