Being Women

School Admission – A Privilege

School admissions have become a nightmare for most Indian parents. While the financial demands of schools can be herculean for most families, the author narrates her experience of a non-monetary requirement mandated by a school during its admission process through her hilarious anecdote

We were trying to get our little boy admitted to a formal school. None of the schools appears to care for much, other than the hefty fees you should be eligible to pay. Apart from the basic formalities, we had prepared for what we didn’t expect was proof of domestic bliss. They have asked us to furnish a very specific one to prove that. We were required to provide a picture of the child’s parents in the same frame and not two passport photos stuck together.  They had this parameter or a kind of actual evidence of the parents being in the same frame. A frame with a dimension of PAN card size. I wondered what was the reason for this.

So, we went to a photoshop after meandering around the several gates of the institute, and then found one tiny hole in the wall which was aware of our requirement, being manned by a lone man willing to accomplish the task right then. This man with non-verbal efficiency pointed me to the mirror because I had to ‘fix my face’ as per the requirement. The mirror was replete with a tissue box and some Pond’s powder with a comb. The tissue papers might have touched many faces, the comb had caressed many other heads and the little chips of tiny hair on powder made me wonder about their origins and source.

The Photographer-cum-shopkeeper man had arranged the stools to sit on, even decided the proximity of distance. After this, with his non-existent English and my semi-existent Tamil, he instructed me to bend my face and ordered Bheto Bangali (husband) to tilt his forehead (to avoid unnecessary glare on a hairless head). I realised the man was not happy the way my body was not turned towards Bheto Bangali, like a good wife. So, he turned the angle at which I should rotate and I did. After making us pose for a good ten minutes and with the fan being switched off in the February heat in Chennai, he showed me the picture he had made. And I was quite dissatisfied by my chin doing a double whammy and had ordered him to reshoot.

Bheto Bangali’s perspiration and patience had outrun the husband in him but I cared about the authorities in the potential school who may reject my child. 

After another laborious round of posing and meeting my reluctant approval (because the second chin just refused to budge from that camera frame), the man took the raw images and started cropping, chopping, recolouring, lightening, removing blemishes and bags which I didn’t even know existed on our respective faces. He also gave me a haircut and reduced me to one shade on the NC chart of MAC’s. Bheto Bangali just got a little eye bag lightening treatment. And the best part is that all this makeover is for a meagre 120 rupees. I have the picture now and it’s not this one you see in my social media posts or my selfies. That picture made us look exactly like the school wants us to see.  Oily faces, grinning away, begging them “Please take our child, take our money, we will fit ourselves in a PAN card if you need us to”. In that picture, we both looked all set to send our child to school with some emotional privilege if not financial. After all, we are raising the privileged generation, aren’t we?

By Senjuti

Senjuti is a lawyer by profession and loves telling stories. Her stories primarily originate from experience, observation and a fair amount of luck. She loves to share her stories as anecdotes. She has so far lived in six cities in four countries and feels that’s the reason she has never had a dearth of anecdotes. She can be contacted at

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