The Unsung Heroes

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    As a teacher who teaches on a remote island, Teacher Elma has to fight against the obstacles and limitations. Taking a boat for two hours to her school is just a part of the challenges she is facing. However, what if jeopardy awaits for her at the end of the tunnel of her life when one of her students is trapped into a fight and she is the one who pays the price?

Beads of sweat glistened on the face of a dark-veiled woman standing at the pier near the river, waiting for the speedboat that would bring her to the village where she taught.  Her palms shielded her eyes dazzled at the morning sunshine while sometimes brushing her sweaty forehead with a handkerchief. 

A slight nervousness and panic of being late crossed her gaze for no boat came at this hour. Her eyes once in a while peeked at the wristwatch, the only precious thing she owned.

It took an hour to get to the school which she could only reach by boat; she was one among a few teachers who devoted their life to teaching in a remote island where its inhabitants even still had no access to electricity.

After about an hour of her wait, a boat was seen drifting toward her direction. A small smile of relief spread on her pale lips; despite her little lateness, her heart thumped with excitement to be able to meet her lovely students today, a kind of feeling only those with this profession could describe.

“I am sorry, Teacher Elma, we are late.” While throwing the rope to the riverbank and tethering it on the pole, the skipper greeted her; she was one of the loyal passengers on his boat. His darkened teeth emerged behind his coy grin of remorse. 

“That’s alright, Mr. Arman.” The woman carefully climbed onto the speedboat with the help of the other passenger who had been on board. “Thank you.” She smiled; her head bowed to the middle-aged lady who had just assisted her. 

The journey began, and a blush of happiness always garnished her cheeks along the way. Her eyes sparkled with the hope of holding her students’ hands to welcome a better future. 


Teacher Elma strolled down the narrow grassy path toward the shabby wooden building a hundred meters ahead of her, an institution where the children on the island spent their days studying. Her steps quickened as the time on her wristwatch had ticked at 7.45, meaning that she had been fifteen minutes late.

Despite having no morning classes today, a flash of guilt still reflected through her dark orbs. As she was in a hurry, her feet stumbled over the stone before her, her knees and palms kissed the earth and the bag on her clutch smashed the soil and threw all its contents out. 

“Teacher Elma, are you okay?” Her colleague who happened to see her accident spontaneously ran toward her and helped her get to her feet.

“I am fine; I am just a bit careless.” She chuckled to hide the pain in her knees while her hands were busy dusting her long black skirt covered by dirt and soil. Her coworker briskly collected her belongings and put them into Teacher Elma’s old bag. 

“Teacher…teacher….” two female students scrambled toward them with a scream of horror, their breath puffing out. Panic and worries marked their pale faces as if just spotting a ghoul. “Teacher….” Their words stopped as their mouths gasped for oxygen.

“Calm down…inhale and exhale,” Teacher Elma soothed them with her hands moving up and down, instructing them to take a deep breath. “Now tell us what’s happening.” 

“Ah-ahmad’s… mouth’s bleeding,” the pony-tailed girl’s mouth stuttered in dread;  her gaze then dropped to the ground. The teacher’s eyes widened in shock, listening to her report.

“A-alex hit and kicked him.” The other student, a hijab-clad girl continued. A hint of trepidation colored her tone of trembling voice; she bent her neck to avoid her teachers catching her fear. The first girl nudged her elbow, sending her a sign not to open her mouth or reveal too much about the culprit.

Before they said more, Teacher Elma and her colleague jogged toward their classroom, followed by the female students who murmured their regret for meddling with the students’ fight.   

“We should not have reported it to the teacher, Ella. If Alex finds out, we die,” protested the short-haired girl to her friend in a whisper.

“If we keep silent, Ahmad will die.” 

That girl shut her eyes for a moment, contemplating her friend’s words and praying for their safety at the same time. No one at school dared to confront Alex, the only son of the evil thug on the island, feared by everyone.

