Letter to teacher Winterling
Where I grew up was right in the middle of Burgundy.
I didn't have the right to dream too much because my future was already well mapped out and decided in Corgoloin. I had to do my father's bookkeeping. He had bought a large and beautiful piece of land belonging to his parents before. And me, I was going to have to help him by being very obedient and by working very well and respectfully.
Because my future was already well mapped out in Corgoloin, one day when I was twelve, I was told I had to move to Châlon. Not really a choice because I was now way too disobedient with my teachers. You will have to go and study in the severity of the private sector represented by Catholic nuns, my parents told me.
When the teacher or whoever came through the classroom door arrived, all the students without exception had to get up quickly. Then we had to wait for a wave from the teacher to sit down in stony silence. In fact, a silence "full of fear and hierarchical, Catholic?" But then we will have to repeat this scene every day and every hour of class. But how boring it will be to find yourself having to do all this just to study. No choice and no negotiation possible, I told myself.
As soon as school started, I noticed this teacher, who seemed kindly and quick to take me under his wings, he seemed to have understood. He understood my unbridled disobedience, except with him. When I returned to Mr. Wintherlig's world or class, I left boredom and disobedience outside or at the door for peace and the sake of understanding and learning this beautifully orchestrated and taught course.
When he asked the whole class to read a chapter, for me, it was the entire book, which I was going to have to study, copy and recite. He gave me this instruction discreetly with a classy and cheerful wink. It was a bit taxing and quite demanding. If I dared show a slight annoyance with a little sense of abandonment, he took me back quietly but sternly. Come on, let’s start again.
And then, it was the end of the school year and with tears in my eyes, I had to greet him and thank him for these two wonderful years, where I was sitting and studying as best I could to understand, analyze and recite his teaching.
So as a goodbye gift, he gave me a notebook telling me: it's magical and powerful so don't separate yourself from it, Blacken it with all your epithets and pretty phrases. Above all, always remember to write and take your readers with you. When you finish it, you will meet with me, if I am still of this world. Go ahead.
Twenty years later in the face of the creation of my blog and the next publication of my articles, I have still kept Mr. Wintherlig's notebook.
The notebook has always been with me and the blackened pages of my personal experiences in Austria, Brussels, Canada and the United States. In fact, it was telling of my friends, my loves and my troubles. It recounted my emotions and my difficulties in learning the different languages spoken and sadness and joys, of course. It darkened easily, and seemed to come to the end.
And by chance, I recently met Mélanie Voiret, a former college classmate. For her too, just like me, time had left its mark. She told me Mr. Wintherlig, who is still in Burgundy, asked about me and remembered me well. As I settle in Quebec, I wonder: does he remember his magic notebook and will we meet again?