Things That Got Our Teachers’ Goats

A few weeks ago, I wrote about something that had our teachers and school management paranoid—so called ‘contraband books’. We had a well-stocked school library, but obviously we had an urge to read something beyond—like comics and M&Bs! Which our teachers and the nuns were determined to stop us from doing. One of the things that used to happen irregularly regularly were surprise checks. Suddenly about four teachers would walk into the classroom, and order us to open our desks and bags, and would riffle through them. Anyone caught with any book other than textbooks or school library books was sent off to the Principal, and had the book confiscated.

I marvel at those days of innocence, considering that as far as I know, no one was ever caught with anything more wicked than an Archie comic. Or yes, a Barbara Cartland. While Georgette Heyers were completely kosher and in fact, in the school library lists, and even M&Bs were tolerated (which meant we were not too nervous if a teacher heard us mention them), for some reason BCs really got the teachers paranoid.

They were also paranoid about what our hair was fastened with. It had to be black ribbons. Rubber bands, even black ones, got them. What to talk of ‘love in Tokyos’!

And socks. They had to be plain white, and NO DESIGN! The faintest sprays of flowers or creepers, even white on white, would get them on a trip.

Skirts had to be just above the knee. Anything shorter and there would be consequences. The girls with more oomph and guts found their way around this. They used to roll up the waist band of the skirt two or even three times, so that the skirts were at a daring mid-thigh. And roll them down, oh so innocently, when any strict teacher happened by.

All this was at Carmel Convent Delhi. But I am sure that readers of my generation would all relate to this.

I thank my teachers for the discipline they dinned into us. For the values they made a part of our lives. For the seriousness with which they taught us. For how earnestly they took their mission of making something of us.

–Meena

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