Author Spends Lifetime Searching for Woman Who Taught Him to Read, and Then She Surprised Him

​– Twitter @JamilJanKochai

Author Jamil Jan Kochai tried for years to reconnect with his second grade teacher—a woman whom he credits with all the success he has had in life.

Why is this? Mrs. Lung stayed after hours in their Sacramento elementary school to teach Kochai one-on-one how to read and write, something she managed in a just year, and which kickstarted Kochai’s path to authorship.

It was something Kochai never forgot, but after moving schools and districts and losing track of her in the process, the more success Kochai’s career as an author bore, the more he felt he had to reconnect with his special second-grade teacher.

After many years, he finally found Mrs. Lung, after a friend brought her to one of Kochai’s book readings.

“This is Susan Lung. She taught me to read and write in a single year when I was 7 years old,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve been looking for Susan, hoping to thank her in person.”

It was more than ten years that Kochai had been looking for his former teacher, ten years where calling school districts, looking names and leads up on Google and social media, and visiting schoolhouses all proved fruitless.

He said he felt like a detective “running into another dead end,” as he explained in a Twitter thread.

“A few years earlier, after 99 Nights in Logar came out, someone reached out to me, out of the blue, on Facebook. It was Mrs. Lung’s husband!” he continued. “Apparently, Allen Lung heard about an article I wrote for LitHub where I mentioned Mrs. Lung. He asked me if I wanted to speak with her that night.”

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They exchanged a phone call, but as it was during COVID-19 lockdowns, they decided not to meet face to face.

That moment finally came when, after years of turmoil and joyful events both in Kochai’s professional and family life, he was doing a book reading/signing event for his new released The Haunting of Hajji Hotak – And Other Stories when “Mrs. Lung’s husband, Allen, rushed up to me, introduced himself, and brought me over to Mrs. Lung, and seven-year-old-me finally got to hug my 2nd grade teacher again.”

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They caught up, he signed her copy with all the words he couldn’t say, but which had been in his head and heart for a decade and more.

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