An Afternoon With Champ

Lulu: “He hasn’t been moving for the last ten minutes, his eyes closed. I don’t know what he is doing just sitting there. Meditating probably? Is he a Buddhist?”

Ivy: “He does that before he starts anything serious. Don’t worry. He will open his eyes and you can start the session. You have three hours, with two ten minutes break in between.”

Ivy is the owner of the Ivy Learning Center in Edison, New Jersey. And Lulu is one of the employees there. They are talking on the phone. Lulu is at a client’s house, about to start a one-to-one tutoring session. The meditating student was the regional champion of mixed martial arts for 2019, after which everybody calls him Champ. Several years ago, he met Jasmine, the daughter of the biggest exporter of coconut and durian and natural rubber in Tanasia, a Southeast Asian country. After the WWII, the historical coexistence of tribes, languages, religions, and customs were way too messy for the progressive minded people in the more “advanced” cultures, who carved out countries and borders, consolidated ideologies, and created Tanasia during the waning days of the colonial establishment. The new borders caused new upheavals since the traditional access to resources were now blocked by the artificial border. Jasmine’s great grandfather was the most daring of all border smugglers and took the full advantage of the blockade. Although he himself never attended one day of school, he was a determined admirer of education. His two sons and two grandsons were educated in England and the great granddaughter Jasmine is attending graduate school in America. Champ and Jasmine got engaged one year ago. Some say Champ is lucky and some say Champ is cursed, depending on different perspectives. Jasmine’s father is of course against such a liaison, but the 21th century Asian parenthood usually displays its authority in a less conspicuous way. He approves the relationship on the surface, but dictates that Champ gets a degree in America before the marriage. Now almost everybody who is anybody in Tanasia has a degree from North America or Europe somewhere. His requirement doesn’t sound out of line at all. So Champ was packed up and sent overseas to the care of Ivy, who is supposed to get him prepared for schooling.

Lulu:”Ivy, he is not moving. Do you think I should wake him up from his meditation?”

Ivy:”Yes. Please.”

Lulu:”Ivy, he is not responding.”

Ivy:”Call the maid.”

The maid comes in and shakes Champ violently, but he slumps sideways on the sofa.

The maid:”He is drunk again. The study is too much for him. He is not made for this. I don’t think he can handle the TOEFL test at all. He is far from that. I talked to Jasmine’s father about this, but …”

Ivy:”What’s going on?”

Lulu:”He’s drunk. The maid said he is not made for study. Let’s just give him a break.”

Ivy:”Wait a minute. We are paid to help him and I promised Jasmine and her father that we are going to get him to score 80 in his next TOEFL test. Just wake him up and force him to study.”

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