I have often encountered people living in my housing complex and even strangers asking me out of the blue if I am a teacher. Earlier it would fill me with pride. I would find it heartening that despite being ‘just a housewife’ people thought I was working!
When it happened one time too many, I started wondering if there was label on my forehead which screamed “Teacher”. For more often than not it sounded a bit demeaning, you know… with looks conveying I am “behenji” type.
I asked a few why they thought so, but they never did say anything, just shrugged their shoulder with a self-deprecating smile. Gradually I became wary of the question. Now when someone asks me if I am a teacher, I don’t know whether to take it as an insult or a compliment.
I have tried to analyse how they jump to the conclusion.
It could be the stern expression on my face which makes me look schoolmarmish, it could be the large voluminous tote I lug around everywhere or maybe my glasses and my hair tied in a bun.
It could also be my sartorial choices. I am almost always clad in a salwar/ churidar suit or a saree. And not to forget flat, sensible shoes or sandals. Maybe the entire look screams “Schoolmarm”
Perhaps if I let my hair lose, wore pant suit or a dress and high heels,I would be considered a professional from other field.
But then I see teachers today, who look nothing like I do and wonder… why???
I left teaching 24 yrs ago. Those of you who are still in the profession maybe able to tell me, why without even opening my mouth I am always identified as a teacher?
P.S – Interestingly when I met my husband for the first time( I had been teaching for 6 yrs then), he said I looked anything but a school teacher! 😳