Theme : Something Unexpected that Happened to You
Using the theme accurately in every composition is important. Many times students get excited about a topic and pictures and then forget the theme that they are supposed to write about. A kind act is mistaken for an honest act, the word surprise is not used once in a composition and it isn’t clear what was unexpected. This is a recurring problem and one that I will address during my June holidays writing and oral workshops.
For the composition above, during the planning stage, I told my students to make it clear to me what they were expecting to happen and what was the unexpected. Each had to tell me their plan and if I felt the theme was not clear enough they had to go back to the drawing board.
Below are two compositions based on that theme. One is from my student in 2017 and the other is from my student this year. (In recent months, I am proud to say that I find good compositions among my 2018 students consistently.) I chose these two compositions because both students have not only used the theme well, they have also taken time to create their settings.
Something Unexpected that Happened to You (2017)
Gulping, Jane looked up at the tall building, feeling very nervous. It was her first day in the new school as she had transferred over for the better facilities in the new one. From a golf course to a high elements station, this school had been her dream, her motivation and she had worked hard enough to earn her place in St Anders School. Knowing about the ‘Legendary Principal’, she wanted to make a good first impression. She expected that the principal would judge her as soon as she laid eyes on her. Adjusting her uniform, she made sure that she looked smart before stepping in.
While walking in, she saw the school’s achievements and prestigious awards displayed at the entrance. Arriving at the school’s Information Counter, the lady behind the desk registered Jane and told her to feel free to walk around and take a look at their facilities. Clutching her backpack, Jane took off, excited to see the school’s famous ‘attractions.’
“So, this is the school hall. Bigger than I had expected,” gasped Jane when she entered the school hall. It was well-decorated with the most expensive high-tech equipment. As Jane stared mesmerised, she heard a scraping noise behind her and was surprised to see an elderly lady, dressed in a simple outfit. She was perched on a ladder struggling to get a clock on the wall.
That must be the school cleaner thought Jane. Without hesitation, she stepped forward to help the lady.
“Do you need help? Why are you fixing the clock all by yourself?” Jane asked. The lady looked at Jane with a bemused expression but said nothing. Maybe she doesn’t understand English. The principal must really be mean if she had asked an elderly lady like this cleaner to put herself in danger on the high ladder! thought Jane. She put down her bag and climbed up the ladder, taking the clock from the cleaner’s hand and placing it on the wall. As they both climbed down, Jane asked the lady, “Aunty, is the principal really mean? She should not have put you in danger like this. Next time, please ask someone for help.”
The elderly lady was about to answer her when another lady entered the school hall. She had a refined air about her as sweet vanilla perfume trailed behind her. She wore a classic suit with a string of Chanel pearls around her neck. Looking at Jane, the lady sauntered up to her.
As I had expected. This is the elegant school principal that everyone has been talking about. Jane thought as she immediately bowed low to the principal. Puzzled, the woman gave a cough and Jane shot back up.
“Are you the new student?” cooed the lady. Jane was too nervous to answer her. She nodded her head furiously. “I’m here to show you around the..” the lady stopped in mid-sentence when she noticed the elderly lady beside Jane. To Jane’s utter surprise the elegant principal bowed to the elderly lady and said, “Good morning principal.”
Jane was dumbfounded. The elderly lady was the principal? It was certainly not what Jane had expected the school principal to look like! Remembering what she had said about the principal to the elderly lady, Jane blushed a deep red and hoped that the ground would swallow her up.
“Sorry to surprise you dear. I am the school principal Mrs Tan,” she said as she shook Jane’s hand. “I..I..I..” Jane stuttered. The woman signalled Jane to stop talking, and thanked her instead.
“You are a very kind young lady and I appreciate your compassion. Remind me to vote for you for the monitor election! Mrs Lim, the school administrator will show you around the school now,” she said as she walked away, waving goodbye to them.
Jane was overjoyed. She would never have expected the school principal would be a simple and humble lady nor did she expect to already make a good impression on the first day of school. She had also learnt a valuable lesson about judging others by their appearance.
Something Unexpected That Happened to You (2018)
“Ring!” It was recess time! Finally! I thought as I ran like lightning towards the canteen. I looked at the forever growing queue at the chicken rice stall and moaned in exasperation. I resigned myself to the fact that I had to queue for eternity to get my food. With reluctance, I stepped into the already snake-like queue. I thought about what I was going to do after my devouring my food. My mind wandered. I could not wait to play tag with my best buddy, James.
“Hello, what would you like?” The vendor’s voice rang clearly. I was startled and my train of thoughts broke. I immediately placed my order, embarrassed.
The moment I received my food, I sped off at once to look for a seat. Luckily, Lady Luck was on my side that day and I found a seat easily. I sat down, famished. I wolfed down my chicken rice and cleared my plate. After that, I sprinted as fast as a cheetah to the basketball court. I was dying to meet James, my bosom buddy.
“Hey! Tim! Over here!” James’ voice reverberated through the air. I quickly went over to him. At once, we started playing tag. Surprisingly, James who had never volunteered to be the catcher before, volunteered immediately.
I nodded my head in agreement and with that he started chasing me. Suddenly, as I was running away from James at breakneck speed, I did not notice the banana peel in front of me. I slipped and fell with a thud. Excruciating pain lanced through my left ankle and I yelped in pain. It was as if white hot needles were stabbing my ankle repeatedly. My ankle was getting more swollen by the second. I grimaced in agony when I tried to stand up. Expecting James to pull me up, I just sat there and waited.
To my dismay, James smirked at me. Then he burst out laughing like a maniac. A crowd started to form around me and James took the opportunity to tell everyone what a clumsy fool I was! I was extremely shocked at his behaviour. How could he laugh at me? This was not what I had expected from a best friend! My heart pounded in pain. It was not the pain from the wound that hurt me. Instead it was the pain from the betrayal of my best friend James. I simply could not believe my eyes.
Then the most unexpected thing happened.The meanest bully actually emerged from the laughing crowd and came over to help me up. A hush fell over the crowd. The last time I fell in front of him, he had laughed his head off. I could not comprehend the scene unfolding in front of m.
“Come on Tim, let’s go to the sickbay to get your wound washed,” the big bully said to me, “I know it really hurts when friends’ betray you. I know. My best friend did the same thing to me once a long time ago.”
With the bully’s support, I managed to reach the sickbay. I understood the bully better and showered him with words of gratitude as the nurse assessed my injury. She concluded that I had sprained my ankle. Then she informed my mother to bring me to the clinic to check on my ankle.
Expect the unexpected. That day was the most unexpected day that I had ever experienced. Not only did the bully help me, my best friend had laughed at me when I needed his help the most. James never apologised for his mean behaviour and we slowly drifted apart. Whereas the bully and I became closer, two people who had been betrayed by their best friends.