In India, we have Class 10 and 12 as major milestones in a student’s lifetime. The exams are majorly conducted over the month of March and results announced by the end of month May. They are referred as ‘Board Exams’
This dates back to when I had my class 10 board result. Topped my school in English language. I had my head crossing through the clouds. Felt as if nobody could be better than me. Well it was close to the truth, but close and not really the truth.
A new English teacher joined in Class 11. In the first class, she wants to access the students’ language capabilities. Oh challenge? I was so ever ready! She dictates ten words and the whole class writes down those words. Ha! ‘Dictation’ test. Are we nursery kids or what?
For checking, she asked to switch answer sheets with our seat partners while she wrote the ‘correct spelling’ of the dictated words on the blackboard. My result 9/10. I answered one word WRONG. I couldn’t believe myself! My world came shattering down from the high clouds. It sounds insignificant, but it meant a lot to that 16 year old. Also, I had let down those classmates who were cheating off my sheet 😦
The English teacher, I refrain from giving out her name, she taught me (us) how differently we could study the language and enjoy the beauty of it. Contrary to the usual professors who paste their versions/ ideas on what the poets or authors meant in their work, she asked for our opinions. We had, almost everyday, discussions in class – plethora of ideas floating across and sometimes clashing too.
I must tell how she appeared characteristically different. Saree – a popular womenswear of Indian subcontinent. It is usually worn over a petticoat, with a fitted upper garment called blouse. She instead, wore full sleeve blouses even in the sweltering heat of North India. Like one in the image below, but only to get an idea of saree and blouses. (Fabrics, silhouettes off topic here).
Something I should mention here, the blouse is kind of a well fitted crop top, which means it supposedly exposes your navel and waist area. The navel should be covered with the front drape. However, for our society which is opposed to skin show, the saree is an exception and acceptable.
But our teacher opted to show none. Her blouses were long and her saree covered all. Something like this.
Teacher – 1 Society – 0
By standards of body shaming, she was towards heavier side. I understood it even then, because it was my validation of her wearing a covered up saree.
Teacher – 1 Society – 1
Other than dressing different, she looked different too. Okay, before you jump at me with Racist comments, let me tell you the country is a little too obsessed with the fair skin. And those who aren’t fair (coloured), have to achieve in life more in order to ‘compensate’. Not my thoughts, but the society.
So, yes she was dusky. But oozed oodles of confidence whatsoever. I guess that worked in her favour immensely. Though, how long do you fight and who all?
Teacher – 1 Society – 2
While teaching one day, she veered off into telling her story. It’s always good to miss classes, even if it is your favourite class 😛
She was 31, living with her father. Relatives were pushing her to get married, but she was reluctant. She was worried about her dad. Everything about it was so raw, it seemed very real, as if had I been in her place I would have done the same.
But, oh she was getting old and still not married?
Teacher – 1 Society – 3
Some days later, she told us about meeting a boy. A common family friend had introduced them and fixed the meeting at the local dargah (place of worship for Muslims). The boy was a Muslim. No, I am not supporting discrimination though cannot not miss point this Hindu-Muslim alliance which the society frowns upon.
Teacher – 1 Society – 4
The meeting and the subsequent ones were successful as they ended up married. She left the school within three months of joining as she had to move to a different country after marriage. Last we saw her on Facebook, her surname changed as her husband’s, pictures from places she was visiting, but we got no replies our messages. And slowly even these updates stopped. I guess, she is too happy to announce it the world now! 🙂
Teacher Won. Society Lost!
She has been inspiration on how to live life and let people yank whatever they wish to. It is an art we can seldom master.