Why Teaching Is The Only Approved Career By In-Laws In India?

I met a man over tea – obviously for the matrimonial alliance. Apparently, a teacher is too divine in the image to invite someone for coffee!

I met a man over tea – obviously for the matrimonial alliance. Apparently, a teacher is too divine in the image to invite someone for coffee!

My first day at school and I was completely awed by the impeccably pleated saree of my class teacher. I remember how I immediately stereotyped her representation, and my drawing book from my first year at school still stands a witness to this representation.

I was not able to draw the bi-symmetry of the human body well enough then and yet the saree I dressed my teacher up in was freckleless, fully symmetrical (drawn using a scale) with the number of pleats tightly held together.

As I grew, my knowledge of biological symmetry improved, but the perfection of the pleats of my teacher’s saree remained unaltered.

My idol was human!

And then one day the palace of the pleats of my dreams came running down as I spotted my teacher’s waist without the perfectly tucked pleats but rather compressed in between a classless pair of jeans.

My mouth filled with distaste; the awe was replaced by shock; the idol was rendered just “humane”! She lost her divinity before me. How can this apostle of perfection not walk in mud with her impeccably pleated saree? Why can’t she be normal like other female teachers?

So I decided to rebuild that idol out of me. I became a teacher myself.

The perfect bride is a teacher!

Soon after, I met a man over tea – obviously for the matrimonial alliance. Apparently, a teacher is too divine in the image to invite someone for coffee.

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And obviously, I had the makeup of a perfect bride because in his family women were allowed to pursue their jobs only in the noblest of all professions, i.e, that of a teacher and obviously because it is the best profession for a human female.

Is a teacher a potential sanskari daughter-in-law?

And why not! I stood before the mirror and contemplated. I was the model “Sanskari” daughter-in-law desired in a traditional Indian household; oh, sorry! The model desired in every Indian household, with my impeccably pleated saree.

Never before I realized that the elegant model of the dress I idealized could turn into a derisory stereotype of idealized femininity and a standing symbol of patriarchal prowess. For me, it was just another dress, differing from others in the elegance it personified.

I thought that my sarees looked smart enough to denote my professionalism, and here I was faced with the fact that they enhanced my feminine aspect rather than my professional one.

Points for perfect pleats made me happy!

How delighted I had been in the years of my B.Ed training as each of the girls were given scores on the perfection of their pleats while on the other hand, our male classmates only had to take care of a crisply ironed shirt that didn’t require that much skill for maintenance and went largely unnoticed.

Little did I realize back then that the hands that prepared the impeccably ironed nine-yard silk for themselves were also ironing the crisp shirts for their husbands, brothers or sons.

As I sat contemplating all this, a mother of one of my students walked in, as it was the parents and teachers meeting day. She was dressed in a business pantsuit with Raybans raised over her forehead. She carried a leather briefcase and a laptop bag. Likewise, she had dropped by on the way to her office to discuss the progress of her child.

A little dose of guilt arose

I complimented her on her appearance and remarked casually about the practicality of pantsuits on chilly winter mornings as the present one, and asked for the details of her tailor.

And then, I saw in the eyes of her child the same disappointment that shattered the divine image of my teacher years ago. A fresh pang of guilt got hold of me.

Not because of the hypocrisy of my adolescent judgement; nor because of ruining the divinity of the teacher in that child’s eye; but I felt guilty for being the contributor that stereotyped and shackled that very profession which first explained the meaning of freedom to us with that elegant impeccably pleated saree!

A teacher’s image is still shaped by the perfect pleats!

Today, when teaching as a profession employs as many males if not more as females, teaching still remains a woman’s profession with her impeccably pleated saree!

Today when women are freeing themselves in almost all spheres of life and are increasingly claiming their rights over their choice to wear whatever they want inside and outside their house, as a domestic housekeeper or the professional expert, female teachers are judged, advised, checked and dismissed in favour of an impeccably pleated saree!

And why not!

A teacher is one of the first role models of a child after their parents, and she sets, conditions and embeds in the minds of both her female and male students the propriety of “chaste ideals” through her impeccably pleated saree!

Image source: Anil Sharma from pexels, free and edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Dr. Nishtha Mishra

Dr. Nishtha Mishra is an internationally published author. She is a Doctorate in English Literature from one of the reputed Central Universities. She has been an all round topper and has 5 gold medals to read more...

25 Posts | 16,554 Views

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