Teacher Elma pushed the door open; her dilated pupils caught a pathetic boy with the corner of his mouth bleeding, kneeling before the taller boy whose back facing Elma in the center of the room. Like a coward, the boy’s gaze surrendered to the tiled floor while his lips grimaced, restraining his pain. One of his palms held his jaw; the mumbles of begging his bully’s mercy buzzed out of his mouth. 

“P-please, forgive me,”

“Ahmad….” Teacher Elma with her coworker trailing behind her dashed toward the boy in panic. She slid between those two boys; and in agility, her hands gently pulled Ahmad’s body up to his feet. That boy’s head lowered; his eyes lost their bravery to just look at her. He was indeed trapped inside the deep ocean of his despair and dread.

“Teacher Siti, please help take him to the infirmary and take care of his wounds; I’ll handle the rest.” Teacher Siti nodded her head in agreement.

The school did not provide an infirmary; as a matter of fact, it was only a small empty cramped room used to treat the students who were injured or sick.

Teacher Siti immediately took Ahmad out of the classroom, observed by the students’ frightened gaze. None of them spoke about the fight, never if they wanted to be alive. 

“Alex….” Teacher Elma turned to the tall blond-dyed-haired boy whose lips curled with a disdainful smirk and his eyes shot only flame of resentment. “See me in the office.” Teacher Elma spun on her heel; her body vanished at the door in no time. 

Alex stood still with the fire of wrath and hate in his reddened stares, his hands forming fists. In the next seconds, his teeth gritted while walking out of the room; other students dared not to lift their chin, pretending to read or do something. 


Walking back and forth, Esma was waiting for Alex’s presence in the teacher’s office; she needed to talk to the boy’s heart to heart. He might do that to attract his parents’ attention or to release the stress of bearing violence done by his father; that was what she heard recently from one of the teachers. Speculations echoed in Elma’s head. 

On the other hand, Ahmad’s security also became her concern for those who dialed with Alex would tend to suffer from his terror. She sighed out of agitation, rubbing her face while thinking of what she should do.

Amid her reverie, a teacher approached her. With worries painted on her visage, she ranted and blamed herself for the students’ fight.

“That’s all my fault. If only I didn’t leave the classroom to go to the toilet, that incident wouldn’t happen.” Anxiety mirrored in her teary eyes.

“No…no … .Teacher Nia. It’s not your mistake.” Teacher Elma attempted to calm her and guided that pregnant teacher to the seat. 

“You must know that I often have an urge to take a pee because of my pregnancy.”

“I know. The PE teacher is handling your class now.”

“How is Ahmad? I can’t see blood. I will puke if I force myself to do it. He is fine, isn’t he?” There was apprehension in her tone of voice.  

Teacher Nia was an individual with a kind heart, it was easy for her to show her sympathy to whoever was in agony.

“Teacher Siti is treating his injury. Don’t worry.” Despite the turmoil in her heart, Elma tried to smile to calm her colleague down.

As a small school with three classrooms, this junior high school only had around fifty students with five teachers, four of whom were women, and one school principal who was absent today for his meeting with other headmasters in the town. 

The shouts of a man outside thundered followed by the commotion of something hard hitting the objects, deafening their ears. Both Teacher Elma and Nia jerked up in fright. They shared their glances with their thoughts of discovering what was occurring in front of the teacher’s office. 

“Where is teacher Elma?” A yell of mentioning her name shivers down her spine; fear and curiosity slip into Esma’s mind. 

“Teacher Elma…what should we do?” Teacher Nia closed the distance between her and Elma.

“I’ll see him. You stay here. Don’t go anywhere.” 

Mustering all her courage, Elma stepped out of the room. Her eyes balled out in shock at the view she watched; the only wooden table near the door had been split into two and the flower vase had turned to pieces, spreading and creating a mess on the floor. 

A man’s intimidating and domineering red glare filled with anger fell on her; a sharp machete straightened up firmly in his grip. He was Alex’s father, no one could escape and survive his outrage.

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