The Nanny Witch.

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Thibaud came home from school with many ideas in mind: To do his homework, to finish his drawing, and to continue building the castle in a puzzle. Unfortunately, nothing turned out as he had planned. “Ahhhh!” he said, crossing the threshold of his room.

Zigoulouboumba, the old witch with frizzy hair, a face with withered skin, decayed teeth spaced apart from each other, a nose where two or three birds could roost without crowding, two spiders as earrings, a toad adorning the underside of her neck, and a hat that no mother would want to put on her head, waited patiently near the library.

He was afraid, but he gathered all his courage and took two steps forward.

– “So, young man! You have a well-stocked library!” Claimed the witch while contemplating the contents of the books.

 “Uhhhh,” he whispered not knowing what to say.

– You don’t say anything good about me, do you?

– I beg your pardon?

She held up four books and asked:

– Why do you read these horrors? These lying authors!

– Mom gave me the first. I bought the second from a flea market, and those two, I don’t remember …

– Ah, ah! You don’t know anymore?! This is what every little wizard replies when he wants to get rid of his guilt.

– Were you cleaning my room? However, I always clean it before I go to school! He asked when he saw a broom in a corner.

– No, “little brat”! This is my mode of transportation!

“It’s ugly!” He stammered.

– “Maybe it’s ugly, but it doesn’t pollute the air like you do with your vehicles.” And Bam! She replied, plunging her eyes back into a book.

– Hmmmm !

– “And it allows me to admire all the landscapes. With your cars going at full speed, I wonder what you can see other than trees rushing past!” She added.

Thibaud remained silent for a moment. The witch continued to rummage in the library to see how the illustrators drew her and how the authors interpreted these illustrations. She huffed:

– Poor insolent people. May they continue painting me such portraits, and I will transform them into frogs.

– But what are you doing here? Nobody has invited you !

– You may see me for months. I’m your new nanny.

– How ?

– And we’ll share your room. Look!

She took her magic wand, pointed it above the bed, almost at the ceiling, and mumbled a mysterious incantation: Tchoun-rabica, elatsni el til àl, tchoun rabica! elatsni el til àl, ! And in a blink of the eye, a comfy hammock appeared just above the young boy’s bed.

The child found the witch’s trick amusing. A thousand ideas, some funnier than the others, crossed his mind, and he smiled:

Can you help me do my homework?

There was no time to get his notebooks out of his satchel, and the homework was done without any mistakes. “Wow!” He exclaimed. He asked, “and can you finish the painting for the art lesson? You can take your time! I don’t have to return it until next week.” Before he had finished his sentence, a beautiful painting with a pretty watercolor appeared on his desk. “Wow! Can you complete the puzzle castle I started? Make me a nice drawing for the teacher? Sharpen my pencils? Sort out my felt-tip pens?’’  No sooner said than done, everything was surely accomplished with great thoroughness. There were no more “Wows”, but he was jubilant about the presence of this lady because Bernadette, the other nurse, took herself a little bit for the mistress or even for his mother. “I forgot to ask if you could feed the cat. You know! Her kibble is down the sink!”

“Come with me! We’ll feed everyone!” She offered, pulling him by the elbow.

Thibaud couldn’t believe his eyes: An owl, a toad, a black cat and a crow were standing still. Each in a place in the kitchen, and the most astonishing thing was that his ginger cat didn’t seem to be bothered by these intruders. Thibaud heard a slightly annoying crackle. “What can it be? He walked over to the window, looked… and, to his surprise, a cauldron sat in the middle of the garden. The witch followed him, glanced to make sure the logs had set, looked up, and announced, ‘’the sky promises us a beautiful moon tonight! The ride is mine!” “Are you going to take revenge on the illustrators who draw you as you are? Authors who only write what they see?” “Bad boy! Who planted the idea that I’m mean in your head? Ah, these writers, these storytellers, and these masters and mistresses who do not even check if the contents of the books are true and, in their turn, start the propaganda! The staunch liars! They will not lose anything by waiting!” She promised. Some time later, she looked at the sky and smiled when she saw a beautiful round moon adorning the dark vault. Then suddenly, she turned, her hat swiveled on her head, and suggested: “Would you like to go on a ride with me? Are you interested in doing so?”  “ I have never walked with a witch, let alone at night, on a broom, and without a seat belt!” “You have nothing to be concerned about, young man!” “But mom will say no!” “Who told you I ask for permissions when I decide anything!” “But she will say no! Dad won’t agree either! ” “I put a bit of a carrot in their soup and a squash seed marinated in beetroot juice in their salad. They won’t wake up until we get back. They are already in bed.” “Oh! So, can I not brush my teeth? Can I not take a shower? Can I leave the window open at night? Can I… ” “Naughty! If you don’t wash your teeth, when you grow up, they’ll be like mine. Look!” And she opened her mouth wide. “Oh, this is a real disaster!” He hissed. “And you close your window because you might catch a cold, and here you are with a runny nose and a coughing mouth, and so on… “

