Life as Convent School Girls in India: What is it Like?

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Golden years, hidden tears, you have all been there: hiding from nuns (aka sisters), crushing on the scarce male faculty, folding socks down to ankles, smelling of teenage rebellion. Sneaked in a few words of Hindi. Cursed. Yes, we mean you – convent school girls, the  English speaking variety, that are the object of stereotypes and devotion (from local boys) alike.

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Let us take you down the memory lane and bring up some long forgotten memories. Every Christmas carol that you had ever forgotten in the wake of corporate deadlines or a tight schedule. As a schoolgirl, every one wishes to fit in, somehow, with the crowd but feels she never does so perhaps because of the adolescent self consciousness. However, when one grows up, one realizes that the memories weren’t so exclusive after all. Some incidents are shared by many, and in that collectiveness of memory, seeks solace for long lost years of innocence and naivete.

Here we bring you fifteen points that shall help you rediscover all those memories as a convent school girl: the long hours of school, the dramatics society, plays based on the Bible, several interesting parables, nuns who were kind and nuns who were a lot like Valak, distressing projects on value education and a games period fraught with fights. Candies shared during recess and hairs cut to avenge some petty offence.

Here we bring you fifteen points over which you can reminisce over the past and think about that one cruel teacher who never gave you the grade you deserved. Maybe call up on a few friends to check up on them this quarantine.

Relatability quotient? Probably a hundred if you’ve ever been a convent school girl (or a ‘conventee’).

1. Hymn for the Weekend

Well, actually, you’ve learned more than just one hymn for the weekend if you were in a convent school. From “Showers of blessings” to “It’s a small world”, your memories are packed with morning prayers and hymns so that you wish that hymns were allowed in Antakshri!

2. The School Church

If you have been a convent school girl, chances are you have been to the school church or chapel. Every convent school has one for the nuns and students, where the Catholics went for mass while you had your moral science classes.

3. Hello there, Shakespeare!

Who called them convent school girls and not Grammar Nazis? Well yes, the most common stereotype may actually be rooted in reality for they are indeed silently correcting your grammar. It is hard not to, even though it can be problematic at times and cloud judgements about a certain person. If you’ve been a convent school girl, chances are, you have paid the fine for talking in Hindi which was a grave offence deemed punishable by paying fine. Shakespeare is both a friend and a foe.

4. How do you do, Valak 2.0?

Did you really think yours is the only school that was build upon a graveyard? Ha! Every convent school girl can probably relate an incident about dead nuns and students haunting the school premises. Dares were given out to visit forbidden, haunted areas of the school building (which were often very old and ominous).Tales of horror can be recounted by every girl who has ever been to a convent school.

5. Good morning, sister!

As a convent girl, you realized early on that sister didn’t refer to a familial relation. It also meant nuns who were teachers. From kind, compassionate women to a veritable Valak, you have seen them all!

6. Moral Science> Science

 

Who cares about science when there is moral science? An experience shared in common by all convent school girls: compulsory value education classes by preachy nuns who fined you if your skirt was one size too small or if you refused to follow the norms and applied gloss and kajal which counted as make up. “Ladies should be seen and not heard” is a rigid refrain difficult to unlearn for some, however, the coaching in manners always comes handy when tackling with adult problems.

7. All I want for Christmas

Are you even a convent school girl if your school never made a big deal out of Christmas? Humming ‘Silent Night’ and vying for the attention of Santa Claus, Christmas in a convent school is a grand affair. Santa is real and comes ringing a bell, as the choir belts out ‘Jingle Bells’.

Fact: Christmas cakes taste better when stolen from a friend.

8. Girl Gang

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How cool was it when you could bunk classes and hang out with girl friends instead?

Divided into cliques from a young age, every convent school girl has witnessed epic school gangs, straight out of 90s movies! The fashionistas, who modelled themselves on Clueless and Mean Girls (that’s such a fetch gloss!). The rebels with untucked shirt and rolled sleeves, trying to defy as much as they could. The toppers who stuck together – some of them were nice, some proud that they were the teacher’s pets. There was always a rumour about two best friends claiming they were lesbians.

9. Lesbians?

Not one person who went to a convent school can deny the ‘tag’ that would be given: lesbians. Yes, it was sometimes a rumour, sometimes true but almost always used in a derogatory manner. If you’ve been a convent school girl, you’ve probably seen friends make out in the loo but you’ve also seen friends getting tagged for being close. This probably also had something to do with the local boys who likes to label girls.

10. ‘Boy crazy’

 

Due to the all girls demography, people often believe that convent school girls are ‘boy crazy’ or ‘desperate for men’ which of course is absolutely wrong. We think it’s nobody’s business what a teenage school girl is up to, other than herself and her parents. Well, that still doesn’t stop ‘pados wali aunties’ from judging.

11. Fine Day!

Are you even a convent school girl if you haven’t paid a fine for speaking in Hindi? There was a fine for every ridiculous thing imaginable, from not wearing shorts beneath the skirts or loose socks, rolled down to the ankles. For untucked blouses to wearing the wrong uniform on P.T days.  Everything, everything.

12. Abstinence is the key!

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Guess what a convent school would tell their girls about sex? Abstinence of course! Unlike some of your friends in coed schools, you haven’t skipped the reproductive chapter in school but you also have been given the sermon which often follows you even after your school life! The chapter called for giggles and smirks, especially the figure of the male reproductive system which made the sisters awfully poker faced.

13. Proper Lady!

Raise your hands if you were ever scolded for sitting with your legs apart. Whistling down the corridor. Shouting from desktops. Convent schools are high on decorum and moral policing. There are some highly problematic gender roles assigned to you when you do not understand what gender roles are.

A lot is expected of you if you are studying in a convent school, namely, fluent English, impeccable, demure manners. That maybe it, but some lessons were problematic for they sidelined the girl who was not feminine and thereby, a troublemaker.

14. Why should boys have all the fun?

School dances meant someone would have to dress up as a boy, and waltz with a girl. School plays meant wearing fake mustaches and pretending to be Prince Charming: cross dressing is fun. Making out with boys during school events, hidden from teachers and nuns alike. Applying gloss (an offence!), kajal and tying hair up in a ponytail, in defiance of the school rules. Not wearing shorts underneath the skirts (your thighs have never felt cooler!) and wondering if a sister was having an affair with a father (shocking!).  From ditching moral science classes to standing in the assembly for cursing in Hindi, angst filled adolescents always find a way to rebel!

15. Myths and Facts

Life as convent school girls

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that girls schools shall forever be under the scrutiny of society, and hence prone to a lot of rumours. Well, well. Who better to face the rumour mill than convent school girls? There is a lot of myths surrounding your average ‘conventee’ who unfortunately has to deal with the labels of society at a very tender age. This is not an attempt to portray convent school girls as ‘victims’. This is merely to point out the ridiculous notions that people adopt regarding convent students: they are lesbians, desperate for men, arrogant, mean, and they do not know anything other than English.

It cannot be denied that as a convent school girl, you face a hear of sermons that might not be very positive in the long run. School girls are often taught toxic societal norms. However, nostalgia takes away the bite from most of it, and soothes it with time and maturity. The coming together of all religions to participate without malice will perhaps be one of the best memories as a convent school girl.

Don’t forget to check up on your favourite teacher this quarantine!

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