Go to hell – no wait, underworld!     

Usually I hate attending quarterly parents-teachers meetings at my daughter’s school. Besides collecting her answer sheets, I find the event meaningless. However, my daughter likes to attend them as she gets a chance to be with me inside her school and in particular, her classroom. Recently, I told my daughter that I would quickly go on my own and collect her half-yearly exams’ answer sheets. She wasn’t happy.

“I want you to meet my English teacher,” she said.

I knew that English was the only subject in which she had not done as great as she normally does but I wondered why she wanted me to meet the teacher.

“She marked my one correct answer wrong,” my daughter said.

Question: What is the antonym of heaven?


“What did you write?” I asked her (and many friends later on, who all answered what is perhaps, the same answer as you, my dear reader, have in mind..)

But no, my daughter didn’t write ‘hell’.

I had known from before that she considered this word blasphemous (don’t know how it began but she has her own understanding of taboos!) but I didn’t know that she could go to such a length of not writing it even in her exam! She ended up writing ‘underworld’. (Her vocabulary is pretty good)

Upon asking the teacher as to why she had crossed out the answer (I had not forgotten to include in my introduction with her that I held a master’s degree in English literature and also, that I had Googled on credible websites and found ‘underworld’ was indeed one of the antonyms of ‘heaven’!), I couldn’t believe my ears of what I heard next!


“Because I was expecting her to write ‘hell’, just like the other students,” the teacher answered.

And at this point, I could tell that my blood was beginning to simmer.

I don’t know what response/justification I was expecting from  a grade seventh teacher, but definitely not this!

Was she not aware that there were many and more of many synonyms and antonyms of one single word?

Also, why should all students be copies of each other and write the same answer, unless of course it is a factual question?

“So you don’t want her vocabulary to expand?” I asked her, stone faced.

“You are taking this in the wrong direction,” she said.

“And you want her to be dumbed down and be an average student?” I said trying to appear cool.

Looking at other parents and students who were beginning to trickle in the classroom (luckily, till now we were the only ones in the classroom), she said that she would discuss this topic with my daughter later in the week and also, this was not the ‘forum’ to discuss such a subject. I wanted to tell her that this was indeed the place and time to discuss it as why else would the school be distributing answer sheets during the parents teachers meeting! It was a question right out of the answer sheet!

I didn’t see a point in discussing this any further. I got up saying that I was extremely disappointed.

I was fuming all the way back home but my daughter seemed somehow satisfied.

The only thing I felt good about this whole exercise was that I stood up for my daughter, who knew that she had written the right answer. I didn’t shrug the matter off in the first place by telling my daughter that we should just skip meeting the teacher, after all it was only one mark!

Going forward, I hope the teacher stops and thinks every time she comes across the word ‘hell’ and/or ‘underworld’. Hopefully, she has realised that she was indeed wrong and that she should encourage her students to be different and not get stuck in a rut. I sincerely hope this happens though I will never know.


post addendum: A week later, my daughter  told me that her teacher had discussed the subject with her and said that she had crossed out her answer because the opposite of ‘underworld’ is ‘real world’!

Oh, well! 😐


What You See Is Not What It Is


In a recent parents-teacher meeting I was told by my daughter’s class teacher that she has a ‘severe attitude problem’. My daughter, two weeks short of turning 11, as the teacher continued to tell, refuses to mix up with the girls in the class. She chooses to ignore them. I was not surprised by what I was told as my daughter shares just about everything that happens in the school. Only that I would not have used the word ‘attitude’ and that too bolstered by the adjective ‘severe’.

Some people just can’t make friends easily and my daughter happens to be one of them. I will not use the word ‘different’ for her. She just hasn’t come across like-minded people of her age. She does make an effort to understand their jokes, gossips, trivia and she just doesn’t get them. Last she told me that when she sat with another girl in the class, the girl asked her to not to sit next to her and the reason being : “I don’t like your face!” And another time when my daughter wanted to borrow some paints for the art activity, a girl snubbed her by saying that she didn’t have any to offer her and even if she did , she would not lend it to her.


How do you expect my daughter to react? How would you react if you are told your face is dis-likeable? My daughter chose to ignore. I don’t see what argument she could have put up on this and she is grown up enough to know when exactly to complain to the teacher and when not! It must be painful for having been told things like this but she does not express her feelings to me – just plain facts.

Fortunately being in a co-ed school, she has the other gender to try making friends with and voila! she has 2-3 boys as her friends now. At least she is lucky to have this option. I have been to only all-girls’ schools which has its own set of pros and cons. But that saga is for another day. 

Coming back to the parents-teacher meet, given the academic and administrative pressure on the teachers I don’t blame them from forming opinions just on the basis of what they see. As a parent I am happy that I chose to refute what the teacher had to say rather than nodding my head in agreement and getting over with the once-in-a-quarter meeting on a Saturday morning as usually I prefer. I am happy that I am aware of the emotional roller coaster ride most children including my daughter, especially pre-teens and teens, go through in life, particularly in school. There are some scars from my school time that will remain unhealed forever and I am glad that I have them as I feel I can understand my child’s psyche better.

I daily look forward to her tales from school and usually it is these little episodes that gives me a better insight to her mental growth. Studies and sports can take a backseat. It is what in the mind that I try to delve in as this is what will shape her as a woman eventually.


photo above: daughter using Snapchat and its filter