Once the animals were fed, she seized Thibaud by the shoulder, put a bottle stopper on his head and chanted: “By virtue of my wand, may the cork be transformed into a helmet.” And the stopper changed into a helmet. Then, she grabbed a sheet of paper and stuck it on his back: “By the magic of my wand that this piece of paper turns into a yellow vest.” And Thibaud found himself with a fluorescent vest.  She glanced at him to check and said: “Come on! Let’s satrt working! You will see what the witch Zigoulouboumba is capable of, and you will tell me if wizards and witches, since the dawn of time, have ever done what I’m doing for you today.”

In an instant, the boy was put on the broom behind the witch. He was scared and latched onto her back tightly. “Window! Open up!” The window slammed open, and the broom began to melt the city air. Amazed by these lights and this landscape he did not see the same way before, he turned his head to the left then to the right until he heard the witch cry:  “Look at this! Look at this!” Thibaud lowered his head and saw a young man walking his dog and leaving his animal’s poop without picking it up and without caring that a person could step on it. “Oh!” He wondered. “We’ll see if he’ll do it again after what I’m about to do to him.” She grabbed her wand, pointed at the dog’s poop, and it magically found its way into the young man’s hood.  “Ah! Ah! We’ll see how you will take it off now. Too bad, I don’t have time to wait and see the look you’ll make when you realize it’s right behind your neck.” The broom took another boulevard. “But what are these people?” Yelled the witch. “What happens to you?” “Can’t you see that rascal urinating against the wall?”


«I have to teach this disrespectful guy how to behave again!” She pulled out her wand and pointed it at the man’s lower body. The gentleman’s pants fell to the ankles. He tried to pick it up, but his back got locked because of the magic. You could see everything: his buttocks, his legs, and everything, everything… “Come on, Thibaud! Let’s leave him! The municipal policeman will take care of him!”  When she was about to turn right, she noticed a passer-by throwing a cigarette butt on the ground and going away as if nothing had happened: “Here, you too, mug of cake! You will get your cigarette butt in your pocket. This will teach you that the sidewalk is like home. We do not dirty it!” By magic, the cigarette butt, still burning, took its place in the pocket of the young smoker who began to stamp and cry for help as his clothes caught fire.  “Ah! Ah! Ah! I will teach you what civilisation is!” “You had to leave them! One day, they will understand!” Thibaud suggested. “No, you have to let them know that the street is like home. Since you don’t urinate on your bedroom walls or throw cigarette butts on your sofa or on the floor, you shouldn’t do it outside. It’s a matter of dignity. We do this


for ourselves and not to have a good image, a good reputation, or a reward.” She continued on her way. The broom hurt Thibaud a little: “Shall we land a bit? Just to stretch my legs!” The seasoned witch, who felt nothing, spun him in the air like a pancake and put him back in a more comfortable position. Again, the broom flew through the air like an eagle. A few minutes later, the raven saw a teenager spit on the ground, so he warned his mistress who, thanks to her magic, put her spit back on his forehead: ” We spit in a disposable handkerchief and do not spit anywhere else.”  ‘’Yuuuuck!” The young man was lamenting while reaching for a Kleenex in his pocket to wipe it off. The witch screamed in turn: “And think of putting this handkerchief in a trash can; otherwise, you will find it in your panties!” Thibaud, impressed by the magical powers of his nurse, asked her: “Can we take a walk above the teacher’s house?”  “Ah! Ah! You’re eager to see if she does things that she prevents you from doing in class, huh?” “Uhhh, no!” He breathed. ‘’Come on! We are going home! Tomorrow, you have school!’’

Thibaud was happy with the witch’s wise decision because, by dint of flying over the city, he began to have slight dizziness.

A few alleys, the witch lowered her head and saw a young woman take out a trash bag which she put next to the container. She shouted: “You’re so lazy! You can’t even lift your arms a little bit and put it IN and not beside it! Well, little slacker! You’ll find it in your bedroom and even on your bed!” In a magic trick, we no longer saw the bag, Thibaud burst out laughing imagining the face of the irresponsible youngster discovering the contents of the garbage bag spread on her bed.

