‘Did ya know’ asked Tham, ‘happy means lots of sex?’
Jenny drew in a deep breath and silently counted to ten. Only then could she respond to this enthusiastic refugee in the serious manner befitting of a teacher of English. Sometimes the weight of responsibility overwhelmed her as she tried to guide their paths into employment, helping these incredible folk to achieve the skills needed for living in a world so different to where they had come from. Tham’s question, however, sounded way above her pay grade.
‘How do you make that out?’ she asked, playing for time.
‘Worked it out, how you said.’
‘I don’t remember suggesting you look up the meaning of happy’ Jenny protested lightly.
‘You said look up word, find synonyms – such hard word, synonyms- find words mean same.’
‘Yes, you’re right, I did’ said Jenny. ‘But are you sure it said lots of sex?’
‘Not straight way’ Tham read from his notebook. ‘I put in happy. Lots words for happy. Content, jolly, smiling, lucky. I like, hard to say, au – spic-ious, like bad word suspicious but good. Then looked up au-spic-ious, means bene-fi-cial, like benefit but better. Bene-fi-cial says useful. I useful, happy.’
‘I AM useful’ corrected Jenny.
‘Yeah, You are’ agreed Tham. ‘Useful synonym is fruitful. Fruitful mean fertile. Fertile prolific. Prolific good word. It uses all mouth. Pro-li-fic. Know what pro-li-fic means?’ Tham asked triumphantly. A giggle warbled from his cheeky grin, and he was quite unable to stand still. Not waiting for Jenny’s response, the answer burst out of him ‘Lots of sex! So, happy mean lot of sex, eh, just like you said.’
Jenny took out her hanky, wiped her eyes, and wondered, yet again, if she should have taken up something easier, like physics.