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The teacher scolded me saying I have stained all our names by proposing to a boy. She said I wasn’t a good girl with manners or sanskars.
Shriti threw her school bag and dumped herself on the couch, as I entered her room to ask how her day went. My usual cheerful chatterbox seemed perplexed at something.
“Out with it,” I said. She put her arms around me trying to fit in my lap, which was too small for a 16-year-old. Tears rolled down her eyes. I clasped her tight as I could and asked worriedly what the matter was.
Shriti took a while to answer, and in a weak voice said, “Maa, my class teacher scolded me in front of the whole class. And she has given a note for you too.”
“Okay, but what is the matter? What did you do?” I was now anxious.
“During recess today, I proposed to Ankush with a flower. I asked him whether he would be friends with me.” Ankush has been Shriti’s crush for a long time. He was a nice boy and lived in neighbourhood.
Shriti had a huge following of boys who liked her, in and outside her school. She was a smart girl with good focus in studies and games specially basketball and football. Her bindaas attitude drew many admirers!
My girl however had just friendly feelings for all except Ankush. She used to confide in me. I told her on various occasions that it was but natural to have such feelings in this age for the opposite gender. And that it is not something one should be guilty of.
We live in a small town of Ranchi and it is still an uncommon to see teenagers roaming around without having several raised eyebrows following them. My husband Shubhjit and I, brought up our daughter in a way that at she allows herself to think logically and to her benefit and peace of mind.
Since she liked this boy and might be thinking about him, it might have occurred to her to pose this simple question to him whether or not he reciprocated!
“Maa, teacher scolded me saying that I have put a stain on my name and both of you by proposing to a boy. That I am not a good girl with nice manners and sanskaars,” she sobbed.
Then continued as if she wanted to vent out everything at one go, “Maa, when Pushkar proposed to Heena, nobody complained and no questions were raised at him. Heena doesn’t even like him, but she didn’t complain. Why was there such hue and cry when a girl did it?”
The question put by my girl didn’t know any accurate answer. I consoled my daughter and asked what Ankush had to say about her proposal. “He said he doesn’t know what to say and blushed,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Then who complained about all this?” I enquired.
“Rashi, our prefect. I think she likes him too,” she chuckled.
I was relieved that she had calmed down and relaxed. Then, I went through the note her teacher had written. It said that my ward was caught behaving inappropriately with a boy of her class and this behavior would not be tolerated at the school.
An apology was sought from my daughter along with our assurance that this behavior of hers will not be repeated. Fuming at the language of the note, I decided to discuss with Shubhojit before writing a reply. I patted Shriti and asked her to change and come down in the living room for tea as Shubhojit returned from work.
We had light conversations with tea and as Shriti left for her studies I put the matter in front of my husband. Shubhojit was enraged by the language used in the note. We decided to personally meet the teacher than to write a reply.
Next morning, we were sitting in the principal’s office and listening to them. “Mr. and Mrs Sharan, we must guide the girls in the right direction. You are well known doctors of the town, this is the age when your child needs to know good and bad manners. This will build her character in a good way.”
“Really?” said Shubhojit “And how did you conclude that my daughter lacks in manners or character? Just because she proposed to a boy she likes, she is a stain on her family name according to you? Or because she has voiced her feelings? Is that what bothers you? Madam, have you ever corrected any of the boys in your school in such a way? No! Because it is common sight for you. Boys eve teasing is a common thing that you comfortably ignore, but you consider it your holy duty to counsel a girl and her parents to behave in proper manner!”
He continued, “What is her fault? That she likes a boy and asked him to be friends? Did she break any discipline of your school? Has ever she misbehaved with anyone? Or has she misbehaved with this boy or forced him to oblige? No madam! You are worried just because she has the courage to express her feelings. This, is not an offence on any grounds at all!”
An uncomfortable silence filled the cabin. We stood up and walked through the corridor with our minds at peace and our heart filled with pride that our daughter wasn’t burdened to be a ‘good girl.’ All we wanted was for her to be an honest, reliable, trustworthy and a humble person.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na
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