The night was short. Thibaud had to get up to go to school. Fortunately, the witch had already packed his satchel and put breakfast on the table. His clothes were put on him without him having to do anything about it. And HOP! In a magic trick, he saw himself with a fluorescent vest and a protective helmet. He returned to school, fully prepared! Before reaching the crossroads, the witch’s voice rang out: “Who is this rude person who has not yet removed his container from the street ?! People from the trash pickup service came a while ago. Ah, it’s that gentleman! He thinks it’s the people from the pickup service who should put his empty trash can in the yard!”  Thibaud said: “He wants us to get rid of his trash and bring him his trash can! Why doesn’t he just wait for it to be pulled out, emptied, washed, wiped down and left in his yard?’’ “He wouldn’t be against it, for sure!” “Well, he who laughs last, laughs best. He will be amazed by finding his container on the living room sofa. Ha! Ha! Ha! To us all those who like to be smart! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

At the bend of a road, the crow noticed a little boy, with a satchel on his back, throwing stones at a cat. He informed his mistress who reacted angrily: “Well, ugly boy! All the stones in the neighborhood will find a place in your satchel, and we’ll see if you’re able to carry it to school!’’ They spotted an elderly lady on crutches crossing the road nearby. People paid no attention to her and pushed her around. The angry witch shouted at passers-by: “Do you want me to kick your feet so that you understand how a disabled person is?! So that you finally realize that you have to help people with health problems?!’’ A teenager answered :« All she has to do is to hire someone to take care of her!” «But what is that method of responding?! Take!!” She said, pointing her wand at him. The pedestrian fell to the ground and could not stand up. Cars honked, and drivers expressed impatience in different ways. It took him a while to get up. He continued on his way limping. “You’ll be limping for a week, that way you’ll know what disability is, and it won’t be long before you help those in need. Disrespectful! Go! “

For the first time in his life, Thibaud arrived at school on a broom and not by car, bus or bicycle like all students! The witch landed in the courtyard. Without Thibaud having time to catch his breath. Alexandre, his comrade, approached and began to kick him. “But what are you doing?” “We are having fun!” “No, we don’t have fun hurting each other!’’ The teacher came hurrying up and said hello to the witch who answered :‘’This is a good example! Your teacher is representing civilization.” «But what did she do?” A student asked. “She smiles and says hello to people she meets!” The teacher, surprised to see a nanny witch and a child arriving at school on a broom, invited her to spend some time in her class, the thing that the latter did not refuse.

As soon as the bell rang, some of the students, especially the older ones, rushed into the hall and began to hurry to be the first to settle in. Then the witch intervened: “The older students! Open the door and let the younger students pass first if you don’t want me to turn you into toads!” “Ahhhhhh!” They said and quickly freed the corridor. “Why?” Asked Thibaud, who had become accustomed to his new nanny. “It’s a form of civilization and good manners. We must have gestures that distinguish us from animals. ‘’  Cries were heard. A little student from kindergarten had tripped and fell. Everyone was passing by, and no one bothered to help him up. So, the witch spoke: “What a shame! You’re always waiting for someone to ask you to do a favor! There are times when you have to act without waiting for someone to ask you to. The little student has fallen! Help him get up! It’s simple and nice! The students looked in amazement at the teacher who confirmed: “The witch is right. You have to do small things on a daily basis: To leave your place for others, to wait your turn, not to point your finger at a person, and to help when you can do it without expecting anything in return… ” And a reckless student interrupted her: “It is always children who must show civility! Adults do what they want!’’ “Ah, no!” Assured the teacher while turning round. Among colleagues, we show mutual aid, politeness, collaboration, empathy, respect, listening, and support.’’  The witch, who had taken herself for the assistant of the teacher, added: “Moreover, we do not mow the lawn on Sunday so as not to disturb the neighbors. We do not make noises at night while they are sleeping. We do not hammer the parquet with our feet when we live in a building so as not to disturb the people in the apartment below. On the bus, we give a pregnant woman or a disabled person priority. We open the door to weak people and we let them come first.” The teacher, who seemed excited, with a thin smile, approached her and whispered, “will you lend me your wand for a few days?”

A teacher with a magic wand or a cupboard full of potions! We have never heard of it since school was established, but all teachers should try anyway…

  • Auteure : Rmili Fatiha
  • Illustratrice : Rmili Fatiha
  • Translator: Asma Ajabboun
  • Date de parution : 19/09/2019
  • Theme : Civility
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