Madame K belongs in a French children’s book as angelic teacher and fairy godmother to the children. She speaks slow and articulate French, with an air of romance and gentle pride, that draws you into the language and her classical universe. Behind her rimless glasses her eyes shine wisdom and the mystery of a beautiful bygone era. None of us would question it if she procured from her leather briefcase a fabulous magic wand of ivory and gold.
“A word of advice,” she began to address the room of naive adults. “You must always buy your books from the bookshop.” The words bore the weight of a prophecy. I don’t think I will be able to buy books any other way without feeling guilty for betraying it. “Bookshops need customers. Without you they will not survive.” This was registered as, your choices can kill things. Holy hell. We must listen to her if we wish to remain decent human beings.
“In our cities, it is vital that bookshops be preserved,” she went on. “Going to a bookshop to buy books is self-fulfilling. You go to buy one and the existence of the millions of others will inspire you too.” It’s surprisingly powerful idea that latches onto man’s mission to nourish some part of their life that is empty of meaning. Follow these steps and you will discover the meaning of life. The French class took on a philosophical twist.
She must have been a ballerina at one point. Her physical gestures are like a Mozart symphony (and also this song); not a single note feels out of place, unnecessary or disjointed. The pacing about the room glides flawlessly to the chalk in her hand that twirls words onto the green chalkboard. She is tiny, standing few inches lower than me, and her slenderness makes her seem almost frail. But by her demeanour, linguistic conviction and firm teaching, she is certainly no weak or fragile lady.
I love her look. An array of neat, silver curly waves hover just above her shoulders, framing a small elegant face, the face holding a timeless beauty which tells me she was without a doubt the belle of her hometown. Each week she makes impeccable fashion choices. Last class she wore a golden yellow cardigan, a grey woolly turtleneck, a floral silk neckerchief, a knee-length skirt and a pair of dainty low-heeled, dark purple, suede laced brogues. What a pleasing array of colours and layers. Can I please be your granddaughter?
In her aura and by her teachings I will master the French language.
I just know it.